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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (March 12, 1916)
The Omaha Sunday Bee Magazine Paoe
I arenfcy. their Worxt Enernier?
Madame de St. Point, Distin
guished Social Philosopher and
Poetess, Makes an Ingenious
Argument That We Should Take
the Education and Control of
to Secure Their
By Madame Valentine deSt Point
the Brilliant Parisian Poetess.
Grand niece of the Great Lamartlna.
'HE child haa In nearly all agei been
regarded aa a thing belonging
exclusively to lta family, to thoie
who bare brought It Into the world. It
teem a to parenta that the normal and
natural act of giving life' to a being
secures to them the exclusive property of
Chat being, to which they accord no aerl
oua rlghta and from which they expect
Thla la a traditional human error which
haa brought untold misery and degrada
tion upon the human race, and which I
feel it to be my most solemn duty to com
bat with all my atrength.
Up to the present the father haa been
the head of the family, ruling aometimea
hie wife, : but especially his children,
crushing them very frequently under a
tyrannical yoke. The conception of the
ancient Hebrew patriarch and the Roman
Paterfamilias baa dominated modern so
ciety to lta aorrow up to our day. Thla
hard paternal yoke la regrettable because
it annihilates the personality of the child.
The Independent children who aeek to
escape from it are not only puraued by
the anger or curses of the father, but
often, even, by legal powers which are
at the command of the head of the family.
In our daya paternal rlghta have been
aomewbat restricted, although in every
civilised country the law glvea theoretical
control of the father over hla children op
to the age of twenty-one. Our Inherited
Ideas ot the paternal authority also give
the father an enormous power, which
varies considerably according to locality,
and is perhapa greater In France than In
in earlier generatlona the father bad
the power ot condemning bta eon to life
long disgrace tor aome trifling escapade,
and thla idea ia 6 till strong with us.
The perils of a disobedient eon are
less grave than they used to be, although
with um the father still possesses the
atrocloua power of destroying the youth
ot the son by shutting him up In a house
of correction until hla majority.
The Father Kuins
His Son's Mind and Body
Thus the law, which no longer recog
nizes a father'! right to kill hli offspring
aa In Roman tlmea, attll gives him the
right to destroy hla mind and body to a
considerable degree. The father can de
prive hla eon of everything that makea
life worth living. He can condemn htm
to live with harsh and degraded persons,
and all that simply for aome boylah
escapade. Usually the children thua
pu&Uhcd had only ahown some lndepend
ence and lack of discipline, which are
often marks ot a strong character, which
would latey make them develop Into capa
ble citizens. This power, conferred up
on one human being to tyrannise over
another being In procesa ot formation,
who stould receive very respect and
every consideration. Is a social Infamy.
Side by side with the father'a power,
affirmed by law, another menace of child
birth is the more or less occult influence
cf the mother.
For the ordinary mother, the ehlld is
a fragile toy which can never be sur
rounded with too much care and love.
It is a hot bouse plant over which she
must watch incessantly, both physically
and morally. She envelope the child In
a network of tenderness gentle, subtle,
tenuous In which it grows weak, lta
natural daring, tta youthful reckless
ness. Is hampered. It is restrained
when it should expand. What the father
doea not command the mother obtains
The proof of thla ia that in later life,
when adult persona are brought to a
condition ot misery or weakness, the
image of the mother appears to their
weakened minds ' and even the word
"mother" usually comes to tbelr Hps.
How well is our French conception of
motherly tenderness Illustrated by that
favorite picture. "Madame Vlgee Le
Brun and Her Child." by herself. It is
a beautiful picture, but it reveala marvel
lously the clinging parasitic type of
motherly love, which holds its child so
closely aa almost to choke it, and which
la really one of the greatest moral weak
nesses of our nation.
Thua parenta. in different ways, abuse
their artificial rlghta over their children,
without recognizing any other obliga
tlona than to keep them alive and to
choose a calling for them. The majority
t parenta even aeem to rxari nes:
"Madame VI gee Le Brun and Daughter."
"This beautiful picture reveals marvellously the
clinging parasitic type of motherly lore, which
holds ita child bo closely aa almoat to
Painting by Mme. Vlgee La Brun.
Mi i'C;; T ! i
' U , '
V - J f t ' '.
. ., . - ' M S":,
dutlea aa a favor, fro which the children
ehould be eternally grateful to them.
