Cotton Mather: “A Puritan Father’s Lesson Plan” (Part 5)

[continued from part 4]

11. I wish that my children may as soon as may be, feel the principles of reason and honor working in them-and that I may carry on their education, very much upon those principles. Therefore, first, I will wholly avoid that harsh, fierce, [ill-tempered] usage of the children that would make them tremble and abhor to come into my presence. I will treat them so that they shall fear to offend me, and yet mightily love to see me, and be glad of my coming home if I have been abroad at any time. I will have it looked upon as a severe and awful punishment to be forbidden for awhile to come into my presence. I will raise in them an high opinion of their father’s love to them, and of his being better able to judge what is good for them than they are for themselves. I will bring them to believe ‘tis best for them to be and do as I will have them. I will continually magnify the matter to them, what a brave thing ‘tis to know the things that are excellent; and more brave to do the things that are virtuous. I will have them to propose it as a reward of their well-doing at any time, I will now go to my father, and he will teach me something that I was never taught before. I will have them afraid of doing any [immoral] thing, from horror of the [immorality] in it. My first response to finding a lesser fault in them shall be a surprise, a wonder, vehemently expressed before them, that ever they should be guilty of doing so foolishly; a vehement belief that they will never do the like again; a weeping resolution in them, that they will not. I will never dispense a blow, except it be for an atrocious crime or for a lesser fault obstinately persisted in; either for an enormity, or for an obstinacy. I will always proportion the chastisements to the miscarriages; neither smiting bitterly for a very small piece of childishness nor frowning only a little for some real wickedness. Nor shall my chastisement ever be dispensed in a passion and a fury; but I will first show them the command of God, by transgressing whereof they have displeased me. The slavish, raving, fighting way of discipline is too commonly used. I look upon it as a considerable article in the wrath and curse of God upon a miserable world.

[to be continued]

#children, #cotton-mather, #father