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Parental Example And Parental Admonition

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Just one word about the relation of the instruction of the parent and the example of the parent. You cannot tell a boy to keep clean if you are not in the habit of keeping clean yourself. No mother who is slatternly in her own personal habits and appearance can effectively require of her little daughter that she shall be neat, cleanly, and tidy. Example and admonition should go hand in hand. As to boys, up to a certain point a boy does what his mother advises; after that he DOES what some man, usually his father, DOES. Example is much more powerful than admonition. Young boys and girls gain almost as much as little children by imitation as by advice. They see your carriage, they see your habits, they feel the texture of your physical morale, they note whether YOU wash your hands before eating and the like, and they DO what they see you do. So this relation needs to be very carefully guarded because, with the very best intention, a child cannot make a better set of habits or develop a higher physical standard than that by which it is habitually confronted, because that seems to rebuke anything different. Boys and girls will often answer you, "But my father or my mother does so and so" and for that there is no effective reply. Make it clear to yourself that every word you say must be reinforced by what you do. Then you have a driving machine which often works wonders. Sometimes this also discovers the key to what is wrong in the home, and leads to the return of happiness and comfort for parents and children alike.

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