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in love,” replied: "No, but many of my married friends have been.”
The Training of Parents by their Children God manifestly had two purposes in mind in "setting the solitary in families.” The most fundamental purpose fulfilled by the family relation, now that we need not so much more people as better people, is, the training of the parents by the children. I do not refer to the training that many docile parents are getting from their boys and girls of ten. That is not God's, but the devil's plan.
The training of parents by children to which I refer is the unconscious influence of the babies in kindling in their parents and all about them tenderness and sympathy and God-trust and impulses toward social betterment for their sakes. Nothing is so powerful in the sculpturing of character, save the touch of God in conversion, as the touch of
“Little hands on breast and brow
In other words, next to conversion, the mightiest forces in moulding human character are marriage and parenthood.
It is most significant that the young of a human pair have a much longer period of helplessness than those of any other creatures. A newly-hatched chicken has hardly shaken from his fuzzy wings the fragments of the broken walls through which he has picked his way out into life before he is on a worm getting his own breakfast. But
1 It is most encouraging to childless parents, who devotedly seek the wel. fare of children not their own and are sometimes chided on the assumption that only those who have children of their own can understand and help the young, that Pestalozzi and Froebel, the two teachers of teachers who are generally admitted to be the supreme masters of child study, were both childless.
weeks pass into months and years before a child can spare the brooding care of his mother and father and brothers and sisters; and all this time the child in the midst" is teaching them the childlike virtues of the kingdom of Heaven.
Home a School of Citizenship Another divine purpose subserved by family life is the training of the children for citizenship. Four or five brothers and sisters learn naturally in the fellowship of daily play and chores and study how human beings should live together. It is very difficult to teach unselfish citizen
ship to a lone child. I am always sorry when I see one lone boy in a family-sorry for him and sorry for society. We've got monopolists enough already and there's another one coming on. I have heard of a thoughtful mother, who suffered for two years from surgery incident to the birth of her first child, who nevertheless deliberately undertook motherhood again lest that first child should grow up selfish. By special skill and care it may be possible to make a lone child unselfish, but it comes more naturally when there are several children so that one cannot have all the gifts and all the loving care. When there are brothers and sisters each must learn to share things and to consider the wishes and plans of the others as well as his own. He thus learns social duties early and naturally
Maurice Gregory, a well-known British leader of the purity crusade, in a description of a return voyage from the United States in 1922, in which for sociological purposes he traveled third class with immigrants going back to Europe, says of the three classes of passengers:
"Amongst the first class passengers there were twenty ‘valets' and ladies' maids, four magnificent dogs, and one child. The second class passengers had eleven children, whilst amongst our nearly seven hundred third class passengers there were seventy to eighty children. Our quarters were to the fore and aft ends of the ship, and the broad alleyways from one end of the ship to the other between these two parts were like the Italian quarter of New York, full of boys and girls playing about in the streets of our great Leviathan. And a merry lot we surely were !”
In another part of his story of his American tour he says of the hundreds of children he saw in the Italian quarter East 14th Street, New York City :
“I saw more joy and laughter and merriment in half an hour, not only on their faces, but also on those of their fathers and mothers, than I had seen, I think, during the four months of my stay in the United States."
It is seldom that big families are broken up by divorce. The smallness of the families that racially and educationally and financially are best able to beget and train children for good citizenship is a national problem, if not a peril. It might be well to see how much there is in the warning of some prophet that at present rate of increase three races will control our vast domain in a future century; the negroes doing practically all the unskilled work, the Slavs the skilled work, and the Jews handling the finances.
In a holiday season a woman entered a street car, followed by eight children. A kind old gentleman helped her seat them, and when the task was accomplished he asked, “Madam, is this a picinic or are these all your own children?” She became very serious as she answered, “They are all my own children, and it's no picnic."
I told that story in a church whose pastor was a distinguished sociologist, and long after the theme had changed, his people broke into smiles again and again. When I had finished, they apologized, saying, “We couldn't get over that story of the picnic, for Dr. Bwho was sitting there so solemn in the pulpit has just eight children." And to cap the climax, the mother and most of her chicks were sitting all the while in the “Amen Corner," out of range of my eye but where everybody else could see them. She, too, apologized, but I looked in her bright face, almost as fresh as her children's, and saw that she had not made the mistake of many mothers who wear themselves out doing work their children ought to do for themselves and for each other. Manifestly she had