By Mrs. Kath. Evans.
Mrs. Kath Evans, a Sydney housewife and mother of eight, is an
inspiration to many already. We now present her thoughts to help you
A.C.T.S. No 1522 (1968)
OF THE JOYS
Much to my joy I am the mother of a large family. If you haven't
experienced a big family you couldn't begin to imagine the happiness
that many children can bring.
There's always fun and laughter and the opportunity for serious
discussion which is very stimulating. Then you have the endless
"Mum, can you give me a few points for my debate on Friday night?"
"Mum, how do you draw an eagle".
"What will I wear to the party?" or as a last straw,
"Mum, how do you spit polish cadet army boots?".
And the mad rush in the morning. -
"Where's my school case" as the teenager races down the hall to
school and the two year old has hidden it in the shower recess -
"Mum, the baby's eating toothpaste"
- "I can't find my other shoe."
"We have to take 50 cents for a new book".
"A button just came off my blouse".
and just as 5 and 6 year old are going out the door 5 says.
"I don't want to go to school today" ,
and 6 says "come on I'll carry your case".
8.30 all is calm - a cup of coffee and a quick look at the paper
while the washing machine chugs on. Then the many chores throughout the
morning before preparing for the after school onslaught. In this
affluent society in which we live, parents find it difficult to say
"no" to their children's many requests, but, when there are a number of
children and many requests to be considered there is much less
likelihood of indulging the individual child and many more
opportunities for the children to learn to share their possessions and
to take their turn.
There is no loneliness either when you are surrounded by so many
stages of young life, all going on simultaneously, all individually,
yet all with the family to rely on.
Of course, in bringing up a big family every day is not one of
undiluted joy. There will always be a grey Monday or black Friday and
you have to be constantly alert to the needs of each child, with his
own particular personality. But on these days it only needs a grubby
face to come round the corner presenting a battered looking piece of
liquorice with the words 'I found a recyclable bottle, Mum, and I
bought you something and I've got a piece for Dad too" to realize how grateful we should be to God for bringing us so many joys as
the mother of a large family.
OF THE WORRIES
It would be quite unrealistic to say that all is joy and that
there is never any sadness or even a minor disturbance. We are constantly aware of the differences
of personality and temperament that are to be found among our children
and the clashes that occur because of these.
There will be the conscientious, studious child who tends to
become too intense, and the one who is so lazy that she has to be
continually urged on. We have the extrovert and the introvert. There is
the problem of the shy child, the aggressive child, or the
over-sensitive child - all of whose personality difficulties have to be
watched over so that, as the years go by, we can see all our children
developing as sound and solid Christians, full of the love of God and
ready to face whatever responsibilities life may bring.
One of the major worries of bringing up a family is the ever
present one of "making ends meet." Children's needs and demands are
tremendous and it calls for constant sacrifice on the part of parents
to be able to supply what is necessary. We have the passing worries,
wet weather, mountains of washing and ironing, wearinesses and
disturbed nights, the rebellious teenager.
Then there is the worry of the sick child in the family. Perhaps,
more than we are aware, this is a cross many parents have to accept,
and they do this with courage and devotion. The disability has to be
recognized in the family but not constantly referred to. Other aspects of their personality
must be brought forward so that the child may feel as much one of the
family as his more robust brothers and sisters.
We all know cases where the physical disabilities have receded
into the background as the child grows because of the mother's
positive, confident approach which stems from her love. If this love is
then given by the whole family the response, in almost all cases, is so
rewarding, because love gives the strength and courage that is needed.
All of this is part of the responsibility that God gives us when
He sends us children and we can be sure that He will also send us the
help we need when we ask Him for it.
"Grandpa, please may I go to the shop with you" - So often today
we hear children addressing their parents with an off-hand "Yes" or
"No" instead of "Yes Mum" or "No Mum". This may seem to be only a very
small thing but it is important in training them to have a respect for
From a very early age we must teach our children to have this
respect. If they see their parents exercising their authority with
justice and know that it is inspired by love then respect will follow.
When children speak or behave disrespectfully to others they should be
corrected. Normally, good behaviour is taken for granted but there will
be some times when a word of praise does not go astray.
Second only to the home in importance is the school. When we send
our children to school we automatically give the teacher authority over
them. Children readily accept this if we support the teacher. How
disappointing it is to hear parents criticizing (even in front of the
child) those who, after all, are only carrying out the role that we
have assigned to them. These parents are letting their children down if
they would only realize it, and setting up a conflict of ideas in their minds.
It's only natural for a child to occasionally bring home a story
of an injustice done to him, whether real or just a misunderstanding.
This is indeed a test for a mother, who naturally feels for her child,
but, who realizes the loyalty she also owes to the teacher whom she has
accepted as her counterpart. Very serious consideration must be given
to the facts before the teacher is approached. Throughout life our
children are going to have to deal with many different personalities
and, even if on occasions, some decisions of the teacher may seem to be
not wholly justified, it is a great opportunity for the children to
learn to cope with apparent injustices.
