Posted in Family & Parenting, Habits & Character, Poetry

Try Try Again

Jacopo Vignali - Orphée et Eurydice

A poem my mother always used to quote to me.  I thought I should learn more of the words:

Try Try Again

by T. H. Palmer

‘Tis a lesson you should heed,
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try again;

Then your courage should appear,
For if you will persevere,
You will conquer, never fear
Try, try again;

Once or twice, though you should fail,
If you would at last prevail,
Try, try again;

If we strive, ’tis no disgrace
Though we do not win the race;
What should you do in the case?
Try, try again

If you find your task is hard,
Time will bring you your reward,
Try, try again

All that other folks can do,
Why, with patience, should not you?
Only keep this rule in view:
Try, try again.


Posted in Family & Parenting, Habits & Character, My Life

Well, I Didn’t Have A Snake!

Crotalus adamanteus (5)

Enigma, 4, has been working very hard at controlling his temper.  Sometimes, however, it still gets the best of him.  Last week was one of those times.  After becoming enraged that his older sister was sitting in “his” spot, Enigma got mad and wacked her with a toy (older sister wasn’t injured but did play things up a bit to get some extra attention).

When I talked with Enigma about his behaviour a short while later, I asked him why he had hit his sister with a toy.  Enigma very calmly explained to me that it was because he didn’t have a snake.  A snake???  I questioned.  This was his response:

“Yes, Mommy.  First, I wanted to throw a poisonous snake at [Older sister].  But I didn’t have a poisonous snake.  So I decided to hit her with my toy instead.”

At least he’s honest!  Now we just have to work a little more on proportionate responses to other people’s actions…


Unkind Words and Unkind Actions

FannyBrate Retstickor

Some advice on how to deal with children’s unkind speech and/or unkind actions:

Posted in Family & Parenting, Habits & Character

How Women Influence the Character of a Nation

As women go, so goes the nation:


1386612_14668269“THERE is a beautiful parallelism between the condition of woman in her domestic life, and the character of a nation. She is the mother of men, and the former of their minds, at that early age when every word distils upon the heart, like the dew-drop upon the tender grass. There is to that young mind no truth or falsehood in the world but that whose words flow from the mother’s lips. There is no beauty in character, nor glory in action, which has not been concentrated by her praise. There is to that climbing child no path where the mother’s feet has not trod. Her mind is to his the supernatural pillar of fire which illumines his mid-night ignorance, and the silvery cloud which at mid-day precedes him in every highway to the world. And, even when science has conducted her pupil through the highest walls of knowledge; or when art has polished him into the accomplished citizen; or when power has dignified him with the memorials of office, she still lives in his soul, which she has imbued from her heart’s “pictured urn, With thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.”

It is thus that society is formed in its social and moral ideas, and thus that its condition must ever present, on a large scale, a parallelism in its moral life, to the condition of woman. It is not matter of fancy, but a great social fact.”

Source and read more:

Posted in Family & Parenting, Habits & Character

Young People: Your Little Brother

child-clipart-3Many young people have younger brothers, little brothers sometimes, in their home. In every such case, there is a responsibility which is not always recognized. If older brothers and sisters knew the influence they have over their little brothers, it would make them very thoughtful.

It is no doubt true, that older brothers and sisters are divinely appointed guardians for younger children. The story of Miriam and little Moses is one of the most charming stories of the Bible. While the baby lay in the ark among the bulrushes, by the water’s edge, the young girl with quick ear and keen eye stood not far away — near enough to see all that went on, and to be of instant help in case of danger.

In many a home, older sisters have played the role of Miriam to perfection. Many a man today occupying an important position in the world, owes the opportunities by which he was enabled to rise to his position — to an older sister, who kept sacred watch over his infancy and early years. There are many men today in the professions and occupying high places in the world, who came from homes amid straitened circumstances, and who owe all they are to the sister who forgot herself, practiced self-denials, and toiled early and late — that the brother she loved might go to school and to college, and thus have a chance to rise to the honor which she in her loving heart had dreamed for him.

Then sometimes alas! when the man is out in the world — he forgets the weary woman, living somewhere in obscurity, perhaps in poverty, to whom he owes all his distinction and greatness!

It may be worth while to call the attention of older brothers and sisters — to the little brother at home, who needs guidance, encouragement, and stimulus. Far more than you know, he watches you, and is influenced by your every movement. He will be impressed much more also, by what you do and what you are — than by any teaching he may receive from you.

It is important that you know just how to make the most of your influence over him. You cannot do it by perpetually nagging at him; nagging is one of the most mischievous vices of the home-life. It is all the worse, because it is practiced in the name of piety and virtue. The best you can do for him is first of all to be good yourself.

