Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn’t music.
The hearts of small children are delicate organs. A cruel beginning in this world can twist them into curious shapes. The heart of a hurt child can shrink so that forever afterward it is hard and pitted as the seed of a peach. Or again, the heart of such a child may fester and swell until it is a misery to carry within the body, easily chafed and hurt by the most ordinary things.
Parents, by humoring . . . them when little, corrupt the principles of nature in their children, and wonder afterwards to taste the bitter waters, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain.
Novelist Toni Morrison was asked why she had become a great writer, what books she had read, what method she had used to structure her practice. She laughed and said, “Oh, no, that is not why I am a great writer. I am a great writer because when I was a little girl and walked into a room where my father was sitting, his eyes would light up.”
Any kid who has two parents who are interested in him and has a houseful of books isn’t poor.
Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood — finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.
I have never been one of those people . . . who feels that the love one has for a child is somehow a superior love. . . . But it is a singular love, because it is a love whose foundation is not physical attraction, or pleasure, or intellect, but fear. You have never known fear until you have a child, and maybe that is what tricks us into thinking that it is more magnificent, because the fear itself is more magnificent. Every day, your first thought is not “I love him” but “How is he?” The world, overnight, rearranges itself into an obstacle course of terrors.
The thing that impresses me most about America is the way parents obey their children.
Badgered, snubbed, and scolded on the one hand; petted, flattered, and indulged on the other — it is astonishing how many children work their way up to an honest manhood in spite of parents and friends. Human nature has an element of great toughness in it.
The first thing a child should learn is how to endure. It is what he will have most need to know.
Never do for a child what he is capable of doing for himself.
In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child’s need for quietness is the same today as it has always been — it may even be greater. . . . In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.
Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude.
[Children] seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.
When [German physician and philosopher] Albert Schweitzer was asked how to raise children, he said, “Three principles — first, example; second, example; and third, example.”
I’m not raising children. I’m raising the grown-ups they’re going to be. I have to raise them with the tools to get through a terrible life.
It’s just that the thing you never understand about being a mother, until you are one, is that it is not the grown man . . . you see before you, with his parking tickets and unpolished shoes and complicated love life. . . . I looked at Will and saw the baby I held in my arms, dewily besotted, unable to believe that I had created another human being. I saw the toddler, reaching for my hand, the schoolboy weeping tears of fury after being bullied by some other child. I saw the vulnerabilities, the love, the history.
It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.