If we try to teach our children respect for all those around
them, - relatives, neighbours and their property, tradesmen who call,
shop assistants, and particularly their teachers and the police, we
will be confident they will grow into responsible, law-abiding citizens.
A father who had plenty of money once asked his little boy what
he would like for his birthday and the little boy said "To spend a
whole day with you Dad."
If fathers would only realize how much they mean to their
children, and, the importance children put on their opinions, I'm sure
they would give them a much better hearing and not be so quick to tell
them to "Pop outside" or "not now - I'm reading the paper." They would
make much more of an effort to be with them - encouraging them in their
work and sport even by their presence.
Have you ever been to a school sports day or concert and seen the
expression change on your child's face when he manages to see his
father in the crowd. His face seems to light up - his Dad's here. We
all know that children make heroes of their fathers. How often do you
hear them boasting that "My father can do anything" - And this is a
Most fathers these days, are working under much more demanding
conditions than in days gone by and some
tend to leave a lot of the bringing up the children to Mum. This is a
great pity because children definitely need guidance, companionship and
interest from their fathers as well as discipline. They respond
wonderfully to the attention given them by Dad, and, hear his voice
much more readily than they do Mum's, who can sometimes become like the
voice on the radio, always in the background, always droning on, but
never really making much impact.
The children must constantly be made aware of Dad, to be
approached for advice and guidance, and we mothers, must try not to
answer queries, before Dad even registers the question. Sometimes it
takes quite a while for Dad to readjust when he gets home in the
evening, from stresses and strains of work, to the different but
endless chatter and clatter of a family in action.
We mothers, of necessity, must take a more active role in the
rearing of our children, but, a family relationship tends to become
lop-sided when mother takes over entirely. Its up to us to encourage
the children to go to Dad and
talk to him about their
interests. Later, as the children grow older, if this confidence in Dad
has been established, they will readily turn to him with their problems. Where Dad is playing his
God-given role as head of the family, the whole family is united around
him, giving him the warmth of being wanted and needed.
It is so pleasing to hear a mother of teenagers say how much she
is enjoying her time with them, this time that so many people refer to
as "the difficult years."
It's so refreshing to have all this carefree enthusiasm bubbling
round me. The mad interests that change from day to day, of pop tunes,
singing groups, hair-styles. Something that always amazes me, at the
end of a season, on the Saturday afternoon, they play a beaut game of
football, Sunday morning everyone is looking for cricket bats, stumps
and balls. I, in my innocence ask "why not kick the football around?"
Looks of amazement, but this is the cricket season! The game in season
is the only game to play! They love variety and change, yet their
tastes and interests are forming in these years.
We mothers know that these Teen years can be most rewarding, for
this is the time when we see the efforts of our training realized. We
see characters developing, ideas and opinions being expressed. These
are the years, too, when our children can become our companions. If we
have listened to them when they were little, talked to them and guided
them in their decisions - now they will still have confidence in us. We
must always be ready, even though they pick a terribly awkward time,
(and don't they usually) to listen to all they would like to talk
about. So many parents lose contact with their children during these
years and it is very hard to regain it.
Despite an apparent confidence and brashness, underneath they can
feel quite unsure of themselves, and it's a great help if their
experiences and mistakes are weathered in the protection of their own
home with brothers and sisters who love and understand them. Because of
group pressures exerted on the individual to conform, the importance of
the home is paramount and cannot be underestimated.
We can encourage them to develop a critical approach to films,
books and all their activities so that they will become discerning and
not just follow the crowd. Above all, we must give them the courage to
stand up for what they know to be right and not worry about the opinion
of those companions who have little principle. This can be achieved
with God's help and through our love for them.
Mothers of little children are sometimes puzzled about the way to
tell their "littlies" some of the wonderful things God has done for us
because He loves us. Little children respond wonderfully to love and
readily find so many things to thank God for in the world around us
There is no need to teach little children formal prayers if we can
awaken in them a spontaneous response, and prayer has been defined,
simply and beautifully as talking to God with love.
If we begin by talking about God's gifts:
"God made the sun.
"God made the water.
"God made the cow which gives us milk.
"God made mummy and daddy.
It then leads to the children's thinking about Him, the Giver.
Prayer in the true sense is then attained when the little one
talks to Him.
Thank you God, for the warm sun.
Thank you God, for the water we splash and play in.
Thank you God for my mummy and daddy who love me very much.
We are endeavouring to stimulate the little one to speak to God
from his heart and to realize God's love for him.
In this way he will then see that God is so good to him and to
everyone because God is always good. Then, it must follow, God, who is
always good wants me to be good like Him. So the child's conscience is
beginning to develop and he is living for God and trying to do His will.
