Thursday, July 24, 2008

An Orderly Home


I'd like to share another excerpt from The Mother at Home by Reverend John S.C. Abbott, 1833. This one begins just about where the last one left off.

To set the stage, Reverend Abbott is comparing two households. In both, there is work the mother must perform.

The first mother does what I like to call "armchair" parenting. We've all done it. We give a command and when it isn't immediately obeyed we try to "armchair parent." We know we should get up. We know we need to get up. She doesn't get up.

The first mother gives her child continual commands which the mother has no intention of enforcing. Time after time she commands the child, growing more and more frustrated each time. She rises to her feet only in response to the consequence of her daughter's disobedience, not for the sake of requiring obedience in the first place. The mother is harried. The child is taught disobedience as she continues to be allowed to disregard her mother's commands. It's a stressful scene.

Enter Mamma number two:

"We will suppose the case of another mother, who has the same work to perform.

She has taught her children prompt and implicit obedience. She gives three of them perhaps some blocks in one corner of the room, and tells them they may play "build houses," but that they must not make much noise, and must not interrupt her, for she wishes to be busy.

The other three she places in another corner of the room, with their slates, and tells them they may play "make pictures." The children accustomed to such orderly arrangements, employ themselves quietly and happily for perhaps three quarters of an hour. The mother goes on uninterrupted in her work.

Occasionally she raises her eyes and says an encouraging word to her children, now noticing little architects in the corner, and now glancing her eye at the drawings upon the slates; thus showing the children that she sympathizes with them, and takes an interest in their enjoyments. The children are pleased and happy...

She does not let them continue their amusements till they are weary of them. But after they have played perhaps three quarters of an hour, she says, "Come children, you have played long enough; you may take up all your little blocks and put them away in the drawer."

"O, mother," says Maria, "do let me play a little while longer, for I have got my house almost done." "Well, you may finish it," says the judiciously kind mother, "but tell me as soon as it is done."

In a few minutes Maria says, "There mamma, see what a large house I have built!" The mother looks at it, and adds a pleasant word of encouragement, and then tells them to put away their blocks in the proper place. She tells the children with the slates to hang them up, and to put away their pencils; so that, the next day, when slates and blocks are wanted, no time may be lost in searching for them."

So how do we gain the time and ease in which to have read aloud time or make a menu for our family? By building on a foundation of cheerful, first time obedience.

Let's catch this vision.

See the relationship between mother and child? It is not adversarial. The mother is quite at ease with her authority, yet tender and interested in the interests and concerns of her child.

There appears to be a spirit of trust between mother and child.

The mother can respond judicially because her authority is not being challenged. The child is making a respectful request, not saying, "But mom! I was trying to build this!!!" and melting down into angry, spoiled tears. She is certain that if she were forced to deny her child's request, her child would respond with cheerful obedience. And yet, because of the sweet fellowship they share she is glad to indulge her child in this area that is not to her detriment.

"Now which mother has the most time? and which mother has the happiest time? And which mother will find the most comfort in the subsequent character and affection of her children?" ~Abbott

May God bless you as you lead little hearts home.


Photo taken 2006. Seemed to go with a quote from 1833 somehow. I used to love how baby Lydia's hair would curl up on the bottom and look just like the feathers on a Peking duck. : )

No comments:

Post a Comment