transitioning boys to manhood

This is quote is a favorite of mine. It includes thoughts on the art of inspiring manhood from a turn of the century children’s novel called Mother Carey’s Chickens (Kate Douglas Wiggin, 1911). Mother Carey is strategizing about how to get Gilbert, her oldest son, to move toward responsibility and manhood:

“No mother who respects her boy, or respects herself, can ask him flatly, “Do you intend to grow up with the idea of taking care of me, of having an eye to your sisters [and a wife]; or do you consider that since I brought you into this world, I must provide for myself and you until you are a man—or forever and a day after, if you feel so inclined shirk your part in the affair? . . .

“Gilbert’s manliness, and leadership, and discretion, and consideration for others needed a vigorous, decisive push . . .

“The way to begin would be to give him a few delightful responsibilities, such as would appeal to his pride and sense of importance, and gradually to mingle with them certain duties of headship neither so simple nor so agreeable.”

(In the story, Mother Carey sent Gilbert by bus to another city to inquire about renting a house for the family and procure it if available—an age appropriate responsibility and an adventure in one. Later he was assigned more difficult and less agreeable family responsibilities in degrees.)

Kate Douglas Wiggin, Mother Carey’s Chickens, copyright 1911, p. 56 -57, recorded in Susan’s journal 6/11/16


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