Every good and natural object of a child's love and endeavours
can be an object of his prayer. By encouraging a child to talk to God
in this way we can then progress to bringing to his mind other people's
needs so that he develops understanding and sympathy for them.
We can then suggest that he asks God's help for "people who are
sick in hospital," "children who are always -hungry," "the lady down
the street, who has broken her leg." It is easy for children to talk to
someone they know and if we talk about God "Wasn't God good to give us
such a lovely day for our picnic", they will came to know Him and in
this way love Him - and this is prayer.
DOESN'T JUST HAPPEN
Belonging to a family implies being loved, being wanted and being
sure that, no matter what the future may bring, this love and bond will
always be there.
It goes without saying that a family will only be a happy one if
everyone pulls together and works toward that end. It doesn't just
happen. There must be respect for each other as individuals, each with
his own personality, which must be recognized and accepted.
Each child should be allowed to develop his own interests and
these should be encouraged by parents and brothers and sisters alike.
How often do we hear the pleading request "please come and see the
beaut cubby we've just built", "the lovely picture I've drawn", or even
"all the leaves the silkworms are eating." Their many activities can be
a constant source of interest and pleasure to all in the family who
participate in them.
The interests and pastimes which are begun in the junior years
and encouraged by the family can bear much fruit later in life and so
be a source of pleasure and fulfilment for the years to come. How many
times have we heard a man or woman particularly proficient or
interested in some branch of the arts, or skilful with their hands, say
"I was always encouraged by my mother" or "my dad started me on this."
The responsibility of moulding the family falls very much on
mothers, as we're with our children for longer periods than their
fathers are, and they do learn so much from us.
We should always be on the alert for any friction that may arise
between our children. Of course, there'll always be some squabbles,
but, as long as these blow over as quickly as they occur and nobody
sulks or bears any malice, no damage will be done.
We should be aware of any anger, jealousy or envy one of another.
These feelings are only natural at times, but the danger lies in
allowing our children, and ourselves too, to give in to them. It is
important to correct and discourage this behaviour and try to point out
how undesirable it is. If we allow it to continue without being
checked, the child's character will be damaged and possibly affect
those with whom he comes in contact.
We can constantly bring to our children's notice how fortunate
they are to have one another and though we want and encourage them to
have friends, still, no one can ever take the place of their brother or
RESPECT FOR ONE ANOTHER
We may all teach our children to be well-mannered but, how many
of us, by our example as well as our teaching, go that little bit
further and show courtesy to all with whom we come in contact. The
dictionary defines courtesy as politeness, kindness and consideration,
- respect for one another. Perhaps this is rather an old-fashioned
virtue in today's world of rush and push, but doesn't this make it all
the more appreciated when some one shows us some sign of courtesy, or,
when we are courteous to those around us.
Children's behaviour patterns are formed from the way we act, so,
we must make sure that politeness and consideration are shown to
everyone, and not always be ready to jump the queue in the supermarket,
descend on that last seat in the bus as if it were our right, be late
for appointments even though we are always in a rush.
Life goes at a terrific pace and mothers always have so much to
do but the kind word or smile costs nothing and yet it can mean so
much. Only the other day my youngest little boy, out in the stroller,
smiled and said "Hello" to a sad looking old lady and that word changed
the whole expression of her face. Her eyes lit up and her day was made.
Even a smile can be a wonderful lift to a person, particularly when it
Toddlers themselves need to be shown courtesy and consideration
because by our example they will naturally respond as they get older -
perhaps one of the earliest examples of their response could be the
"littlie" handing up the clothes and pegs as we hang the washing.
Courtesy between brothers and sisters should always be encouraged and
the opportunity never missed to praise a courteous act.
Something that's surely worrying all of us is the road toll, and,
it's a fact that just can't be overlooked that these children of ours
are the car drivers of the future. If we can develop in them
thoughtfulness for others instead of always claiming their rights, we
are helping and not hindering in the mammoth task of reducing the
accidents on our roads, because of lack of consideration for the other
A courteous manner is a habit we must all try to develop and if
we, in our day to day contact with others, can have left a feeling of
warmth in them by their contact with us, we surely have done something
SENSE OF VALUES
When you walk into a home where love abounds you can't help but
experience a warm, comfortable feeling of contentment.
Children are going to remember all their lives a happy mother who
has time to play with them and not always "too busy". One who is not
always at them unnecessarily for tidiness, envelope corners on their
beds, a few extra drops of water on the bathroom floor, but they won't
remember, in years to come, whether their house sometimes had a bit of
dust around the mats, curtains that could have done with a wash last
month, of floors that weren't quite as shiny as their friends down the
As each new baby arrives, mothers find that they must decide more
and more which are the essentials in the home and which things can be
left undone without affecting anybody greatly. I found, when completely
snowed under by about a dozen jobs that needed doing (this was when I
had seven children and the eldest nine) if I just stood for a second
and thought "first things first" then everything became less formidable
and I could tackle the most important job of the moment. I think (well
it worked with me) if we can apply this "first things first" we can
develop a very good sense of values and sift out the important from the
unimportant or superfluous.
