Parenting Quotations

To see your child through the Eyes of Delight is the greatest gift in the world you can give to your child and to yourself.
--John Breeding

All About Children: Selected Quotations Contributed by Leonard Roy Frank

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
JAMES BALDWIN, Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son 3, 1961

It's frightening to think that you mark your children merely by being yourself.
SIMONE de BEAUVOIR Les Belles Images 3, 1966 tr. Patrick O'Brian, 1968

The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom.
HENRY WARD BEECHER "The Family," Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit ed. William Drysdale, 1887

[In April 1950, a "mute and autistic" 341/2-month- old boy was administered 20 ECTs after being referred to the children's ward of New York's Bellevue Hospital. A month later he was discharged.] The discharge note indicated "moderate improvement, since he was eating and sleeping better, was more friendly with the other children, and he was toilet trained."
LAURETTA BENDER "The Development of a Schizophrenic Child Treated with Electric Convulsions at Three Years of Age," in Gerald Caplan, ed. Emotional Problems of Early Childhood 1955

We are now conducting a sort of general warfare against children, who are being abandoned, abused, aborted, drugged, bombed, neglected, poorly raised, poorly fed, poorly taught, and poorly disciplined. Many of them will not only find no worthy work, but no work of any kind. All of them will inherit a diminished, diseased, and poisoned world. We will visit upon them not only our sins but also our debts. We have set before them thousands of examples - governmental, industrial, and recreational - suggesting that the violent way is the best way. And we have the hypocrisy to be surprised and troubled when they carry guns and use them.
WENDELL BERRY "The Obligation of Care," Sierra September-October 1995

Tew bring up a child in the wa he should go - travel that wa yourself.
JOSH BILLINGS His Sayings 78, 1867

I'm starting to wonder what my folks were up to at my age that makes them so doggoned suspicious of me all the time!
MARGARET BLAIR in Leonard Louis Levinson, ed. Bartlett's Unfamiliar Quotations p. 336, 1971

Fathers and mothers have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise - as priests, prophets or philosophers are wise. Specialized competence and success are all that they can imagine.
ALLAN BLOOM "The Clean Slate," The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students, 1987

Dr. [Paula] Menyuk and her co-workers [at Boston University's School of Education] found that parents who supplied babies with a steady stream of information were not necessarily helpful. Rather, early, rich language skills were more likely to develop when parents provided lots of opportunities for their infants and toddlers to "talk" and when parents listened and responded to the babies' communications.
JANE E. BRODY "Talking to the Baby: Some Expert Advice," New York Times 5 May 1987

"Teachers"... treat students neither coercively nor instrumentally but as joint seekers of truth and of mutual actualization. They help students define moral values not by imposing their own moralities on them but by positing situations that pose hard moral choices and then encouraging conflict and debate. They seek to help students rise to higher stages of moral reasoning and hence to higher levels of principled judgment.
JAMES MacGREGOR BURNS Leadership 17, 1978

Ah! happy years! once more who would not be a boy?
LORD BYRON Childe Harold's Pilgrimage 2.23, 1812-1818

A child. . . opens and closes like a blossom.
ELIAS CANETTI, 1978 The Secret Heart of the Clock: Notes, Aphorisms, Fragments: 1973-1985 tr. Joel Agee, 1989

Education should be constructed on two bases: morality and prudence. Morality in order to assist virtue, and prudence in order to defend you against the vices of others. In tipping the scales toward morality, you merely produce dupes and martyrs. In tipping it the other way, you produce egotistical schemers.
CHAMFORT (1741-1794) Maxims and Thoughts 5, 1796 tr. W. S. Merwin, 1984

While you were a child, I endeavored to form your heart habitually to virtue and honor, before your understanding was capable of showing you their beauty and utility.
LORD CHESTERFIELD letter to his son 3 November 1749

Birth is much, but breeding's more.
JOHN CLARKE, ed. Proverbs: English and Latine p. 103, 1639

It [is] very unfair to influence a child's mind by inculcating any opinions before it [has] come to years of discretion to choose for itself.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE (1772-1834) in Tryon Edwards et al., eds. The New Dictionary of Thoughts p. 156, 1891-1955

A youth is to be regarded with respect.
CONFUCIUS (551-479 B.C.) Confucian Analects 9.22 tr. James Legge, 1930

A belief constantly inculcated during the early years of life, while the brain is impressible, appears to acquire almost the nature of an instinct; and the very essence of an instinct is that it is followed independently of reason.
CHARLES DARWIN The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex 2nd ed., 4, 1874