When the young Princess Victoria discovered one day that she was near the throne, she said, “I must be good.” The thought of the great responsibility which some day might be hers, impressed her most wholesomely. When you think of the influence you are to exercise over your little brother, you should settle it once for all, that you will be good.

Another thing you can do, will be to form a close friendship with him. Take him into your confidence. Let him talk to you freely and familiarly. Teach him to trust you, and never betray his confidence. Be a loyal friend to him. Treat even his most childish behaviors with respect. Never laugh at him. Do not hurry his development: it is like trying to hasten the opening of a flower; only harm can be done by such a process.

You can answer his questions, and you ought to do it very patiently. Remember it is a new world in which he is living. Every day brings him into a new world of wonders. He ought to ask questions. He would not be a wholesome child if he did not. You can help him by trying to answer these questions. You can guide his reading. You can quietly influence him in the choosing of his friends. This is very important. He does not know the good from the evil, and you can withdraw him from the company of those with whom it were better he should not associate. You can set before him visions of beauty which will become influences to draw him toward the best things.

If your own heart is right, and if you keep yourself in the spirit of childhood, you will be able to lead him in safe ways. The world is full of dangers. Your little brother hears on the streets many things he ought not to hear. You can quietly lead him so that he will instinctively repel all temptations to anything low or base or impure. You can turn his mind toward the possibilities of beauty within his reach. You can continually keep before him noble things in disposition, in conduct, in character, thus quietly inspiring in him the desire to fill his own life with such worthy things.

There is a great responsibility in having a little brother. He is always around, and you cannot get out of his sight. He has keen eyes too, and sees all that you do. You dare not live carelessly in his presence, for you may become his stumbling-block. There should be nothing in your example, which you would be sorry to see again in him.

This little brother of yours loves you, and wants to trust you. Your influence over him will be almost unbounded; you must see to it that this influence is pure and wholesome in every way.

The older brother must answer for his little brother; he is his keeper. He must make himself worthy of his sacred trust.

If his own heart is not clean,
if his own mind is not wholesome,
if his own hands are stained —
then he is not fit to be a boy’s older brother.

The thing for the older brother to do in such a case, is not to thrust the boy away from his natural place of confidence and affection — but to bring up his own life to the true standard of purity, sweetness, and beauty, where he shall be worthy to be a friend of Christ’s little ones.

Source: Young People’s Problems by J.R. Miller, 1898,

Posted in Family & Parenting, Habits & Character, Homeschooling Issues, Socialization, Uncategorized

Young People: About Your Friends


Friendships begin very early. Little children form tender associations which mean much to their happiness, and which sometimes last through their life. We all need friendships. In solitary confinement, men have been known to make friends of insects and little animals, the only living creatures they could have for companions. Aloneness is one of the most pathetic experiences of human life.

Nothing is more important to young people, than the choosing of their friends. Really, it is almost the settling of their whole future. The kind of friends one begins with is apt to stay with always. If you accept and choose as your friends in early youth those who are good, refined, and aspiring — you are setting your life in the direction of whatever things are true, just, honorable, pure, and lovely. Almost certainly, your whole future will be on the same wholesome lines.

But if you attach yourself in friendship to those who are unworthy, whose life is earthly and sinful, who are not true and noble — you, in effect, fix your place and your character in a drift which will be toward things that are not good, and that do not tend to honor and beauty of soul.

There is a sense in which our friends are chosen for us before we are old enough to distinguish between the worthy and the unworthy: those who will help us upward — and those who will drag us downward. Happy is the child who is under the influence and guidance of wise and godly parents, who see to it that the first friendships formed are what they should be! The indifference of parents in this matter often has been responsible for the wrecking of their children’s lives. They paid no heed to the character of the playmates and companions of their earliest years; exercised no restraining influence, no discrimination, in choosing between the fit and the unfit, in those whom they admitted as their children’s first friends. While they slept, the enemy sowed tares.

But after the years of infancy and earliest youth, young people have a great deal to do with the choosing of their own friends. I am not speaking of love between young men and young women, of love which may ripen into marriage; I am speaking of friendship, which is a different matter altogether. Love presents a “problem” of its own; but we all need common friendships, and it is very important that they be formed wisely and carefully.

There is a tendency among young people to be altogether too indiscriminate in forming their friendships. All who come are admitted to a kind of general intimacy. Youth is hospitable to friendships, and is disposed to confide without question, and to make room for every new companionship that offers. There is need, however, for reserve at this point. No doubt the law of Christian love requires us to be courteous to all, even to strangers, to show the kindness to everyone we meet, even most casually. But we are not required to take every chance acquaintance, into the place of friendship. Here we must learn to exercise the greatest caution and reserve.