The most demanding and strenuous time in a mother's life is when
she has a number of little children and no outside help, but, if the
biggest ones can be encouraged to do even small jobs (that's if she can
put up with the muddle the first few times) she will find that they
develop a wonderful sense of responsibility towards their younger
brothers and sisters, and the love that grows between them stems from
the ability to do something for somebody else. They will have a much
greater opportunity of becoming healthy, well adjusted adults by being
able to cope with varying personalities in the love and shelter of
their own home.
A friend has a retarded child and I would like to tell you some
of her thoughts which, I think, are really beautiful.
She said - "When Our Lord talked about taking up His cross daily
He was giving expert spiritual and psychological advice - suited in a
particular way to families among whose members there is a retarded
"The first step to working out how to deal with a problem and how
to profit by the cross which you know will be there each day as long as
the child lives, and what you do, is to accept the fact that this is a
retarded child and this is a cross."
"The diamond of truth has many facets, each displaying a new
beauty, each lighting up the dark road ahead - and the truth is - that
this is not just a problem - this is a child who could come to any family,
but whom God in His wisdom has sent to yours. This child works with
impaired reasoning but the struggles and tantrums which can be so
distressing are really a reminder that the soul, in its entirety is
present, trying to exercise its great powers."
"Rightly used, this cross will bring gifts to all - the
individual, the family and society. It demands that we give tolerance
and opportunities for full and suitable development for the afflicted
one. It demands that we give our very selves in the service of this
person who, because of his impaired reasoning powers will never deface
God's image from his soul. This thought alone could be the help that is
needed by so many."
"For the family the opportunity of self-denial is given in
abundance - self-discipline grows, true love is fostered, love which
forces one to place the good of the loved one - in this case the search
for independence - above one's natural pity. It can be a real
Crucifixion - but like Our Lord's it opens the gate to a wider and
fuller life for those for whom it is offered."
We read about the packs who hunt and injure people, the car
thieves and joy-riders, but little is published about the many
wonderful young people around us today, who give much of their spare
time to helping those less fortunate than themselves, collecting for
charities, working in youth groups, such as scouts or guides, as
voluntary aids in hospitals and orphanages and tirelessly supporting
their school fetes and functions.
The majority of teenagers don't get enough praise, for the
enthusiastic way they are applying themselves to study, and to the very
difficult job of growing up into an adult world, where the majority of
adults themselves, are awed and confused by our modern rate of
progress. We are always urging them on, expecting more from them than
was expected of us in our growing years. We didn't have the constant
pressure that is forced on them today and yet they are co-operating
with the adults, endeavouring, in most cases, to make something worth
while of their lives. Most teenagers have boundless energy and if they
can be encouraged to use their own initiative (without being too way
out) and keep themselves occupied in their leisure time, particularly
school holidays, with sports, hobbies and handicrafts, they'll have
little time to get into mischief.
We are all aware of the lawless teenager in our society and the
fact that so many young people are so good is all to their credit.
Some standards of thought and behaviour which are given much
publicity are completely unacceptable to us as Christian parents, yet,
their impact, particularly on the immature can be devastating. If our
children are being subjected, over a long period, to these undesirable
influences, it must have some adverse effect on their characters.
Our own task as mothers is made much more difficult - for example
- haven't we all, at some time, been confronted, even in our own home,
with a T.V. programme which we find objectionable. It is here that we
must be prepared to turn the programme off and tell the children why.
We cannot expect to shield them completely, but, if we do our job as
parents, we can enable them to meet these influences and evaluate them
With God's help and our love and guidance we can see them grow to
be most useful citizens and worthwhile parents.
But today, we are going to talk about something far greater than
donations or gifts - it is the giving of oneself.
Mothers are giving of themselves continuously for their children
and so may feel that there is nothing of themselves left to give to
others. This is a great pity for, haven't we often experienced pleasure
at even the smallest kindness done to us.
In our community there are so many activities that need our help
and co-operation and it only needs the will to help somebody else and
the unselfish offering of our time (be it only a couple of hours a
month, and who of us is too busy to give a couple of hours a month).
A social worker once said to me that she is always amazed at the
reluctance of people to tie themselves down to a set time - and at the
number of excuses that are given. This is probably only a minor reason
in most cases and the majority of people feel they are inadequate and
lack confidence in themselves. However, anything worth doing requires
effort, and experience teaches that if we don't give of ourselves we
are going to be left to ourselves.
Helpers are always needed in the school today. The school library
is playing a much more important part in educating our children and
many schools are grateful for the help untrained staff can give in
mending books or in supervising their distribution. With the growth of
social work in our own municipality there is a multitude of tasks that
can be undertaken.
