The Mother’s Opportunity

This is a portion from a book dated 1883 and it contains excellent advice for mothers.

A Mother's Opportunity

Mothers, you are the divinely-appointed teachers and guides of your children; and any attempt to free yourselves from your duty is in direct opposition to the will of God. If you neglect them, the consequences are swift and sure, and how fearful they are, let those broken-hearted mothers tell who have bowed in anguish over their lost sons; who, neglecting them in childhood, have at last seen them dead to every manly virtue.

Let me say to you who still have the opportunity to do so, train your children, whether boys or girls, to usefulness. Give them something to do. And as soon as they can walk, teach them to bring any little thing to you, and as they grow older, let them do all they can to help you. Spend most of your time with your young children. Sleep near them; attend to washing and dressing them; let them eat at the table with father and mother; read, talk, play, walk with them; be their companion and guide in all things and at all times. When the father can leave his work to take a little recreation, let him take it with the children, making it a special holiday.


Don’t be in haste to send them to school, but teach them at home. Oral instruction can be given while you are doing your work, and for a while will be of much more benefit than many hours of study. As soon as they want playmates, see that they have those of their own age, who have been well cared for at home, and are truthful. Let them play in or near the house, that you may observe the character of the intercourse. Never send children to school to get rid of the care or trouble of them at home, but when the right time comes, let them see that it is wholly for their good that you part with them. If possible, go often to the school-room yourself—nothing gives children so much encouragement.

Always allow them to tell you all that has happened to interest or annoy them while absent from home. Never think anything which affects the happiness of your children too small a matter to claim your attention. Use every means in your power to win and retain their confidence. Do not rest satisfied without some account of each day’s joys or sorrows. It is a source of great comfort to the innocent child to tell all its troubles to mother, and for you to lend a willing ear. For know you, that as soon as they cease to tell you all these things, they have chosen other confidants, and therein lies the danger. O mother! This is the rock on which your son may be wrecked at last. I charge you to set a watch upon it. Be jealous of the first sign that he is not opening all his heart to you.

Boys who are thus cared for and trained find more to please and amuse them at home than away. They are thus saved from temptation. But if they are neglected until they arrive at the age when they would wish to go out evenings, there is small hope that any but arbitrary measures will prevent or secure obedience, and then it hardly can be called obedience. It is much more pleasant to apply the “ounce of prevention” than the “pound of cure” in such cases. When boys know that their society is valued highly at home, and that all its pleasures are marred by their absence, they will willingly stay if they can have something to occupy their time.

~Anonymous, 1883


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