Be Patient with the Little Ones

Timothy Shay Arthur, 1851

Be patient with the little ones. Let neither their slow understanding nor their occasional pertness offend you, or provoke the angry reproof. Remember the world is new to them, and they have no slight task to grasp with their unripened intellects the mass of facts and truths which crowd upon their attention. You are grown to maturity and strength through years of experience, and it ill befits you to fret at the little child who fails to keep pace with your thought. Teach him patiently, as God teaches you, "line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little." Cheer him on in this conflict of mind: in after years his ripe, rich thought shall rise up and call you blessed.

Bide patiently the endless questionings of your children. Do not roughly crush the springing spirit of free inquiry, with an impatient word or frown; nor attempt, on the contrary, a long and instructive reply to every slight and casual question. Seek rather to deepen their curiosity. Convert, if possible, the careless question into a profound and earnest inquiry; and aim rather to direct and aid, than to answer this inquiry. Let your reply send the little questioner forth, not so much proud of what he has learned, as anxious to know more. Happy you, if in giving your child the molecule of truth he asks for you can whet his curiosity with a glimpse of the mountain of truth lying beyond; so will you send forth a learner, and not a silly child into the world.

Bear patiently the childish humors of those little ones. They are but the untutored pleading of the young spirit, for care and cultivation. Irritated into strength, and hardened into habits, they will haunt the whole of life like fiends of despair, and make your little ones curse the day they were born; but, corrected kindly and patiently, they become the elements of happiness and usefulness. Passions are but fires that may either scorch us with their uncontrolled fury or may yield us a kind and needful warmth.

Bless your little ones with a patient care of their childhood and they will certainly consecrate the glory and grace of their manhood to your service. Sow in their hearts the seeds of a perennial blessedness; its ripened fruit will afford you a perpetual joy!