What we found in examining diaries, letters, autobiographies, pediatric and pedagogical literature back to antiquity was that good parenting appears to be something only historically achieved, and that the further one goes back into the past the more likely one would be to find children killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized and sexually abused by adults. Indeed, it soon appeared likely that a good mother, one who was reasonably devoted to her child and more or less able to empathize with and fulfill its needs, was nowhere to be found prior to modern times. It seemed to me that childhood was one long nightmare from which we have only gradually and only recently begun to awaken.
LLOYD deMAUSE "Psychohistory and Psychotherapy," Foundations of Psychohistory 1992

When you arrange parenting modes on a scale of decreasing health, from empathic down to the most destructive child-battering parents, you have also listed historical modes of child care reaching back into the past. It is as though today's child abuser were a sort of "evolutionary arrest," a psychological fossil, stuck in a personality mode from a previous historical epoch when everyone used to batter children.

The certainty with which the effective prohibition of incest has been declared leads one to look for the evidence these authors might have for their assertions. Yet such a search soon proves quite fruitless. . . consider the evidence for the opposite hypothesis: That it is incest itself-and not the absence of incest-that has been universal for most people in most places at most times. Furthermore, the earlier in history one searches, the more evidence there is of universal incest, just as there is more evidence of other forms of child abuse.
LLOYD deMAUSE "Universality of Incest," The Journal of Psychohistory 19, 2, 1991

There is hardly an imaginable form of genital assault that is not regularly performed on children.

Nothing can be more graphic of our hatred of children than an infant mortality rate of American babies in some of our largest cities that is close to that of a Third World country, or than the fact that we tolerate the regular use of poisonous drugs by millions of our teenagers. That we choose to buy aircraft carriers at the price of dead children may not be obvious, but it is true nonetheless.
Lloyd deMause "It's Time to Sacrifice. . . Our Children," The Journal of Psychohistory 18, 2, 1990

When I can no longer bear to think of the victims of broken homes, I begin to think of the victims of intact ones. PETER DE VRIES The Tunnel of Love 8, 1954

Every baby born into the world is a finer one than the last.
CHARLES DICKENS The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby 36, 1839

In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice.
CHARLES DICKENS Great Expectations 9, 1861

Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves.
ERNEST DIMNET The Art of Thinking 2.5, 1928

The values inculcated by status-insecure parents are such that their children learn to put personal success and the acquisition of power above all else. They are taught to judge people for their usefulness rather than their likableness. Their friends, and even future marriage partners, are selected and used in the service of personal advancement; love and affection take second place to knowing the right people. They are taught to eschew weakness and passivity, to respect authority, and to despise those who have not made the socio-economic grade. Success is equated with social esteem and material advantage, rather than with more spiritual values.
NORMAN F. DIXON On the Psychology of Military Incompetence 22, 1976

How is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does it.
ALEXANDER DUMAS (1802-1870) in L. Treich L'Esprit Francais 1947

So long as little children are allowed to suffer, there is no true love in this world.
ISADORA DUNCAN "Memoirs," 1924 This Quarter Autumn 1929

Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don't criticize what you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

BOB DYLAN "The Times They Are A-Changin" (song) 1963

Parents forgive their children least readily for the faults they themselves instilled in them
MARIE von EBNER-ESCHENBACH Aphorisms p. 31, 1880-1905 tr. David Scrase and Wolfgang Mieder, 1994

That was and still is the great disaster of my life - that lovely, lovely little boy. . . . There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (1890-1969) on the death of his first son Doud Dwight ("Icky") at age three in "Ike," television documentary PBS, 15 October 1986

I like my boy with his endless sweet soliloquies and iterations and his utter inability to conceive why I should not leave all my nonsense, business, and writing and come to tie up his toy horse, as if there was or could be any end to nature beyond his horse. And he is wiser than we when [he] threatens his whole threat "I will not love you."
RALPH WALDO EMERSON journal 9 July 1839

It is so easy to give a naughty boy a slap, overpower him in an instant, and make him obey, that in this world of hurry and distraction, who can possibly spend time to wait for the slow return of his reason and the conquest of himself in the uncertainty too whether that will ever come.
Ibid. 9 November 1839

My son, a perfect little boy of five years and three months, had ended his earthly life. You can never sympathize with me; you can never know how much of me such a young child can take away. A few weeks ago I accounted myself a very rich man, and now the poorest of all.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON soon after Waldo's death from scarlet fever letter to Thomas Carlyle 28 February 1842