Character should be made a test. Young people should shut out of their life everything that would defile or tarnish, and whatever would make it harder for them to be true and worthy. Life’s battle is hard enough at best, and instead of admitting influences which would make the struggle for them more severe — they should always seek the contacts and inspirations which will make it easier for them to live nobly and worthy.

To take into the life a friendship which is not godly and pure, which will become a temptation toward a lower moral standard, toward a less beautiful and helpful life, toward frivolousness, indolence, irreverence, or selfishness — is, at the best, to make it harder to live beautifully. Young people should have the courage to shut out of their life, all friendships whose influence could work in them only moral deterioration, and hinder their growth into the best possible character.

Among other qualities, sympathy is required in those who would make us good friends. There must be fellowship, and fellowship is impossible between unsympathetic spirits. This does not necessarily mean that there shall be agreement in all their opinions — differences of view ofttimes adds interest and zest to fellowship; but the natures must have a congeniality that will make it easy for them to blend. There are natures which never can blend — they are to each other like fire and dry tinder. Instead of calling out the best — each brings out the worst in the other.

In deciding upon who their friends shall be, young people should choose only those with whom they can live in cordial sympathy.

It is well also that between friends the relations, shall be such that neither shall be too greatly dependent on the other. One quality of all true friendship is the desire “not to be ministered unto — but to minister.” A friendship whose chief object is to receive, to be helped, to be served — is only selfish. On the other hand, one must be willing to receive as well as to give. All giving and helping, with no receiving or being helped — is not a practical basis of good friendship. It is better therefore that there is, as nearly as possible, an equality of condition, so that the help given may be mutual and reciprocal.

It is not necessary that your friends should be about your own age. Every young person ought to have friends older than himself. The older are better for counsel; and the young people are fortunate indeed who have one or two wise, true, and sympathetic friends of more years than their own, to whom they can go with the serious questions and problems which continually arise in every earnest mind. Young people often advise rashly and impetuously; an older friend, who has learned wisdom in the experiences of years, will give wiser and safer counsel.

We need to be ever seeking new friends, or at least holding our heart’s doors open to receive the new friends whom God may send to us. We need new friends to take the place of those we lose as we go on our way. Death is ever busy, and no friendship is strong enough to resist his cruel hand. Friends are lost, too, in other ways, sometimes by reason of changes in life’s conditions.

Then friendships seem sometimes to be outgrown. We deplore their dying out, when perhaps the truth is that these friendships were sent to us on a definite errand, to minister to us in a particular way and but for a time. Then, when their ministry is completed, they fall off. But we have not really lost them, nor should we ever forget them, or the part they have had in the making of our life. God sends us new friends for new needs, not to displace the old — but to carry on the good which the old began.

One friend is not enough. Some young people are inclined to make one very intimate friendship, and to allow that to exclude all other companionships. Sometimes they are so exacting to demand that the one favored friend shall scarcely even treat any other person kindly. Such an exacting spirit is very narrow, showing utter selfishness and lack of confidence in the friend who is held in such bondage.

Young people will do well, also, to guard against too great and too unreserved intimacy, even with their best friends. There is sure to be an estrangement sooner or later, if the association is too close or free. For example, when two girls are seen always together, almost giving up every other friendship and companionship for each other, it is usually safe to predict a short-lived intimacy. By and by they grow tired of each other. It is better always, even in the closest friendship, to maintain a measure of reserve, never to give all, not to see too much of each other. A friendship which exercises wise self-restraint, which is not too emotional, too free and unreserved — will prove the surest and the most lasting, and in all ways the most wholesome.

It need not even be said that young people would better chose for their friends those who love and follow Christ. There is a wondrous secret of safety in Christian companionship. The fellowship which deepens into true Christian fellowship, is very sacred. The friendship which is hallowed by the love of Christ, is woven of a threefold cord which cannot be broken. God reveals his love to us, in the love of our true Christian friends. It is he who gives us our friends, and we must recognize the gift with reverence and love.

It is well for us to remember that friendship requires also something on our part. It cannot be all on one side. Love may be — but friendship must give as well as receive. It costs to be a friend. Then we must be worthy if we would take another life into the place of confidence and affection. Charles Lamb warned a young man who was disposed to confide in him — that he was not good enough to be his friend. We need to make sure that our heart is pure and that our hands are clean, before we accept the confidence and trust of a human heart. Then we must be loyal and faithful to our friend, once chosen, whatever the cost may be.

Source: Young People’s Problems by J.R. Miller, 1898,

Posted in Family & Parenting, Habits & Character

Young People: About Your Father


Perhaps fathers have been neglected. Volumes have been written and countless sermons have been preached about mothers. Their devotion and self-sacrifice have been commented upon without stint. Children are taught to honor their mother, to remember always what she has done for them, and what they owe to her, to think of her happiness, and to care for her in her old age, with all gentleness and thoughtfulness.

