Children - Spiritual Factors In Mental Growth
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Here we are dealing with the most intangible of influences. This does not mean religion, though it includes it. It means such things as reverence, love, modesty, appreciation, and the like, things which endear people to us because they show high personal quality. Brawling parents can hardly be expected to rear modest children. In a similar way, rough brawling parents cannot rear children with a deep spiritual sense. One must keep in mind that these little minds are capable of absorbing about fifty times as much as they are capable of expressing. You cannot tell what they are absorbing except by what you are giving them to absorb. By the time they begin to express them-selves, you wonder where the child learned that, always for-getting that long before he could express himself he was absorbing what was placed before him in your life and activities.
If we want to build up a mentality which shall exhibit the qualities which we admire, we must exhibit those qualities our-selves, or permit to the child associations which exhibit them. It is an old saying that you cannot gather figs from thistles. Many wise parents live their lives over in their Raising Children, and grow over with them, because thus what was denied to them in their own youth they acquire through the youth of their children. It is the best kind of mature study and growth.
These spiritual factors are often the decisive ones for the mental development of the child because they are the ones that give inward peace, poise, and simplicity of mind, and prevent rashness and rawness of mental growth. No one likes a noisy, forward child—such children show clearly the lack of the spiritual qualities. We know now, as we did not a few years ago, that these very qualities hold the future of the child's mental powers in their grasp and often determine what the type of development is going to be. There are many people we admire but cannot love. There are people we love but cannot admire. There are people whom we respect but would not be like for all the world. There are people of force and power whom we fear and possibly envy, but whose life we would not adopt for our children for worlds. These all indicate the lack of the spiritual factors in mental growth. In the making and culture of such qualities, music, poetry, the contact and love of nature, and the strict observance of mutual rights and duties, and especially the appreciations of life, spoken and unspoken, play a prominent part. The parent who keeps these things in mind and notes as her child expands mentally the influence of these various factors, will be rewarded in seeing a rich nature unfold, blossoming into a ripe and charming personality.