Children measure their own life by the reaction, and if purring and humming [are] not noticed, they begin to squeal; if that is neglected, to screech; then, if you chide and console them, they find the experiment succeeds, and they begin again. The child will sit in your arms if you do nothing, contented; but if you read, it misses the reaction, and commences hostile operations.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON journal October? 1843

The cardinal virtue of a teacher [is] to protect the pupil from his own influence.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON "Notebook Platoniana," p. 11, 1845-1848

We find a delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON "Illusions," The Conduct of Life 1860

A low selflove in the parent desires that his child should repeat his character and fortune. . . . I suffer whenever I see that common sight of a parent or senior imposing his opinion and way of thinking and being on a young soul to which they are totally unfit. Cannot we let people be themselves, and enjoy life in their own way? You are trying to make another you. One's enough.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON (1803-1882) "Education," Lectures and Biographical Sketches 1883

The secret of Education lies in respecting the pupil. It is not for you to choose what he shall know, what he shall do. It is chosen and foreordained, and he only holds the key to his own secret. . . . Respect the child. Wait and see the new product of Nature. Nature loves analogies, but not repetitions. Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude.

Of course you will insist on modesty in the children, and respect to their teachers, but if the boy stops you in your speech, cries out that you are wrong and sets you right, hug him!

The flowers talk when the wind blows over them.
WALDO EMERSON, at age 4 in Ralph Waldo Emerson, journal 4 June 1840

The report of the Central Commission relates that the manufacturers began to employ children rarely of five years, often of six, very often of seven, usually of eight to nine years; that the working day often lasted fourteen to sixteen hours, exclusive of meals and intervals; that the manufacturers permitted overlookers to flog and maltreat children, and often took an active part in so doing themselves.
FRIEDRICH ENGELS The Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844 1887

[In cases of enuresis, i.e., bedwetting] I apply usually [in the region of the boy's sexual organ] a tolerably strong current for one to two minutes; at the close, a wire electrode is introduced about two centimeters into the urethra - in girls I apply "small" sponge electrode between the labia close to the meatus urethrae - and the faradic current passed for one to two minutes with such a strength that a distinct, somewhat painful sensation is produced.
WILHELM ERB Handbook of Electrotherapy, 1881 in Thomas S. Szasz The Myth of Psychotherapy 6.1, 1978

When I was a boy I was my father.
LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI "Mock Confessional" Open Eye, Open Heart 1973

How children survive being Brought Up amazes me
MALCOLM S. FORBES "Passing Parade, The Sayings of Chairman Malcolm: The Capitalist's Handbook 1978

How true Daddy's words were when he said: "All children must look after their own upbringing." Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.
ANNE FRANK 15 July 1944 Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl tr. B. M. Mooyaart-Doubleday, 1952

Wise parents offer criticism only when asked, and then minimally.

Wise teachers create an environment that encourages students to teach themselves.

Wise teachers impart their knowledge; inept ones impose theirs.

What a difference it makes to come home to a child!.
MARGARET FULLER letter to friends, 1849

At a good Table we may go to School.
THOMAS FULLER, ed. Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs 823, 1732

Of some forty families I have been able to observe, I know hardly four in which the parents do not act in such a way that nothing would be more desirable for the child than to escape their influence.
ANDRÉ GIDE journal, 1921 (detached page) tr. Justin O'Brien, 1948

If children grew up according to early indications, we should have nothing but geniuses.
GOETHE (1749-1832) in Norman Lockridge, ed. World's Wit and Wisdom p. 352, 1936

Unlike grownups, children have little need to deceive themselves.
GOETHE (1749-1832) in W. H. Auden and Louis Kronenberger, eds. The Viking Book of Aphorisms p. 385, 1962

When an order is given to someone under hypnosis that he do something at a certain time after he is brought back to consciousness he will do his best to conform to the order however absurd it might be. If he is prevented from fulfilling the order, he will have stirrings of acute guilt and anxiety. Most parents expect a great deal from their children when they grow up. . . . Suggestions made to children when very young have the same effect as a post-hypnotic suggestion - the child's whole life may be lived with an anxious feeling that he should be doing something other than what he is doing, that he should be a "better" person than he is, should be cleverer, more musical, a better athlete or whatever it might be.
FELIX GREENE The Enemy: What Every American Should Know About Imperialism 4.2, 1970

[The parents of prodigies] convey enthusiasm without conveying expectation. They reward their children more for trying than winning.
EMILY GREENSPAN Little Winners, 1983 in Jan Krakauer, "What Kind of Breakfast Are They Feeding These Young Champions?" Washington Post National Weekly Edition 15 February 1988

