Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Influence of Clothes on Children's Character

This article is from the February 1909 issue of the Mother's Magazine.
What insight!

The baby of one year, or less, is attracted by pretty things. Notice how the little hand goes up to mother’s neck to pull at her brooch. It will pick at the setting of a ring on one’s hand, and grasp in its little fist the ribbon bow on sister’s hair. When baby is two years old it knows the meaning of being dressed in its best. It prefers new shoes to old ones.
At the age of three there comes, with further appreciation of clothes and articles of personal adornment, a distinct personal sense. Baby knows that it is itself. It makes use of the terms I, me and mine understandingly. It is conscious, not only of self, but of self in an environment, an atmosphere. Its belongings, clothes and toys, also parents, brothers and sisters, servants, house and furniture, make up its environment – an objective environment that enters into thoughts of its personality.
It is important that the mother recognize the child’s sense of environment. She should provide, so far as possible, an environment of objects that will react favorably on the child’s character. If anyone doubts that environment affects the character of children, let him compare a group from the slums of a city with a group of children of prosperous parents. The difference will be found not only in the dress and cleanliness of person, but in the expressions of the little faces, tones of the voices, and poses of the little bodies. The difference is a matter of environment, more than of birth and heredity. For if the unfortunate of the slums be transplanted into a favorable environment, if it be given all the accessories for character-development that the children of the well-to-do possess, there will be a new creature. The shadows that lurked in the eyes will disappear. Instead of the shrinking manner, there will be self-possession; instead of awkwardness, graces. Social extremes are cited; but the principle enunciated, that environment exerts a powerful influence on the characters of children, holds good among people of all intermediate grades.
Of objects making up the thing called environment, perhaps none so nearly touches the child as clothes. Clothes are thought of in a child’s concept of self. It can get away from an unattractive home, but it cannot get away from clothes.
Through the medium of clothes, habits of personal neatness and cleanliness may be fostered in early childhood, and mistakes in taste corrected. It will be obvious to the ordinary little person’s intelligence that fresh, clean clothes call for a clean little person; that it would be most unfit to put on clean clothes without first taking a bath. When a child has learned that dainty, clean garments, including undergarments, properly fitted and adjusted, are nicer than tawdry outside finery worn with soiled or shabby undergarments, it has unconsciously grasped a moral truth.
The effect of pretty clothes upon the little wearer of them, is to a large extend vitiated if the motive of the mother in providing the clothes was a love of display.
The child knows what is in the mother’s heart. Wearing its fine clothes under such conditions, it catches a taint of mother’s artificial views and unworthy ideals.
The shallow mother who encourages vanity in her children has her antitype in the mother who thinks it makes little difference how her children are dressed, provided their clothes are whole and clean and adapted to the season.
She credits her child’s fondness for pretty things to acquired tastes, and sets before the child her own mature ideas on the subject. She says to the dissatisfied little girl: “Stop coaxing me for new clothes. You have better clothes than I had at your age.” She forgets, or, if she remembers, thinks it very unimportant, that as a child, she too fretted about having to wear unbecoming clothes.
One of the anomalies of everyday life is that of a parent, who would not think of compelling a child to bear a physical burden unfitted for its years, expecting in the same child the moral development, and the heroism, of an adult in the matter of submitting to objectionable clothes.
Many grown people testify to the pain they endured as children on account of having to wear clothes that were distasteful to them. Doubtless the strange shyness and timidity of others is to be attributed to the origin of dress. Like grown people, children are at their best when they approve of themselves.
A teacher relates this incident from her experience, showing the influence of clothes on the character of children: “My pupils were, with two exceptions, the children of well-to-do working people. The exceptions were the little son of a very wealthy man and a little ragged fellow, the child of shiftless parents. Strangely enough, the perfectly-dressed little boy chose his opposite for a chum.
“It was painful to see the sense of inferiority and abjectness that the less fortunate child manifested. One day he came up to my desk and asked if Frederic and he might go out together. Going out by twos was a privilege sometimes granted. This time I refused. In a short time the boy returned to the desk, repeating the request, and backing it up by a reason that seemed to him all-sufficient. “Frederic wants to go!’ he emphasized, with a look that seemed to say, ‘It doesn’t matter about me, but surely you won’t refuse Frederic!’ My second ‘no’ quite bewildered the little fellow. Soon after I called him to me when I was alone and explained that I would not be any more likely to favor Frederic than he in the matter of letting them go out together, or in any other way; that at school they were all on an equality. I shall never forget the strange stare of astonishment on the little face that looked into mine as I tried to talk ‘Americanism.” The soul that animated the ill-clad little body seemed to partake of the nature of rags and patches.”
While a strong character can rise superior to the accident of clothes, as the success of many a barefoot boy and ragged girl attests, the rule that environment, and more especially dress, exerts an influence for good or ill on the moral and intellectual life of the young, holds for the majority.

Our Family Campout

Here are a few photos of some family fun from this summer (Okay, so it's a few months late!)-I guess I have to admit that I'm a reptiliophile (not sure if that's a real word, I just made it up!)-I've loved snakes, lizards, and turtles since I was wee.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Master Franklin David Graham

Here are some photos of our baby boy, little Frankie!

A Tribute to Children

“We behold a child. Who is it? Whose is it? What is it? It is in the center of fantastic light, and only a dim revealed form appears. It is God’s own child, as all children are. The blood Adam and Eve, through how many soever channels diverging, runs in its veins; and the spirit of the Eternal, which blows everywhere, has animated it. It opens its eyes upon us, stretches out its hands to us as all children do. Can you love it? It may be an heir of a throne,--does it interest you? Or of a milking-stool,---do not despise it. It is a miracle of the All-working; it is endowed by the All-gifted. Smile upon it, it will a smile give back again; prick it, it will cry.

Where does it belong? In what zone or climate? It may have been born on the Thames or the Amazon, the Hoang-ho or the Mississippi. It is God’s child still, and its mother’s. It is curiously and wonderfully made. The inspiration of the Almighty hath given it understanding. It will look after God by how many soever names he may be called; it will seek to know; it will long to be loved; it will sin and be miserable; if it has none to care for it, it will die.” ~Judd’s Margaret