Read To Mrs. Charles Gordon of A Woman of the World, free online book, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, on ReadCentral.com.

Concerning Her Children

Your wish to have your son, who is now four years old, begin to develop the manly qualities, and your oldest daughter, who has reached the mature age of three, start wisely on the path to lovely womanhood, is far from being premature.

“The tree inclines as the twig is bent,” we are told.

Most mothers wait until the tree is in blossom before they begin to train its inclination.

Your boy is quite old enough to be taught manly pride, in being useful to you and his sisters.

Such things are not successfully taught by preaching or scolding or punishing; but are more easily inculcated by tact and praise, object-lesson and play.

A four-year-old boy is all ears when his father’s praises and achievements are recounted.  Any father, save a brute, is a hero in the eyes of his four-year-old son.  I am sure Mr. Gordon has many admirable traits you can use as interesting topics.

Tell little Charlie how proud you are to have a son who will be like his father, and attend to the needs of and look after the interests of his mother and sisters.

Make him think that to be of service to you or his sisters is one of the first steps toward manhood, as indeed it is.

When he performs any small kindness, praise his manliness.

Teach him to open doors, and to make way for women and elders, as a part of manly courtesy.

Speak with gentle disapproval of the unfortunately common type of American boy who pushes women and older people aside to scramble into public conveyances and secure a seat before them.

Say how proud you are that your son could not be guilty of such unmanly conduct.

When you are walking with him, call his attention to any woman or child or poor man in trouble, and if his services can be of use, urge him to offer them.

I saw one day a small boy spring to the aid of an old coloured woman who had dropped a lot of parcels in the street, and I thought it was a certain evidence that his mother was a rare and sweet woman.  For the manners of little boys are almost invariably what their mothers make them.

Awake early in his heart a sympathy for the deformed, the crippled, and otherwise unfortunate beings.

There is no other country where such vulgar and heartless curiosity, and even ridicule, is bestowed upon grotesque or unsightly types of humanity, as in America.

A little dwarfed girl in New York City committed suicide a few years ago because she was so weary of being laughed at and ridiculed by her associates in the street and at school.

Think of that, in this Christian age, and in the metropolis of America!

An old street peddler was set upon by school-children and so annoyed and misused that he became insane.

Another was injured by street children-the children of the public schools-and died from the effects of their abuse.

This is the fault of mothers who have never deemed it their duty and privilege to awaken the tender and protective qualities in the character of their children.

Speak often to your boy of the pathos of dumb animals dependent upon human thoughtfulness for food, drink, and decent usage.

Say what a privilege it seems to you to be able to befriend them, and to be a voice for them in making others realize their duty to our dumb brothers.

Obtain interesting books on natural history and read stories of animal life to your boy.  Instruct him in the habits of beast, bird, and insect, and talk to him of the wonderful domestic instincts and affections in many of our speechless associates.  The exhilaration of the wild bird, and the happiness of the deer and the hare in the woods and fields, call to his mind day by day.  It will be more gratifying to you when he is man grown to feel he is the loving friend and protector, rather than the skilled hunter of bird and beast.

The higher order of man does not seek slaughter for amusement.  He realizes that he has no right to take, save for self-protection, that which he cannot give.

Make your son a higher order of man by developing those brain cells and leaving the destructive and cruel portions of the brain to shrink from lack of use.

Even in his play with his inanimate toys, you can be arousing the best or the worst part of your boy’s nature.

The child who whips and screams at his hobby-horse usually, when a man, whips and bellows at his flesh and blood steed.

Tell him the play-horse is more easily managed by coaxing and petting, and that loud voices make it nervous and frightened.

Suggest water and feed at suitable times, and express sorrow for the horses with no kind boys to look out for them.

Start a humane society in the nursery and make your boy president and your little girl honorary member, and act as treasurer and secretary yourself.

Give him a medal when he offers food to a hungry street animal or speaks to a driver cruel to his horse, or performs any other kind act.  This will be interesting play to your children, and it will be sowing seed in fallow ground.

Your baby girl is already old enough to take pride in picking up the toys she scatters, and putting her chair where it belongs.  Make it a part of your hour of sport with her to help her do these things.  She will not know she is being taught order.

I learned this lesson from a famous author whose baby son was anxious to play about the library where his father was at work.

The first act of the toddler was to toss all the books in sight upon the floor and to sit down and turn the leaves, hunting for pictures.  This performance interested him for half an hour, when he proceeded to seek new fields of action.

“But now let us have great fun putting all the books back just where we found them,” cried the tactful father, with a wink and a laugh, which made the child believe he was to enjoy the sport of his life.  And it was made sport by the foolish pranks of the father who knew how little it took to interest a child.

The next day, and the next, the same fall and rise in the book market took place, but on the fourth day the father was too deeply engrossed in work to assist in the replacing of the books:  when, lo! the small lad, after a wistful waiting and unanswered call, proceeded to put the books all back alone.

The first important brick in the foundation wall of order was laid.

So you can teach your little girl all the womanly habits of method, and order, and neatness, and system, if you have the patience to act the part of playmate with her a few moments daily.

As she grows in understanding and years, keep yourself at her side, her nearest friend.  Let her feel that she can express her every thought to you, and that every question which presents itself to her developing mind, you will seek to answer to the best of your ability.

Be her confidant, her adviser, her friend, and let her find pride and happiness in doing things for you.

Never act as maid or domestic to your daughter.

Be the queen and make her your first lady-in-waiting, and show her the courtesy and appreciation her position demands from royalty.  She will be a better daughter, and a better wife and mother, later in life, if you do not make the mistake of the average American mother of waiting upon her from the cradle to the altar.  Let her grow up with the quiet understanding that you are to be first considered, in matters social and financial.  Your wardrobe must be as well looked after as her own, and if there is to be economy for one, let her practise it.

The daughter who has a whole household sacrificing and toiling for her pleasures is spoiled for a wife and woman.  The most admirable young women I have known-and I have known many-are those who were taught to take it as a matter of course that the mother was first to be considered, and lovingly served.

Do not be afraid of making your daughter vain by telling her the attractive features she may possess.

Some one else will if you do not, and it is well for her to hear it from lips which may more successfully offer counsel afterward.  A certain confidence in her own charms gives a sensibly reared young woman a poise and self-possession which is to be desired.  A touch of feminine vanity renders a woman more anxious to please, and more alert to keep always at her best.

But beware of having her acquire egotism.  Silly conceit is the death-blow to higher attainments and to all charm.

Teach your daughter early the accomplishment of listening well.  She will be certain to please if she understands its value.

A woman who looks the converser in the eyes, and does not allow her glance to wander and become distrait, and who does not interrupt before the recital is finished, can be sure of popularity with both men and women.

Give both your son and daughter confidence in themselves and belief in their power to achieve.  There is tremendous power in the early inoculation by the home influence of self-confidence, when it is tempered by modesty and consideration for others.

Remember whatever in your own bringing up seems to-day unfortunate, and avoid it in the training of your children.

Remember whatever was good and helpful, and emulate it.