"Meals on wheels" is a very good way to help and possibly we are
not all aware that, as well as drivers, people are needed to go along
as crew. They help serve the meals to those who would otherwise have no
means of getting a hot dinner. If we have a car, driving a sick person
to the doctor or outpatients department is always a way to help.
There are many aged and lonely people in our own suburbs and the
social worker from the council can put us in touch with them to take
them for a drive or to gatherings at the Senior Citizens Centre. A time
spent reading to them or even just talking can be a help and not take
up a great deal of our time. By this giving of ourselves we will surely
have a feeling of satisfaction even though this is not our motive. For
mothers who are always busy with the cares of the family helping others
outside the home is a wonderful form of therapy. So why not give it a
GIFT OF SPEECH
The tiny child groping for words never fails to delight us: we
all derive pleasure from the stories of our children and their funny
sayings. How quickly real speech arrives, bringing proper communication
between the child and the world.
Maybe it's not until the baby uses a word he shouldn't that we
realize our responsibility in this matter. We all want the best for our
child so we try to avoid ugly phrases and words and relate things he
knows to things he doesn't, in order that he may learn more quickly and
understand more fully:
When it seems he'll never stop talking, it's good for us to
remember the tremendous joy and the stimulus he's getting from
constantly using his wonderful discovery. I'll never forget the time
when one of my chatter-boxes found she could even talk underwater.
Speech has to match many occasions in life. Why, sometimes the
future of the world balances on a few words, and men of vision plead
with their voices for the leaders to speak together, in order to avoid more
In a smaller way, many problems can be solved if people meet and
talk to one another, instead of brooding over an insult (or imagined
insult) or injury. A sulky silence can be even more cutting than a
ding-dong row. If we find we use this weapon we should realize how ugly
it is - have we ever really considered the fact that it leaves our
antagonist no defence and closes the path to renewed friendship.
The young ones should be encouraged to speak frankly of their
interest and problems, and when they do, we parents must be prepared to
give the time to listen to them. Quite often they need our guidance at
a time that we feel is most inappropriate, but if we let the
opportunity slip we may never get the chance again. So, don't you all
agree, that if we are there and ready to listen, when they want to talk
to us, we will cultivate a deep understanding of our children.
We parents will be doing well, if we can show the young how to
respect their gift of speech and use it far its highest purpose, to
unite, to delight and to praise God.
When we think of a family we think of a group of people, united
under the common bond of love - and - who find happiness and
contentment from just being with each other, This is an ideal towards
which we must all strive.
When young couples marry they share many common interests and
this is good; but as the children begin to arrive it requires more of
an effort to keep up these combined pastimes. Unfortunately, we don't
always organize ourselves to make this effort, but it's really
rewarding to enjoy things together, because, if we are together only
when we are working, we don't see the complete person.
When we foster this companionship in the beginning of married
life, as each baby arrives, there will be that mutual interest and
consideration between husband and wife to pull together. And don't we
appreciate it when we are completely snowed under after a week of wet
weather, or when we are not feeling really well and Dad lends a helping
hand in the kitchen or laundry.
When the children are growing, we must encourage them, by
planning activities such as bush picnics, days at the beach and many
other outings to give a little of themselves towards making everyone's
day a happy one. Even if everyone doesn't participate in every
activity, they could lend a helping hand with the preparations, show
interest in their big sister's school dance or new dress, brothers'
football matches, or the littlies birthday parties. In this way, if
they have learned to give a little of themselves, a united family will
usually result, because of unselfish consideration for their brothers
When the time comes, and they develop strong friendships outside
the family circle, we will have prepared them well. By enjoying each
other's company in the home they make better companions for their
friends, and they have more to give, because they have developed a more
outgoing personality. A wise mother will then encourage her children to
bring their friends home. Even if we haven't a great deal in the way of
worldly goods it's so much more lasting if we have companionship and
friendliness, one towards another
CHILDREN TO HELP
Recently, when speaking to a mother of a fairly large family, I
was amazed to find how many small tasks she did for her children which
they could quite capably do for themselves. I then realized how often
we hear the plaintive cry of many mothers "He won't do a thing around
the house' or "She's so untidy and there's always a row if I ask her
This is a great pity, and if this is the case in our homes we
have only ourselves to blame. For a home to be a happy one all members
must pull their weight. "Do your children help you?"
A child from his very junior years will delight in fetching and
carrying. He will respond immediately to a few words of praise and it
will not be long before he has learnt to put his toys back into their
box. There are so many jobs even the pre-school child can do - bringing
in the mail, putting out the milk bottles and bread bin, setting the
These are very minor tasks but they can be the beginning of
teaching a child a sense of responsibility towards his home. They are
his jobs and he should do them. As the child develops, so he can do a
wider variety of work about the house. There are always beds to be
made, washing-up to be done and even a little girl can wield a duster.