Then, parenta often do the greatest
wrong to their children by choosing a
calling for them before they are born,
tnatead of waiting until the right career
la auggested by their natural aptitudes.
In fact, it la not usually In the Interests
of the child that thla choice la made,
but most commonly to satisfy the pater
nal or maternal vanity or the tastes ot
Even when thla choice ia not a brutal
contradiction of the legitimate aspira
tions ot the child, the wishes ot the par
ents continually thwart and confuse Its
development. These wishes prevail
over the aptitudes ot the child, and
turning htm from hla true career con
demn him to perpetu' discontent In an
unsuitable walk of walk. That la a
crime of "lese-lndlvlduallty."
As humanity only acqulrea value
through the Individual, through the
greatest possible number" of Individuals
working and creating, the family by les
sening the strength of an Individual, by
the exercise ot its legal powers, com
mits a crime ot "lese humanity."
Aa against the dutlea ot children to
ward the family, it la now time to assert
their rights. -
These rlghta are more aacred than the
ancient and superannuated rights of the
family over the children, because they
are important to the future, and the
future la more sacred than the past
It la lniquttoua that In a time when
love ot liberty and hatred ot tyranny
have overthrown kings and emperora.
the tyranny ot the family ahould still
1 do not, of course, propose to abandon
all control and leave the child to lta own
The child, being in procesa of forma
tion, cannot know itself, and therefore
la incompetent to guide Itself. It haa
only vaKue and fleetlug desires. It must
be instructed concerning its own nature
and taught to reveal Itself.
Painting by Qreuxe
The child ahould be developed In ac
cordance with Ita possibilities. It must
be watched and guarded by an awak
ened mind, eager to discover these pos
sibilities and to help in their expansion.
But in no case, not even under pretext
ot the most stubborn defiance ot disci
pline, ahould one attempt to enslave the
To be a good educator one must put
aside one'a own character and one'a own
preferences. One must get out of one's
self, in a sense, and throw a mature
mind Into the soul of the child.
Now, it Is impossible for a father who
recelvea his despotic authority by In
heritance and finds it enforced by law
and custom, to put hla child above him
self and not below himself. It Is Impos
sible for the father not to bold himself
up as a model. "Try to be like me, my
son," he will always say, In effect
It la equally Impossible for the mother
not to see again In her child when it is
grown the baby who once had need ot
her feeble physical protection.
The father haa too much power, the
mother too much tenderness, for the
child that they mentally consider their
In reality, to whom doea the child be
long? If it be the offspring of a race of
savages It belongs only to itself.
But when the child Is the offspring of
a civilised family It should be considered
aa belonging to the community which baa
created the civilization In which it la
destined to share. v
In any case, it never belongs to its par
ents, who have only done tor It what the
animals do for their young, what their
own parenta did for them. t. e., to give
them life. For thla act the parenta de- ,
nerve neither gratitude nor condemna
tion. They certainly do not deserve grati
tude for the care and the comfort they
may have given to their children. Ani
mals instinctively and naturally sacri
fice themselves quite as much aa human
beinge for tbelr young. from whom they
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The father had the power of condemning his son to life-long disgrace for some trifling escapade. He still possesses the atrocious
power of destroying the youth of his son by shutting him up in a house of correction until ,
i, mnWltv " cation from whatever family they come.
, nis majority. n Bhould KuIde them Into callings suit-
: . able to their abilities and their tastes, so
' as to obtain the best work from them.
win certainly receive nothing. Those
are the facts concerning the physiolog
ical domain. Aa to the Instruction and
education which parenta usually give
their children, that Is alao a normal act.
Blnce these things are the creation ot
the civilization by which the parents
themselves have benefited. The latest
comers should receive the benefit of all
the human labor which has prepared the
world for them.
The child owes a debt not to hla fam
ily, but to the community, to do his share
of work for civilization.
On the other hand, parents who count
on the help of their children in their old
age are perfect egotists. They have no
right to claim it as a debt. It is only a
charity, like that which the State glvea
to paupers and sick people.
The State haa acquired Innumerable
rights moral rlghta and fiscal rights,
the right of law making, the right of
punishing and rewarding, the right of
life and death, all rights which restrict
the liberty ot the individual. It haa also
recognised certain dutlea toward the
poor and the sick and the weak, but it
has neglected the most Important duty
of all that which it owes to the child.
It controls everything In the lives of
the finished Individuals who make up the
present, and it seems to take little In
terest In the child, who is the most neces
sary element of the future.
