LOVE seems to resume all the obligations of parents toward their

offspring; certainly, it directs all their actions, and they fulfil

these obligations ill or well according to the quality of that love.

But love is not sufficient; love is of two kinds, the right and the

wrong; nothing good comes of an affection that is not properly ordered.

In itself, parental love is natural, instinctive; therefore it is not

to any high degree. But there is much merit in the proper

kind of parental affection, because it requires sacrifice.

There may be too little love, to the neglect and misfortune of

children. There may be too much, to their spoiling and utter

perversion. Again there may be affection that is partial, that singles

out one for caresses and favors to the exclusion of the others; hence

discord and dissensions in the family. The first two forms of

inordinate affection are equally bad, while the last combines both and

contains the double evil thereof. It is hard to say which is the worse

off, the child that receives too much or the one that receives too

little of that love which to be correct should avoid extremes.

Parents are apt, under the sway of natural affection, to overlook the

fact that God has rights over the children, and that the welfare and

interests of the children must not be left outside all consideration:

herein lies the root of all the evil that befalls the family through

degenerate love. What is commonly, but improperly, called love is

either pagan fondness or simon-pure egotism and self-love.

When a vain person looks into a mirror, she (if it be a "she") will

immediately fall in love with the image, because it is an image of

herself. And a selfish parent sees in his child, not another being, but

himself, and he loves it for himself. His affection is not an act of

generosity, as it should be, but an act of self-indulgence. He does not

seek to please another, he seeks to please himself. His love,

therefore, is nothing but concentrated vanity--and that is the wrong


Such a parent will neglect a less favored child, and he will so far

dote on the corporal and physical object of his devotion as to forget

there is a soul within. He will account all things good that flatter

his conceit, and all things evil that disturb the voluptuousness of his

attachment. He owns that child, and he is going to make it the object

of his eternal delights, God's rights and the child's own interests to

the contrary notwithstanding. This fellow is not a parent; he is a pure

animal, and the cub will, one day make good returns for services


A parent with a growing-up family, carefully reared and expensively

educated, will often lay clever plans and dream elaborate dreams of a

golden future from which it would almost be cruelty to awake him. He

sees his pains and toils requited a thousand fold, his disbursements

yielding a high rate of interest and the name his children bear--his

name--respected and honored. In all this there is scarcely anything

blameworthy; but the trouble comes when the views of the Almighty fail

to square with the parental views.

Symptoms of the malady then reveal themselves. Misfortunes are met with

complaints and murmurings against Providence and the manner in which it

runs the cosmic machine. Being usually self-righteous, such parents

bring up the old discussion as to the justice of the divine plan by

which the good suffer and the wicked prosper in this world. Sorrow in

bereavement is legitimate and sacred, but when wounded love vents its

wrath on the Almighty, the limit is passed, and then we say: "Such love

is love only in name, love must respect the rights of God; if it does

not, it is something else." The Almighty never intended children to be

a paying investment; it belongs to Him to call children to Himself as

well as parents themselves, when He feels like it. Parents who ignore

this do not give their children the love the latter have a right to


Intelligent and Christian parents, therefore, need to understand the

true status of the offspring, and should make careful allowance for

children's own interests, both material and spiritual, and for the

all-supreme rights of God in the premises. Since true love seeks to do

good, in parents it should first never lose sight of the child's soul

and the means to help him save it. Without this all else is labor lost.

God frowns on such unchristian affection, and He usually sees to it

that even in this world the reaping be according to the sowing.

The rearing of a child is the making or unmaking of a man or woman.

Love is the motive power behind this enterprise. That is why we insist

on the disinterestedness of parental love, before touching on the

all-important question of education.