in: Family, Featured, People

• Last updated: May 29, 2021

Wise Parenting Dos and Don’ts From 1886

Vintage family portrait of a couple having two sons and a daughter.

Editor’s note: The following excerpt comes from Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms by Thomas Edie Hill, which was published in 1886.

What Parents Should Never Do

Never speak harshly to a child.

Never use disrespectful names.

Never use profane or vulgar words in the presence of a child.

Do not be so cold and austere as to drive your child from you.

Never misrepresent. If you falsify the child will learn to deceive also.

Never withhold praise when the child deserves it. Commendation is one of the sweetest pleasures of childhood.

Never waken your children before they have completed their natural slumbers in the morning. See that they retire early, and thus have the requisite time for sleep. Children require more sleep than older persons. The time will come soon enough when care and trouble will compel them to waken in the early morning. Let them sleep while they can.

Do not reproach a child for a mistake which was made with a good motive at the time. Freely forgive, wisely counsel, and the child will thus be taught that there is no danger in telling the truth.

Never give your children money indiscriminately to spend for their own use. However wealthy you may be, teach the child the value of money by requiring it to earn it in some manner. Commencing young, let the child perform simple duties requiring labor, which the parent may reward by pennies and very small sums. Let the child thus spend only money of its own earning. The boy who thus early learns by labor the value of a dollar knows how to accumulate the same in after-life, and how to save it.

Never demean yourself by getting angry and whipping a child. The very fact of your punishing in anger arouses the evil nature of the child. Some day the punishment thus inflicted will react upon yourself.

What Parents Should Do

Always speak in a pleasant voice.

Teach your children how to work; how to obtain a living by their own efforts. Teach them the nobility and the dignity of labor, that they may respect and honor the producer.

Explain the reason why. The child is a little walking interrogation point. To it all is new. Explain the reason. Your boy will some day repay this trouble by teaching some other child.

Teach your children the evil of secret vice, and the consequence of using tobacco and spirituous liquors; teach them to be temperate, orderly, punctual, prompt, truthful, neat, faithful, and honest.

Encourage your child to be careful of personal appearance; to return every tool to its place; to always pay debts promptly; to never shirk a duty; to do an equal share, and to always live up to an agreement.

Teach your children to confide in you by conference together. Tell them your plans, and sometimes ask their advice; they will thus open their hearts to you and will ask your advice.

Give your children your confidence in the affairs of your business. They will thus take interest, and become co-workers with you.

Teach your children those things which they will need when they become men and women. Think what a man and woman needs to know in order to be healthy, happy, prosperous, and successful, and teach them that.

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