The child’s conscience
Happy spirits in a grownup proceed from a clear conscience, a sense of self-respect, plus a sense of the approval of the world around him for which he cares, says Elizabeth Towne in the December Nautilus.
A child has no conscience except the approval of its mother and its father. If the mother teaches the child one thing, and the father says another, the child grows a conscience with two branches which conflict with each other, and which eventually tear the child’s heart and the child’s mind until he does not know what is right or wrong, and consequently follows the impulse of the moment, in a kind of reckless devil-may-care spirit. This is the beginning and the method of “going wrong.”
No grownup can have happy spirits while he is living contrary to his conscience; no child can have happy spirits while he is living under the condemnation of either or both parents.
It is absolutely impossible for a child to come up right, in happy spirits — the kind of spirits that make him know the right and choose it and rejoice in it, and grow in wisdom and in knowledge of himself and his world — no child can develop happy spirits in a family jar.
Tho first duty of parents is to find a point of agreement on general policies, and when it comes to tho application of those policies, the parents must back up each other, stand by each other; remembering that the one who has started the particular piece of discipline in question is the one who has the right of way.
The differences between parents must be worked out in private, where no little pitchers can possibly hear; and they must be administered with unanimity as well as equanimity.