Never do for a child what he is capable of doing for himself.
ELIZABETH G. HAINSTOCK Teaching Montessori in the Home 1, 1968

I will hug him, so that not any storm can come to him.
JULIAN HAWTHORNE at 2 years and 8 months, speaking of his infant friend, n Nathaniel Hawthorne 16 March 1849 The American Notebooks ed. Claude M. Simpson, 1932

Nathaniel Hawthorne: Are you a good little boy? Julian: Yes. Nathaniel: [Why] are you good? Julian: Because I love all people.
Ibid. format adopted 6 September 1849

Julian: Mamma, why is not dinner supper? Mamma: Why is not a chair a table? Julian: Because it's a teapot.
Ibid. 4 October 1849

I said to Julian, "Let me take off your bib" - and he taking no notice, I repeated it two or three times, each time louder than before. At last he bellowed - "Let me take off your Head!"
Ibid. 20 February 1850

[Towards the end of a long buggy trip in the country now under a full moon] the little man behaved himself still like an old traveller; but sometimes he looked round at me from the front seat (where he sat between Herman Melville and Evert Duyckinck) and smiled at me with a peculiar expression, and put back his hand to touch me. It was a method of establishing a sympathy in what doubtless appeared to him the wildest and unprecedentedest series of adventures that had ever befallen mortal travellers.
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE referring to his son Julian then 5 years old 8 August 1851 The American Notebooks ed. Claude M. Simpson, 1932

Virtue and a Trade are the best portion for Children.
GEORGE HERBERT (1593-1633) ed. Outlandish Proverbs 107, 1640

Better a snotty child than his nose wip'd off.
Ibid. 828

Babies are such a nice way to start people.
DON HEROLD (1889-1966) in Laurence J. Peter The Peter Prescription 12, 1972

He does not educate children but rejoices in their happiness.
HERMANN HESSE (1877-1962) Reflections 324, ed. Volker Michels, 1974

I remember a lot of talk and a lot of laughter. I must have talked a great deal because Martha used to say again and again, "You remember you said this, you said that...." She remembered everything I said, and all my life I've had the feeling that what I think and what I say are worth remembering. She gave me that.
ERIC HOFFER on Martha Bauer, the woman who raised him after his mother died in Calvin Tompkins, "Profiles: The Creative Situation," New Yorker 7 January 1967

The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without his teacher.
ELBERT HUBBARD A Thousand and One Epigrams p. 107, 1911

Be patient with the boys - you are dealing with soul-stuff.
ELBERT HUBBARD (1856-1915) The Note Book of Elbert Hubbard ed., Elbert Hubbard II p. 78, 1927

Where parents do too much for their children, the children will not do much for themselves
Ibid. p. 193

I have noticed that youngsters given to the climbing habit usually do something when they grow up.
ELBERT HUBBARD (1856-1915) The Philosophy of Elbert Hubbard ed., Elbert Hubbard II p. 72, 1930

When I was a kid, my father told me every day, "You're the most wonderful boy in the world, and you can do anything you want to."
JAN HUTCHINS radio talk-program host, KGO San Francisco 17 May 1988

No day can be so sacred but that the laugh of a little child will make it holier still.
ROBERT G. INGERSOLL "Liberty of Man, Woman and Child," The Lectures of Col. R. G. Ingersoll: Latest 1898

We are the world, We are the children, We are the ones To make a better day.
MICHAEL JACKSON and LIONEL RICHIE "We Are the World" (song), 1985

It is while we are young that the habit of industry is formed. If not then, it never is afterwards. The fortune of our lives, therefore, depends on employing well the short period of youth.
THOMAS JEFFERSON letter to his daughter Martha 28 March 1787

Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.
JESUS Mark 10:14 (Revised Standard Version)

Accustom your children constantly to this; if a thing happened at one window and they, when relating it, say that it happened at another, do not let it pass, but instantly check them; you do not know where deviation from truth will end.
SAMUEL JOHNSON 31 March 1778 in James Boswell The Life of Samuel Johnson 1791

There must always be a struggle between a father and son, while one aims at power and the other at independence.
Ibid. 14 July 1763

Children have more need of models than of critics.
JOSEPH JOUBERT (1754-1824) Pensées, 1838 tr. Henry Attwell, 1877

Nothing exerts a stronger psychic effect upon the environment, and especially upon children, than the [unlived] life [of] the parents.
CARL G. JUNG "Paracelsus," 1929 The Spirit in Man, Art, and Literature tr. R. F. C. Hull, 1966