This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
Frequency of indulgence does not only deteriorate the moral tone of the coitive act, but it often provides the germinal agencies of serious diseases. The remote cause of insanity and consumption is not infrequently intemperance in marital union. The children who are the products of the earlier periods of married life, at which time coitive intemperance is most frequently indulged, are more mentally imbecile, and more pallid in hue and attenuated in form than those born at a later period. This is in consequence, that, sooner or later, the parents are forced to abstain from excess by the ensuing ruination of health, allowing nature to gather up the shattered powers and assert anew the control of the organism. In the early years of marriage excesses should therefore, by no means transpire.
During the period of the catamenial presence, strict continence must be observed by the conjugal pair. I should not give this caution were I not aware that in many instances the marital prerogative is thus grievously abused. Propriety and privilege in this respect are particularly at variance, and duty demands observance of propriety.
During the period of pregnancy the husband's conduct should be characterized by kindness, forbearance, and encouragement. While the germ of an immortal being is in her loins, that husband is no more than a brute, who would in any way neglect her wishes, or refuse to join with her in the solicitude for its welfare. The expectant mother must also control every appetite or mental passion that might injure the precious trust committed to her. The best and noblest thoughts should occupy her mind, and the purest sentiments prevail in her heart, while the babe is hid beneath it, so that her shortcomings and caprices may not be communicated to the product of her conception. She should be, and her husband should assist her to be, patient under any weariness or sorrow belonging to her condition. She should strengthen her heart against the hour of her labor with the thoughts of joy she shall feel, when her child shall see the light, and the process of maternity fulfilled. It is she who bore and in agony gave birth to the link that unites the parents all the more closely together, and that strengthens the hymeneal compact. To her the husband owes devotion, allegiance, and comforting encouragement. He must make her feel that the joys of maternity are not to be centered entirely in the little helpless babe nestling in her arms, but also her heart is to be rejoiced in witnessing the paternal pride of the product of connubial union--the jewel of their conjoint love. The component parts of the family are then complete, the husband, the wife, and the child, nothing is wanting but the coupling of energy and intent, to procure the highest share of human bliss to abe obtained on this side of the grave.
The author is prompted, but space will not allow, to give at length his views upon the management of children. On this point husband and wife frequently disagree, and the result of the disagreement is manifested in the child. It is more usually the case that the father is sterner and firmer than the mother, in whose heart the tender elements of humanity prevail. It is, however, not necessary to be stern in the management of children, but an unflinching firmness is at all times essential, and absolutely necessary in both parents to gain a healthy control over their children. Firmness must, however, be exhibited in the same direction, and that direction the right one.
There is a tendency, we think, at the present day to put children too forward, not so much for the sake of showing off their extraordinary merits to an admiring world, as from the better motive of early accustoming them to the conversation of grown people and the usages of society, and of inspiring them with confidence, ease, and self-possession. No doubt these results are very valuable, but the mistake which many people make is in forgetting that children are something like dogs, which require to be very well trained before they can safely be recommended to the familiarity of strangers. And it is to be remembered that the moment children cease to respect any of the grown-up people with whom they associate, not only is the whole benefit of the intercourse lost at once, but real injury is inflicted on the moral tone of the child. For this reason children should be brought as little as possible into the society of men and women who cannot command their respect; while those who can, the influence should be hedged round by all the numerous impalpable barriers which judicious parents know perfectly well how to interpose between children and the most popular and careless of their adult play-fellows. The confidences which well-bred children at once repose in an eligible stranger, without being rude or troublesome, is charming to everybody, who has any natural taste for their society. It is not pleasant, on the other hand, to see children who are shy, timid, and sheepishly speechless in the presence of strangers, but a confidence and unobtrusive case of manners can be inspired without thrusting them constantly into the society of elders.
Closely allied with the mistaken license allowed to children in matters like the above, is the disposition to laugh at, and thereby to encourage, all traits of singularity, oddness or affectation, which children may exhibit, as marks of genius which ought not to be repressed. Of all the dangerous errors into which parents can fall, this, in our opinion, is the worst. For nothing so soon hardens into second nature as juvenile eccentricity; and few things are more injurious to success in life than marked oddities of manner and gesture when they reach the point of grotesqueness. The fond parents dote upon the eccentric child as an original, but the author in this respect agrees perfectly with Mr. Peter Magnus; he does not see the necessity of originals. And what is more, so many "originals" are only sham ones after all. That is to say, their singularity is merely a bad habit which they can't shake off, and is only very partially innate. When parents see their child doing anything unlike other children, anything queer, surprising, or uncouth, however comic or however clever it may seem, they should never laugh at or applaud it. Children naturally self-willed, and with real natural peculiarities, can soon be broken of such tricks, if treated with absolute indifference. But soon let the idea find its way into their brains that such sallies, naughty though they be, are regarded as marks of genius, and the mischief is done. It is not necessary that parents should engage harsh reproof or exhibit anger to correct such pertness or disposition to oddity, but if approbation is withheld, and probably displeasure shown, the mischief will soon be corrected. Children, like their elders, delight in approbation, and if they can only secure it by doing what is right and proper, the inclination to do that which is wrong or displeasing, is robbed of its greatest incentive.