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Advice to a Mother on the Management of Her Children

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1. I wish to consult you on many subjects appertaining to the management and the care of children; will you favour me with your advice and counsel?

I shall be happy to accede to your request, and to give you the fruits of my experience in the clearest manner I am able, and in the simplest language I can command—freed from all technicalities. I will endeavour to guide you in the management of the health of your offspring;—I will describe to you the symptoms of the diseases of children;—I will warn you of approaching danger, in order that you may promptly apply for medical assistance before disease has gained too firm a footing;—I will give you the treatment on the moment; of some of their more pressing illnesses—when medical aid cannot at once be procured, and where delay may be death;—I will instruct you, in case of accidents, on the immediate employment of remedies—where procrastination may be dangerous;—I will tell you how a sick child should be nursed, and how a sick-room ought to be managed;—I I will use my best energy to banish injurious practices from the nursery;—I will treat of the means to prevent disease where it be possible;—I will show you the way to preserve the health of the healthy,—and how to strengthen the delicate;—and will strive to make a medical man's task more agreeable to himself,—and more beneficial to his patient,—by dispelling errors and prejudices, and by proving the importance of your strictly adhering to his rules. If I can accomplish any of these objects, I shall be amply repaid by the pleasing satisfaction that I have been of some little service to the rising generation.

2. Then you consider it important that I should be made acquainted with, and be well informed upon, the subjects you have just named?

Certainly! I deem it to be your imperative duty to study the subjects well. The proper management of children is a vital question,—a mother's question,—and the most important that can be brought under the consideration of a parent; and, strange to say, it is one that has been more neglected than any other. How many mothers undertake—the responsible management of children without previous instruction, or without forethought; they undertake it, as though it may be learned either by intuition or by instinct, or by affection. The consequence is, that frequently they are in a sea of trouble and uncertainty, tossing about without either rule or compass; until, too often, their hopes and treasures are shipwrecked and lost.

The care and management, and consequently the health and future well-doing of the child, principally devolve upon the mother, "for it is the mother after all that has most to do with the making or marring of the man." [Footnote: Good Words, Dr W. Lindsay Alexander, March 1861.] Dr Guthrie justly remarks that—"Moses might have never been the man he was unless he had been nursed by his own mother. How many celebrated men have owed their greatness and their goodness to a mother's training!" Napoleon owed much to his mother....