Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 69.djvu/344

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34o POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

crowning embellishment and glory of womanhood comes too often as a sur- prise, nor is it always welcomed, and only rarely does it bring unalloyed joy.

There are obviously some faults here which must be local or due to remediable conditions. It is our duty to search out the defects and correct them. This in my judgment is chiefly in negligences in teach- ing mothers their duties. When it is realized that the most valuable influential impressions upon the infantile organism (whereby standards are acquired, moral impulses initiated), are made during the first year of life, it is plain that no omission of maternal care can be otherwise than hurtful. However much the mother may lack of perfect fitness for her sphere, however blameworthy in her attitude toward her trust, still she is a trustee for whom there can be no substitute comparable to herself. The child who has failed to enjoy the tender all-enfolding care and love of a mother, acting up to her best endeavors, is bereft of the greatest gift obtainable. She may leave in her personality, in her conduct, much to be desired. She may be a mass of minor faults, not wise or strong of mind, yet if she be sincerely desirous of fulfilling her instinctive obligations, no other being can replace her.

The difficult boy stands clearly differentiated in my mind from the backward-minded or irresponsible boy, although there are grounds on which they may become merged. The difficult boy, as I conceive him, is one endowed with normal impulses, usually overstrong, which, be- cause of defects of early guidance, have become diffusive, unsymmet- rical, lacking inhibition, one who is commingled of more bad than good, yet often capable of great things under favorable conditions. There are those in whom the ingredients vary in other directions, among the w T orst of which are apathy, laziness, secretiveness, moral shortcomings. These, however, will soon or late become classifiable differently.

The difficult boy may appear to be a liar, a bully, selfish, unwilling to exert himself in worthy directions, of even other and perhaps worse characteristics. All this may be due to pressure of circumstances obtunding a none too vigorous sense of right and wrong, distorting conceptions, inducing acts and speech which belie inherent normal in- stincts which are undeveloped or chronically impaired. In short the seeds of wholesome manhood are present, in fair measure, capable at times of splendid development, often to admirable citizenship, but not strong enough unaided to nullify the blanketing effects of circumstance. How are we to estimate what these counteracting forces are, or were, in the instance? How should we have conducted ourselves under the same baffling influences ? What would have been the effect of the same plainly indicated disheartenments, evil influences, examples on one nature as compared with another? If we examine our own personalities, we can see evidences of effects springing from apparently trivial causes out of

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