( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IT is the opinion of many whose judgment is well worth heeding, that the first day of a baby's life is not too soon to impress upon the dawning intelligence the necessity of submission to circumstances and law; of obedience to authority and the value of self-control. For example, Dr. Emelyn L. Coolidge, an eminent specialist in the care of infants, declares:
"The cry of temper should never be given in to or the mother will regret it later. Baby's training must be begun from the first day. He should not be rocked to sleep, trotted, nor walked the floor with, nor allowed to suck his thumb or `pacifier.' All of these habits will soon have to be broken, so why begin them ? He needs all the love he can get, but he should be made a happy little blessing and not a naughty little tyrant."
This seems a severe doctrine, but the last sentence explains and justifies it. It has been sagaciously said that the moment the first, or any, baby arrives, the question presents itself "Shall the house adjust itself to the baby or the baby to the house?" No one who has seen the former condition will uphold that policy. Family love may center about a baby, but there is no reason why all the family should be upset for years by the whims of a little animal who hasn't the least idea of what he is about or how it affects others. If you have a puppy that is worth raising, you treat him substantially as well as you do your son or daughter, but you don't hesitate to compel him to behave himself, nor do you disarrange your usual manner of life. The two animals are pretty closely alike for a while; and the mother might often save herself and her baby much trouble and sorrow then and afterward if she took a hint from the method her husband uses with his precious puppy. Almost every mother has to decide very early whether she or the newcomer is to rule. "If his mother is a washerwoman, he gets no answer" as Mr. Abbott remarks; "she goes about her washing and he finds his place without much remonstrance. The children of the poor are blessed with mothers who have this problem settled for them by the gaunt hand of necessity. If, however, this lordling has been born in the purple, even of a very light shade, he has a good chance of seizing the scepter at the very first grasp. He certainly will seize it and wield it relentlessly, if his mother decides to do the easiest thing. Of course, there are cases which cannot be considered normal. Ordinarily, however, the issue is not long postponed. Probably it will be most distinctly varied over a question of feeding. The foundation of an absolute monarchy within many a plain American home has been laid by allowing the diminutive heir apparent to engage in midnight feasting when every consideration of orderliness commanded sleep."
This does not necessarily imply harshness or a Spartan in-difference to the little one's discomfort, or refraining from the indulgent and comforting caresses which mean so much to both mother and child. "The divine plan," remarks Kate E. Blake, "seems to be to lead little children by delights as well as by penalties. . . . When all physical requirements are satisfied, there remains for the human being, not only intellectual requirements, but spiritual and moral ones. Love is the deepest force in the life of the adult being; one might suspect from this that it has its roots deep in the emotional nature of the child-deeper than in his brain, even."
Nevertheless, whether or not parents may have the courage, or think it wise, to make the fight in the cradle there is no question but that a baby accustomed to submit and adjust itself to circumstances and regulations will more easily take the next step, which is Obedience.