A Roman Catholic Cardinal once said : “Give us the children until they are seven years old, and you can keep them the rest of their lives.” He meant, of course, that the first seven years of a man’s life are the most impressionable, and that the teaching and training he receives as a young child will never be forgotten. If in his early years he is brought up as a Roman Catholic, or in any other religion, he will be of that religion all his life. There is no doubt that the impressions made on the receptive nature of a child in his early years are not easily forgotten, and have a great deal to do with fixing his character and opinions for the rest of his days.
Naturally it is the mother who has the greatest influence on the child. The child is with its mother all day and night; it is the mother that feeds it and cares for it in babyhood; it learns its first lessons at its mother’s knee; and most of its early moral training is given by the mother. The father is away from home at his work most of the day; and, though he has to take his share in the training of the child, his influence cannot, as a rule, be as great as the mother’s. It is therefore to a great degree true that men and women owe more to the influence, training and example of their mother in early childhood, than to any other one influence. What they do in the world as men and women is largely determined by what she did for them when they were little. Thus she indirectly through them governs the destiny of the race; it is her hand that rocks the cradle, and it is her hand that indirectly rules the world. This is true whether the influence of the mother is good or bad.
There are foolish and bad, as well as good and wise, mothers. The future of any nation, the future of the race, therefore, depends on the character and training of the mothers of the rising generation. It is therefore a matter of supreme importance that the mothers should be educated and fitted for their important task. This is one of the strongest arguments for the proper education of women. No race can be really strong and progressive whose women are ignorant and untrained.