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From Carolina Watchman, January 25, 1845

For What is a Mother Responsible?

A mother is usually also a wife, and has the management of a family and a direct influence over subordination to her head, has the seat of authority and wields the sceptre of government. From a position of entire dependence, she has risen to power and rank, and though her throne may be in a cottage, and her dominion the little work of household affairs, yet is she not the less really responsible, than is that youthful queen who now sways a sceptre over the four quarters of the earth. But for what is she responsible?

She is responsible for the nursing and rearing of her progeny; for their physical constitution and growth; their exercise and proper sustenance in early life. A child left to grow up deformed, bloated, or meagre, is an object of maternal negligenceThis paragraph suggests that women are responsible for the physical well-being of their children. In explaining that women are responsible for children's physical growth and condition, the author expresses the view that the mother has been negligent if her children grow up physically deformed, bloated (likely meaning obese) or meagre (likely meaning overly thin or sickly). In other words, if a child is not in excellent physical condition, the mother is to blame..

She is responsible for a child's habits; including cleanliness, order, conversation, eating, sleeping, manners, and general propriety of behavior. A child deficient or untaught in these particulars, will prove a living monument of parental disregard; because generally speaking, a mother can, if she will, greatly control children in these mattersThis paragraph suggests that mothers are responsible for their children's habits, both in terms of personal health (cleanliness, eating, sleeping), organization, and social interaction (manners, conversation, propriety of behavior). The author goes on to state that mothers can control children in regard to these kinds of habits. Do you think it's true that mothers have the absolute power to control these kinds of habits in their children? .

She is responsible for their deportment. She can make them fearful and cringing, she can make them modest or impertinent, ingenious or deceitful; mean or manly; clownish or polite. The germ of all these things is in childhood, and a mother can repress or bring them forthThis paragraph addresses children's deportment, which the author describes as personality traits (fearful, cringing, modest, impertinent, ingenious, deceitful, mean, manly, clownish, polite). The author further comments that the "germ of all these things is in childhood" and the mother can repress or bring them forth," suggesting that all possible personality traits are present in a young child and that the mother can choose which traits to cultivate and which to attempt to eliminate..

She is responsible for the principles which her children entertain in early life. For her it is to say whether those who go forth, from her fireside, shall be imbued with sentiments of virtue, truth, honor, honesty, temperance, industry, benevolence, and morality, or those of a contrary character -- vice, fraud, drunkenness, idleness, covetousness. These last will be found to the most natural growth; but on her is devolved the daily, hourly task of weeding her little garden -- of eradicating these odious productions, and planting the human with the lily, the rose, and the amaranth, that fadeless flower, emblem of truthIn this paragraph, the author notes that women are responsible for their children's principles -- if a child grows up filled with virtue or vice, temperance or drunkenness, honesty or fraud, industry or idleness, and benevolence or covetousness, the mother is held responsible for that outcome..

She is to a very considerable extent responsible for the temper and disposition of her children. Constitutionally they may be violent, irritable, or revengeful; but for regulation or correction of these passions a mother is responsibleThis paragraph suggests that women are responsible for the "temper and disposition" of their children..

She is responsible for the intellectual acquirement of her children, that is, she is bound to do what she can for this object. Schools, academies, and colleges open their portals throughout our land; and every mother is under heavy responsibilities to see that her sons and daughters have all benefits which these afford and which circumstances permit them to enjoyThis paragraph expresses the opinion that women are responsible for the intellectual growth of their children and to help children acquire every educational advantage that their circumstances will allow..

She is responsible for their religious education. The beginning of all wisdom is the fear of God; and this every mother must teach. Reverence for God, acquaintance with His word, respect for the duties of ordinance of religion are within the ability of every parent to implant, and if children grow up ignorant or regardless of the Bible and the Saviour, what mother, when she considers the wickedness of the human heart, can expect them to rise up and call her blessedThis paragraph places responsibility for religious education squarely on the shoulders of a child's mother, emphasizing the mother's responsibility for teaching the "fear of God" as well as familiarity with the Bible and religious duties. Interestingly, the author notes that religious instruction is "within the ability of every parent to implant," so the author may have considered the father to have some role in religious teaching as well.?

-- Mother's Journ