For the boys, as well as taking a turn at washing up, there will always
be some gardening that can be tackled, a garbage can to be taken to the
street, or shoes to be cleaned.
Many mothers seem to think that children who have reached senior
school years, or who are at Tech. or University, and have to put in
long hours at study, should be exempt from helping in the home. This
attitude is wrong, for, whilst we realize that their studies are
important and we will do all we can to assist them, they cannot expect
to be passengers in the home, they must pull their weight. They can
often lend a helping hand with a younger brother's or sister's
homework, do some ironing and be able, if the situation arises, to cook
and serve a meal. Girls particularly, in these years should take charge
of their own clothing and the boys too could iron a shirt.
Anything that our children have learnt in their own homes will
stay with them through life, and sharing in the responsibility of the
smooth running of their home will help to make them better husbands and
wives in the future.
There are many vocations in life for the woman of today but I
believe that marriage is the most exciting career that a woman may
choose. It is for the woman to provide stability in marriage, to make
the home a haven of peace, an oasis in a troubled world, a centre of
Woman accepts in marriage a challenge to merge her own interests
with those of her husband, supporting him in decisions, helping to
bring to the surface of both partners virtues which have been stifled
or undeveloped. She strives to provide a solid foundation for the daily
mutual attack on problems that may arise - to give mutual support in
financial difficulties - to seek after knowledge and use it in the many
callings of a wife. (We write Home Duties on the Census Sheet but do we
ever stop to think how many accomplishments this term covers - nurse,
psychologist, cook, economist, cleaner and advisor.)
The wife has to face with courage, as the family grows, the fact
of the ever shrinking purse. With one person's earnings, she must
contain her own desires for personal adornment, discipline her own
The husband needs to be able to feel within himself that he is a
person of worth. He needs all the support and understanding his wife is
able to give him. There are very many occasions where a man's success
can be attributed to the help of a devoted wife. She can lift him when
he is depressed, boost his morale, and every where possible encourage
him. He can so often be frustrated and even humiliated at work, but
when he comes home, if a wife, with love and kindness, can restore his
self confidence and enable him to face the next day she has really
proved herself in her vocation. Together they can develop loyalty,
making allowances at all times for the frailty of human nature. This is
a call to much self-sacrifice, but who can remember words we heard on
the day we were married - "Sacrifice is often difficult and irksome,
love can make it easy and perfect love can make it a joy ".
- AN ACT OF LOVE
The other day a parent said "He never strikes his child except in
self-defence". Let's not get to that stage with our children.
Firstly, discipline should be an act of love. It should seek the
good of the child or sometimes the good of the family. No mother would
hesitate to reprimand a small child playing with lighted matches. Even
though it's unpleasant, the discipline is really an act of love -
thinking, willing and doing for the good of the child.
The origin of the word discipline is from disciple - a learner -
and childhood is a time for learning - the learning of virtue. When a
child becomes mature he no longer needs parents' discipline because, we
hope, he has learned self-discipline. Growing children, especially
teenagers, should be told the connection between the deed and the
punishment if it isn't obvious, and, punishment for all ages is better
given immediately - but never out of anger. Eighty percent of the time,
mother will have to do the punishing because she is on the scene, and
it's only rarely, and in important matters, that she should invoke the
phrase "Wait until your father comes home."
To be consistent, parents should discuss their children's
behaviour frequently and agree on the method and the measure of
discipline, long before it is ever needed.
In complex situations the child ought to have a chance to defend
himself, to present extenuating circumstances, to give his side of the
story. he should also be given time to report on himself, and always be
encouraged to own up. Possibly one of the first big hurdles a child
will have to cross in life will be to tell the truth and take the
punishment. When this occurs, we should take the first available
opportunity to praise him for his courage, (I'm sure we all know how
hard it is).
There are many methods of discipline. The most common are a show
of disapproval, suspension of rewards or privileges, and corporal
punishment. But the most successful discipline is based on a truly
happy home. When a parent's ordinary mood is loving, the child feels
deeply deprived when he incurs disapproval. Parents who are unable to
create an atmosphere of enjoyment, fun and humour with their children
soon find that a child can't be successfully disciplined without the
strictest measures. In order to make a child behave one has to create a
difference in atmosphere between one's mood of approval and
disapproval. Children need discipline because it gives them guides to
act upon, they look for it, want it and are lost without it.
We never really appreciate what our parents have done for us
until we are doing the same for our own children. Then it can come to
us with quite a shock the sacrifices they have made for us and we
immediately feel a strong sense of gratitude. What a pity we couldn't
have shown this years ago - but unfortunately most of us are not built
Gratitude is not a virtue that comes easily. Basically we are all
selfish and so it's easy for us to accept all that is done for us
without ever a thought of anyone else. We must make a conscious effort
to be aware of what others do for us. This is especially true in
marriage when we can tend to take each other for granted.
