Victorian Mother and Baby Image Courtesy of OldDesignShop
1850,  Browse By Era,  Browse by Subject,  Etiquette and Social Life,  Victorian

The Mother’s First Duty

I WOULD wish every mother to pay attention to the difference between a course of action, adopted in compliance with the authority, and between a conduct pursued for the sake of another.
The first proceeds from reasoning; the second flows from affection. The first may be abandoned, when the immediate cause may have ceased to exist; the latter will be permanent, as it did not depend upon circumstances, or accidental considerations, but is founded in a moral and constant principle.

In the case now before us, if the infant does not disappoint the hope of the mother, it will be a proof, first of affection, secondly, of confidence.

Of affection for the earliest, and the most innocent wish to please, is that of the infant to please the mother. If it be questioned, whether that wish can at all exist in one so little advanced in developmert, I would again, as I do upon almost all occasions, appeal to the experience of mothers.

It is a proof, also, of confidence. Whenever an infant has been neglected; when the necessary attention has not been paid to its wants and when, instead of the smile of kindness, it been treated with the frown of severity; it will be difficult to restore it to that quiet and amiable disposition, in which it will wait for the gratification of its desires without impatience, and enjoy it without greediness.

If affection and confidence have once gained ground in the heart, it will be the first duty of the mother to do every thing in her power to encourage, to strengthen, and to elevate this principle. Pestalozzi.