This is well. No words can exaggerate the sacredness of motherhood, or the value and importance of the mother’s influence on the child. God comes to us first in our mother. We cannot pay too much honor to our mother, nor do too much to bring comfort and blessing to her.

But the fathers should not be forgotten. Where does anyone find in the Bible that mothers have all the responsibility for the training and bringing up of the children? The Scriptures certainly lay the burden upon both parents; at least, they do not put it all on the mother. The father is to teach his children the commandments of God; the mother cannot be held alone responsible, for their religious instruction. It is time some sermons were prepared and preached, and some books written, on the solemnity and sacredness of fatherhood.

Then, in the building of the home, the father, unless he is a most unworthy man, or an utter nonentity — has an essential part. There are many good fathers; not all are indifferent to their home. There are many men who are truly devoted to the interests of their families. The mother may seem to get nearer to a child’s heart, and to be first in influence upon a child’s life. But it is time an earnest word was spoken in behalf of fathers — of the nobleness and worth of their part in the home life, and the honor due to them from children.

What has your father done for you? He did not nurse you, and wash and dress you, when you were a crying baby. He did not . . .
rock your cradle,
teach you the hundred first lessons of infancy,
mend your playthings,
help you with your dolls and toys,
nor even train you in saying your prayers.

There are many things which were very important in your bringing up, which most likely your father did not do. No doubt there are elements in your thoughts of your mother, which have no place in your visions of fatherhood, as it forms itself before you out of memory’s holy experiences.

Yet there are other elements which belong rather to fatherhood than to motherhood, and which were quite as important in the sheltering and molding of your childhood, as those which are so idealized in the pictures of true motherhood. We think of the tenderness there is in a mother’s heart — something wondrously akin to the divine tenderness, inexhaustible in its patience, its thoughtfulness, and its comforting power.

But corresponding to this in the true father there is strength — strength which toils, which defends, which shelters from the rough storm, which stands like a rock. Surely strength is as divine as tenderness. There may be less sentimentality in it — but for life’s practical uses, its value is no less than that of the softer quality.

Think of the sturdy side of your father’s character, and of what it has been to you. If your mother’s love made the home-life like a heavenly summer to you — then it was your father who built the material home in which such holy warmth was possible. It was your father who earned the money which provided the comforts. It was your father who braved the storms of winter and endured the heats of summer — to make shelter for you. You never can know just how your father toiled for you, how he denied himself ofttimes — that you might not lack anything; how he made sacrifices, that better privileges than he himself had ever enjoyed, might be yours. There is something very touching in the way some fathers struggle and deny themselves, that they may save their children the necessity for struggle and self-denial.

Then, if you have been blessed with a godly father, think of all the privileges you have enjoyed from his toil. Children are the inheritors of their father’s name as well as his property. If he lives worthily — he lifts them up to a place of honor in the community. Think of the education you have had, the opportunities for growth in knowledge and wisdom. Perhaps your father had only scant schooling in his youth, and now you are in the university or the college. A little thought or reflection will show you that you owe to your father a large debt for favors and blessings which are of incalculable value to you.

Perhaps you have been in the habit of saying that God’s Providence is very good to you. Yes — but your father is your providence — under God, of course — but nevertheless indisputably; for without your father’s toil and faithfulness, these blessings would not have been yours. God sent them; but it was your father’s hand that earned them, and gathered them about your life.

Then, apart from all this, think what your father has been to you as an influence. All through your formative years he was ever before you — a man of truth and righteousness, diligent, punctual in his duty, brave in struggle, firm in his opinions and principles. It is no small thing to have grown up beneath the shadow of such uprightness of character. Perhaps he was stern at times, and even severe and cold, lacking the gentleness which was so beautiful in your mother; yet it was a splendid education which you got from this abiding vision of strength, truth, and justice; and you owe far more to it than you can ever understand.

Only a single glimpse of the distinguishing qualities of true fatherhood has thus been given, but it is enough to help young people to remember that they have a father as well as a mother, and that to him as well as to her they owe love, honor, and grateful treatment. Naturally, less sentiment gathers about a father in his advancing years, than about a mother at like age. But no little child should ever fail of filial duty to a father. The commandment reads, “Honor your father and your mother.”

The ways in which we may show honor to our father are many. We may hold his name dear and sacred. We may surround him with love — he craves gentleness and affectionateness just as much as our mother does. We may seek to be his helper in his work, interesting ourselves in it. Children are responsible for the full success of their father’s life. They may tear down all that he has built — or they may carry on to completion what he has begun, and fill his old age with joy and comfort.

But think it out for yourself — what your father has been to you personally, what you owe to him, and how you may make appropriate returns for what he has done for you and been to you.

Source: Young People’s Problems by J.R. Miller, 1898,