We should endeavour to make our children aware of what they owe
to others, in particular what they owe to their father. It may not, for
them, always be immediately obvious, and it's up to us to draw their
attention to this, so that they will realize all he is doing to provide
for them. Then there are many occasions each day when brothers and
sisters can show some little sign of gratitude to each other for a
The same is true of their teachers. Children can often develop a
habit of always criticizing them or taking them for granted. A word
from us can help our children realize that they are working for their
welfare and that they should feel grateful for this.
We all have so much in this life for which to be thankful - our
health - our families and friends - the opportunities we have been
given - and it's here that we should remember to thank God for His help
during the day, and it's here too that we have the chance to train our
children in this way. When something pleasant has happened and they are
bubbling over with the news we can use this as an occasion for saying -
"Did you remember to thank God". This is a habit that can grow with all
of us, and one which we can carry through life, remembering that
counting our blessings and being grateful for them is a wise philosophy.
THE FAMILY WITH A DISABLED CHILD
There are many ways we could help the family with a handicapped
Firstly, we must learn about these unfortunate handicaps,
especially about mental conditions. The excellent magazine articles are
helpful and the T.V. programmes can make us realize how much help is
really needed. We need courage to face the fact that handicapped
children can occur in any family.
Perhaps, now, at least some of us could use the knowledge we have
and do something about it. We may think "I don't really know that
woman; she may resent it if I speak to her" - but usually, that's not
Given the chance, most people are only too happy to unburden
themselves a little, and there are few mothers in the world who do not
like to talk about their children. There are still some parents who are
so bitter about a child's disability. They find it so hard to accept
that they withdraw from all social contacts unless the kindness and
support of their neighbours prevent it.
So, when we see a handicapped person, we could say to his mother,
or whoever is looking after him, something like "He looks a real trier"
or "You do make your daughter look pretty" - or even the time honoured
"Does your little bay go to school yet:?" Now the mother feels she is
not being overlooked, that there is somebody willing to share her
burden, somebody who does not pretend the child has no handicap but who
accepts him, first as a person, then as a person with a handicap.
Some people may manage to look after a disabled child and give
mother a little time off. The helper will be surprised at the
comparative ease of minding a child for a little while, and the
mother's relaxed face will more than recompense for the time and effort
that her kindly neighbour spent.
Suppose we don't know anybody in this position! There are many
ways of helping - we can find out the name of a nearby auxiliary, save
up and go to a function now and then.
Our imagination will suggest other ways to help the "special children"
and the families to whom God gave them. If we can't do a lot, many of
us can do a little.
If each of us is just a little kinder, a trifle more
understanding to the people we meet each day, we are building our share
of a better world for all the human family.
If we talked to our little ones about God, they will then come to
know Him and love Him. This also applies to us as adults. If we are to
have an awareness of God, we also must talk to Him..
There are so many things during our day that we can talk to God
about, aren't there? There may be someone who is sick or dying who
needs our prayers, one of our children may be in trouble at school or
work, even just unhappy with a classmate or workmate who is being
We may have financial worries, or a husband who is thinking of
changing his job and needs guidance to make the right decision; - a
member of the family may be particularly difficult to get along with
and we feel our patience is wearing a bit thin. - We could ask God to
give us strength to carry out a task that we know is going to be
unpleasant. It may be even an operation that has to be faced. - God is
our helper and if we can only remember; - Call on Him, we will find the
things that were troubling us will become less irksome and we will be
more able to face the worries that come to all of us at some time
during our life.
God is present always to share our joy, as well as our sorrow,
our happiest moments as well as our saddest, and if we can look around
us and be thankful for all He has given us we will grow closer to Him
and learn to accept life patiently under His will.
When we talk to God it is not necessary to drop everything and
kneel down - we can talk to Him at any time- when we are stirring the
custard or doing the ironing. Prayer is talking to God with love and
the only way to come to love a person is to know Him. The easiest way
to get to know anyone is to talk to Him so it must follow that if we
talk to God we will come to love Him.
It is not sufficient to pray only when we are in a church, so, if
we have been forgetting to ask God for help in our daily needs let us
begin now and always remember that nothing is too unimportant to pray
about, we are never really alone, God is always there with us and we
can always turn and talk to Him, knowing He is the perfect listener.
So, if anything goes wrong, don't get annoyed, talk to Him about it.
YOU A GOOD MOTHER?
The vocation of motherhood is such an all embracing one and it
needs to be worked at all the time. There is just never a slack minute
for us mothers if we are going to do our jobs properly.
The first quality we think of when talking of motherhood is being
loving and sympathetic to our children. We may say of course I love my
children and so we do, but this has to be shown in a real and positive
way - not just by having freshly laundered clothes ready for them to
put on, and wholesome meals prepared for them, although these things
are important, but by being very much aware of their needs, - their
needs for our physical presence, their needs to be able to talk to us
about everything knowing we will be there to listen to them.
