Sources: The Freedom Of Life
MOST mothers know that it is better for the baby to put him into his
crib and let him go quietly to sleep by himself, than to rock him to
sleep or put him to sleep in his mother's arms.
Most mothers know also the difficulty of getting the baby into the
right habit of going to sleep; and the prolonged crying that has to
be endured by both mother and baby before the habit is thoroughly
Many a mother gets worn out in listening to her crying child, and
goes to bed tired and jaded, although she has done nothing but sit
still and listen. Many more, after listening and fretting for a
while, go and take up the baby, and thus they weaken him as well as
their own characters.
A baby who finds out, when he is two months old, that his mother
will take him up if he cries, is also apt to discover, if be cries
or teases enough, that his mother will let him have his own way for
the rest of his life.
The result is that the child rules the mother, rather than the
mother the child; and this means sad trouble and disorder for both.
Strong, quiet beginnings are a most valuable help to all good things
in life, and if a young mother could begin by learning how to sit
quietly and restfully and let her baby cry until he quieted down and
went to sleep, she would be laying the foundation for a very happy
life with her children.
The first necessity, after having seen that nothing is hurting him
and that he really needs nothing, is to be willing that he should
cry. A mother can make herself willing by saying over and over to
herself, "It is right that he should cry; I want him to cry until he
has learned to go to sleep quietly by himself He will be a stronger
and a more healthy man for getting into all good habits as a child."
Often the mother's spirit is willing, or wants to be willing, but
her nerves rebel if, while she is teaching herself to listen
quietly, she will take long, quiet breaths very steadily for some
time, and will occupy herself with interesting work, she will find
it a great help toward dropping nervous resistance.
Children are much more sensitive than most people know, and readily
respond to the mother's state of mind; and even though the mother is
in the next room, if she is truly dropping her nervous resistance
and tension, the baby will often stop his crying all the sooner, and
besides, his mother will feel the good effects of her quiet yielding
in her care of the baby all day long. She will be rested instead of
tired when the baby has gone to sleep. She will have a more
refreshing sleep herself, and she will be able to care for the baby
more restfully when they are both awake.
It is a universal rule that the more excited or naughty the children
are, the more quiet and clear the mother should be. A mother who
realizes this for the first time, and works with herself until she
is free from all excited and strained resistance, discovers that it
is through her care for her children that she herself has learned
how to live. Blessed are the children who have such a mother, and
blessed is the mother of those children!
It is resistance--resistance to the naughtiness or disobedience in
the child that not only hurts and tires the mother, but interferes
with the best growth of the child.
"What!" a mother may say, "should I want my child to be naughty?
What a dreadful thing!"
No, we should not want our children to be naughty, but we should be
willing that they should be. We should drop resistance to their
naughtiness, for that will give us clear, quiet minds to help them
out of their troubles.
All vehemence is weak; quiet, clear decision is strong; and the
child not only feels the strength of the quiet, decisive action, but
he feels the help from his mother's quiet atmosphere which comes
with it. If all parents realized fully that the work they do for
their children should be done in themselves first, there would soon
be a new and wonderful influence perceptible all about us.
The greatest difficulty often comes from the fact that children have
inherited the evil tendencies of their parents, which the parents
themselves have not acknowledged and overcome. In these cases, most
of all, the work to be done for the child must first be done in the
A very poor woman, who was living in one room with her husband and
three children, once expressed her delight at having discovered how
to manage her children better: "I see!" she said, "the more I
hollers, the more the children hollers; now I am not going to holler
There is "hollering" of the voice, and there is "hollering" of the
spirit, and children echo and suffer from both.
The same thing is true from the time they are born until they are
grown up, when it should be right for them to be their own fathers
and mothers, so far as their characters are concerned, that they can
receive the greatest possible help from their parents through quiet
non-resistance to their naughtiness, combined with firm decision in
demanding obedience to law,--a decision which will derive its weight
and influence from the fact that the parents themselves obey the
laws to which they require obedience.
Thus will the soul of the mother be mother to the soul of her child,
and the development of mother and child be happily interdependent.
It is, of course, not resisting to be grieved at the child's
naughtiness,--for that grief must come as surely as penitence for
our own wrongdoing.
The true dropping of resistance brings with it a sense that the
child is only given to us in trust, and an open, loving willingness
leaves us free to learn the highest way in which the trust may be