The State, with us and other countries,
haa established compulsory Instruction,
but thla means little when the power of
education and direction la delegated to
the family, which interprets thla power
according to lta egotistic sentiments.
The child represents the future of the
community, the element of Invention,
ot creation, of continuation and ot
growth. It is, therefore, right that the
nation ahould assume the exclusive edu
cation of the child.
The State must watch over the phys
ical development ot the children, not only
because In a healthy body energy Is
greater than in a weak one, and pro
ductive labor la In proportion to thla
Qrcat Britain Klghts Reserved.
, v, ' ' - ,
tV " ' -
"The Father's Curse."
"In Sparta boya
flogged at the age
of eight aa a test
of courage and the
looked on to see
that their children
Painting by Rubens
"Abraham Exiling f I agar and
'The conception of the ancient He
brew patriarch possessing the
power of life and death over
his family and children in
fluences us enormously
energy, but alao because sick and incom
petent persons will be a burden to the
State, which will be obliged to find an
asylum for them and aupport them.
i The State must watch over the morai
development of lta children, in order that
they may not be ruined by the errora
and the hereditary defects of their fam
ilies, in order that there may not stand
between their budding mentality and the
collective idea of progress, that atatic
element, that dead weight of family tra
ditions and prejudices, which would
check their progress. At present, under
our mixed system of education, the par
enta undo in the evening what the State
baa done during the day in ita schools
and colleges ot all kinds. The struggle
Is perpetual and Infinitely injurious to
the mental stability of the chlid.
The State ought to take care that every
child baa the same opportunities ot edu-
... - - : :
Absolute personal disinterestedness, the
attentive Indifference of strangers, are
alone capable of properly Judging, con
trolling and directing children according
to their capacities that Is to say, of put
ting every one In the right place, where
it can produce the moat tor the greatest
good of the uatlon and the greatest nap
alness of the Individual.
We have no need to prove this by ex
perience. Ancient Greece, to which we
are so often obliged to turn to find ex
amples of beauty in those magnificent
centuries when phylscal and moral
beauty reached Its highest development,
created a sublime harmony in education.
All the children were taken entirely from
. their parenta In the period of Athenian
greatness and sent to the gymnasia.
In another Greek State, Sparta, they
carried the system of physical education
to its highest perfection. The idea was
to make the boy strong, healthy and
brave, and neither paternal tyranny nor
maternal tenderness was permitted to
hinder this purpose.
At the annual festival of the "DIamas
tlgosls" In Sparta, boys of eight under
went a test of courage by being whipped
before the altar ot Artemis. A recent
painting shows us this interesting cere
mony with the boy in the middle, dis
tance prone on the ground.
The executioner stands over the boy
holding a long double switch, and by the
altar one of the priests holds up a stat
uette of the goddess that was supposed
to become suddenly heavy If the lashing
waa not severe enough. The Spartan
mother calmly looked on to see that their
children bore themselves bravely.
The Ideal Athenian
System of Education.
The Athenians combined intellectual
with physical perfection in their gymna
sia and this should be our aim in edu
The modern State ahould re-establish
these gymnasia and widen their scope.
The State should receive all the children
of the nation from their birth, care tor
them as babiea in nurseries, and then
pasa them on to the gymnasia. There
they would spend their childhood and
their youth. There they would develop
freely and harmoniously.
In these gymnasia, situated far from
the towns. In a vast open space, in a
beautiful country, every branch of edu
cation would be Included, including
sports and instruction, manual, technical,
scientific, philosophic and artistic. '
The same morality, the same hygiene,
the same conception of the nation would
form in the gymnasia citizens with homo
A youth, strong, virile, devoid of all
sentimentality, would come out of these
institutions, end, beginning with their
own generation, raise the intellectual,
moral and dynamic level ot the nation,
which should be the first to apply these
principles of rational education. They
would place that nation without question
at the head of the civilized world.
There exists only one way of realizing
the great modern dream ot equality, and
that is, to make all human beings from
birth equal la the treatment they receive
from the community. The first step
necersary for this Is the suppression of
the family. Equality for men who are
necessarily different can only exist in
the form of equality of advantages, and
the means of development offered by
In brief, "the child of the State" will
be the triumph ot the Individual for the
greatest benefit of the community. It
will be the logical realization of the great
ideal ot equality through which alone
humanity can become godlike.
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