Being a mother is not easy - we all make mistakes - perhaps we
are too hasty in our judgements of our growing sons and daughters - we
are impatient of their crazes - we are intolerant of their friends'
constant 'phone calls or visits because we don't want our routine
disturbed. It may be a good thing to sometimes take stock of ourselves
for at times we can become a bit dictatorial as we do have a large say
in the running of our own homes, and we can, over the years develop the
habit of being too demanding of the different members of our family.
This isn't to say we shouldn't expect co-operation from. our
children. We've all along been trying to instil habits of obedience in
them and we've a perfect right to expect them to carry out their
allotted tasks. I think a mother is being foolish if she does the job
her child has neglected to do. We often feel like doing this to save
arguments, but our children are never going to learn to become
responsible if they don't start accepting responsibility in their own
A good mother doesn't smother her child with her attention. She
accepts the fact of his growing up and of his need to develop interests
of his own, even though these may be quite foreign to her. Possessive
mothers don't help anyone. The good mother will teach her children how
to organize their time - how to put work before pleasure, starting in
their junior years when homework must be done before time is given over
to play. Likewise, she will teach them how to handle money. Especially
as they grow older they must be taught to save for things and not
expect Mum to supply their every want.
To be the perfect mother is not possible, like the mountain
climber most of us may never reach the top, but at least we can say
that we died climbing.
What professional help is available for those of us who may have
children who are showing signs of some disturbance, either physical or
If you have a child who comes into either of these categories the
first step towards righting the situation is to recognize that he has a
problem, but, that you do not have to handle it alone, for now with the
growth of social services in our community, there is a way open for us
to seek advice and help.
Many children are slow to speak or show marked speech defects
which often have emotional overtones. The way is now open for parents
to seek the aid of a qualified speech therapist at the large children's
hospitals in our cities. She will in many cases be able to cure the
child's defect and if counselling is necessary for the parents, be able
to put them in touch with the appropriate agency.
For asthmatic children too, there is the opportunity for them to
attend physiotherapy sessions at the leading public hospitals, while
the Asthma Welfare Association conducts swimming classes in pools in
many parts of the metropolitan area. You will all know of the School
Medical and Dental Service which is available to all school children.
In addition to dealing with straight out physical ailments the School
Medical Service now has established Child Guidance Centres all over the
Metropolitan area. These are staffed by trained psychiatrists,
psychologists and social workers, and are free to all who need them and
may be contacted through the Department of Education. The Mental Health
Association of N.S.W. is a group of people, both professional and
non-professional, who are interested in research into the maintenance
and improvement of the mental health of the community. Much of their
work is carried out by the group method. The purpose of the parent
group is to allow parents, usually mothers, but quite frequently both
parents, to attend, to meet others in the same position and with the
same interests and problems. By general discussion of topics related to
child-rearing they gain insight into their children and their own behaviour. They gain
support from each other and reassurance that their problems are not
These are only some of the wonderful practical assistances that
are available to us so, if we need them let us take advantage of them
and be grateful for them.
IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR LOVE
We all know that the young child must have love in order to
develop fully - but whilst we know this do we always put it into
practice. He must feel loved from the moment he is born. No amount of things given to the child are a
substitute for love - great big teddy bears, a beautifully furnished
nursery, cars, tricycles, walking dolls, clothes following the latest
fashions. It's not possible to give a child too much love, - too
much real love. Children thrive on it. They soak it up the way the
earth soaks up rain.
Usually we learn to love by being loved. To awaken this response
of love in our children we must love them. The child must see and feel
our love if he or she is to develop this ability to give and receive
love himself. And this is so important for happy adult living. Having
experienced real love all through childhood our children will have
developed the capacity for what psychologists call inter-personal
relationships - true friendships which add so much to the happiness of
adult life for all of us. We must teach them to give and accept love by
showing our love for them now.
Children who have gone astray or who are difficult, often find it
hard to understand when we try to win them back with love and kindness.
In most cases their conduct will become worse than usual, which really
puts our patience to the test, but it's been proved that in the long
run love will win, so we should persist in showing confidence, even
when we are repeatedly disappointed. If we can encourage and praise, we
will find that the child gains self-confidence and the courage to face
life. We should try to give the greatest care, love and attention to
the child who happens to be the most difficult at any given time.
Again, this doesn't mean giving in to their every whim, or pampering
them. It means loving them sensibly.
Love must be expressed -consistently and often in our homes and
the atmosphere of affection built up. In this way we do away with the
loneliness of growing up. Surrounded by love a child blossoms and
develops into a well adjusted, normal child, happy, safe and secure in
the love of parents and family.
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Nihil Obstat: BERNARD O'CONNOR, Diocesan Censor.
Imprimatur: + J. R. KNOX, Archbishop of Melbourne.
22nd December, 1967.
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