To Mothers Of Young Children
By Andrew Murray
It may be helpful to parents, to young mothers especially, to give a short summary of the principles on which all training rests. Let them meditate carefully and prayerfully on what it implies. They will find that it is a work that cannot be performed without careful thought and earnest purpose. It is only as reflection opens up to them the infinite significance of the holy work of molding, of really forming and giving shape to an immortal spirit, that they will feel urged with due fervor and faith to plead the promise:
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally…and it shall be given him" (Jas. 1:5).
1. Training is more than teaching. Teaching makes a child know and understand what he is to do; training influences and sees that he does it. Teaching deals with his mind; training, with his will.
2. Prevention is better than cure. Not to watch and correct mistakes, but to watch and prevent mistakes, is true training. To lead the child to know that he can obey and do right, that he can do it easily and successfully, and to delight in doing it – is the highest aim of true training.
3. Habits must precede principles. Habits influence the person by giving a certain bent and direction, by making the performance of certain acts easy and natural, and thus preparing the way for obedience from principle.
4. The cultivation of the feelings precedes that of the judgment. The early years of childhood are marked by the liveliness of feelings and the susceptibility of impressions. The parent seeks to create a feeling favorable to the good, to make it attractive and desirable. Without this, habits will have little value; with it, they have a connecting link by which they enter and grow into the will.
5. Example is better than precept. Not in what we say and teach, but in what we are and do, lies the power of training. Not as we think as an ideal for which to train our children, but as we live do we train them. It is not our wishes or our theory, but our will and our practice that really train. It is by living the Christ-life that we prove that we love it, that we have it; and thus will influence the young mind to love it and to have it too.
6. Love that draws is more than love that demands. Training children needs a life of self-sacrifice, of love that seeks not its own, but lives and gives itself for its object. For this God has given the wonderful mother-love: it needs but to be directed into the right channel as the handmaid of God’s redeeming love. Law alone always works sin and wrath.
Love gives itself with its thought and strength to live for and in the other and breathes its own stronger and better life into the weaker one. Love inspires and it is inspiration that is the secret of training.
– From Message of the Cross.