From Domestical Duties. Headings are not the author’s.
Of parents’ too much lavishness and indulgency upon their children
[Some parents] surpass as much in the excesses [of:]
- feeding them too daintily,
- attiring them too garishly,
- tending them too cockeringly [pampering], and
- letting them spend too much time in sport and play.
Many and great are the mischiefs that follow thereupon. Consider the following.
They who are in their childhood daintily fed, and too much pampered, besides that for the most part they are most sickly, they will in time grow so squeamish in their choice of meats, as their parents shall not know what to provide for them, or when to give it them. The full soul loatheth an honeycomb (Prov 27:7). If a stranger comes to the table where such a child sits, he may soon observe that he has been too daintily fed. If at first children be fed with ordinary moderate diet, they will afterwards be in better health and liking, and also more contentedly and thankfully accept whatsoever will be provided for them. But excess breeds diseases both in body and mind.
Vanity in apparel also corrupts young children, for there is in them, even from the cradle, a natural disposition to outward bravery [daring, defiance, boasting]. Now for parents to prank [puff] them up, what is it but to blow up the fire of vanity, and make it arise into such a flame as in time may much scorch the parents themselves, and utterly consume the children. And yet how usual [common] a fault is this? How monstrously do many parents offend in this manner? What foolish fashion is used of the greatest swaggerers [those who strut in a defiant or insolent manner] and lightest strumpets [harlots or bold, lascivious women], which they will not bring their children unto, and that [even] when their children are not able to discern between stuffs [quilted material] or colours? What can this proclaim but parents’ pride and folly? Proud maids are many times the instruments [engagers] of pranking up children (especially when they are little ones) more than is meet [suitable]: but yet the blame lies on parents for suffering it.
Pampering and Fretting Over Children
Tending children too cockishly [pampering them] makes them too long children [i.e., keeps them in a childlike makeup longer than is appropriate] and too tender, and often alters [i.e., diminishes] a good constitution of body. Some are so overly tender of their children, such that if a child ever so little complains or refuses meat [food] (even from overly daintiness or fullness), [the parents think] the physician must presently be sent for, and the apothecary [pharmacist] sent unto, [resulting in] the child with supposed and apish [subservient] kindness made much worse.
Giving Children Too Much Play Time
Too much sport makes them wild, rude, and unfit to be trained up to any good calling. This excess spends their spirits and wastes their strength. Yet many parents care not how much time their children spend in sport and how little in learning. They think it dulls their children too much to be held to school or to any learning, whereas indeed too much play infatuates them more, and learning would much sharpen their wits.
Consider God’s Corrections
Many cocker [pamper] their children that they would rather suffer them to run into any misdemeanour than correct them. They cannot endure to hear their children cry, and therefore their children must be pleased in all their humours and evil desires. These parents bring shame to themselves and mischief upon their children, for God is oft forced to correct such. Heavy are God’s corrections, and oft light on [i.e., fall upon] parent and child both.
Consider the judgments on Eli and his sons. Such parents make themselves accessory to their children’s sins, yea also to the judgments laid upon their children. God saith of such parents that they honour their children above God (1 Sam 2:29). It is therefore a fond indulgency which makes parents regard neither God’s honour, nor their own or their children’s safety.
A Note to Mothers
Mothers for the most part offend herein. Mothers are so far from performing this duty themselves and are often much offended with their husbands if they do it. And to proclaim their folly to all the world, they cannot commit their children to a tutor or schoolmaster, unless, with a straight charge, that the tutors or schoolmasters do not correct them.
But does not correction make children sots and blocks [blockheads]?
If God’s spirit deserves to have more credence than such foolish women, that objection is most false, for correction giveth wisdom, and driveth out foolishness.
But did not mothers bare these children with much travail?
That may be a good motive for them to seek the true good of their children, so that their trouble and travail may not be in vain. But [they should] not uphold them in the broad way that leadeth to destruction.