“Let each morning and evening be a new and complete day. In childlike simplicity live as if you were to have no to-morrow so far as worrying as to its possible outcome goes. Make the best of to-day's income. Not one minute of to-morrow belongs to you. It is all God's. Thank him that His hands hold it, and not your feeble, uncertain fingers.”

Marion Harland


An Open Secret,

Chapter I.

Sisterly Discourse with John's Wife Concerning John,

Chapter II.

The Family Purse,

Chapter III.

The Parable of the Rich Woman and the Farmer's Wife,

Chapter IV.

Little Things that are Trifles,

Chapter V.

A Mistake on John's Part,

Chapter VI.


Chapter VII.

Must-haves and May-bes,

Chapter VIII.

What Good Will It Do?

Chapter IX.

Shall I Pass It On?

Chapter X.

"Only Her Nerves,"

Chapter XI.

The Rule of Two,

Chapter XII.

The Perfect Work of Patience,

Chapter XIII.

According to His Folly,

Chapter XIV.

"Buttered Parsnips,"

Chapter XV.

Is Marriage Reformatory?

Chapter XVI.

"John's" Mother,

Chapter XVII.

And Other Relations-in-Law,

Chapter XVIII.

A Timid Word for the Step-mother,

Chapter XIX.

Children as Helpers,

Chapter XX.

Children as Burden-bearers,

Chapter XXI.

Our Young Person,

Chapter XXII.

Our Boy,

Chapter XXIII.

That Spoiled Child,

Chapter XXIV.

Getting Along in Years,

Chapter XXV.


Chapter XXVI.

The Gospel of Conventionalities,


Familiar, or Intimate?


Our Stomachs,


Cheerfulness as a Christian Duty,


The Family Invalid,


A Temperance Talk,


Family Music,


Family Religion,


A Parting Word for Boy,


Homely, But Important,



The Secret of a Happy Home

Author: Marion Harland

Published: 1896



Those of us who are mothers would do well to read carefully and ponder deeply St. Paul's assertion that when he was a child he spoke as a child, and felt as a child, and thought as a child; and that when he was a man, and not until then, he put away childish things.

Can the same be said of the child of to-day?

In this "bit of talk," I want to enter my protest against thrusting upon children the care-taking thought that should not be theirs for years to come. When the responsibility that is inseparable from every life bears heavily upon us, we sigh for the carefree days of childhood, but we do not hesitate to inflict upon our babies the complaints and moans which teach them, all too soon, that life is a hard school for us. A child must either grieve with us or become so inured to our plaints that he pays no attention to them. In the latter case he may be hard-hearted but he is certainly happier than if he were exquisitely sensitive.

"What a pretty suit of clothes you have!" said I to a four-year-old boy.

The momentary expression of pride gave way to one of anxiety.

"Yes; but mamma says when these wear out she does not know how papa will ever buy me any more clothes. I am a great expense! Oh!" with a long-drawn sigh of wretchedness, "isn't it awful to be poor?"

The poverty-stricken father was at this time managing to dress himself, wife and baby on an income of four thousand dollars per annum. In her desire to make her child take proper care of his clothes, the mother had struck terror to the little fellow's heart. Such childish terror is genuine, and yet hard to express. The self-control of childhood is far greater than the average father or mother appreciates. Some children seem to have an actual dread of communicating their fears and fancies to other people.

A friend tells me that when she was but six years old she heard her father say impatiently, as his wife handed him a bill:

"I can't pay this! At the rate at which bills come in nowadays, I soon will not have a cent left in the world. It is enough to bankrupt a man!"

At bedtime that night the little daughter asked her mother, with the indifferent air children so soon learn to assume:

"Mamma, what becomes of people when all their money is gone, and they can't pay their bills?"

"Sometimes, dear," answered the unsuspicious mother, "their houses and belongings are sold to pay their bills."

"And when people have no house, and no money, and nothing left, where do they go? Do they starve to death?"

"They generally go to the poorhouse, my daughter."

"Oh, mamma!" quavered the little voice, "don't you think that is dreadful?"

"Very dreadful, darling! Now go to sleep."

To sleep! How could she, with the grim doors of the home for the county paupers yawning blackly to receive her? All through the night was the horror upon her, and to this day she remembers the sickening thrill that swept over her while playing with a little friend, when the thought occurred:

"If this girl's mother knew that we were going to the poorhouse, she would not let her play with me."

Little by little the impression wore off, aided in the dissipation by the sight of numerous rolls of bills which papa occasionally drew from his pocket. But not once in all that time did the child relax the strict guard set upon her lips, and sob out her fear to her mother. She does not now know why she did not do it, except that she could not.

An otherwise judicious father talks over all his business difficulties with his seven-year-old son. The grown man does not know what a strain the anxiety and uncertainty of his father's ventures are to the embryo financier. Not long ago the father announced to him:

"Well, Harold, that man I was telling you of has failed--lost his money--and one thousand dollars of mine have gone with it."

The boy's white, set face would have alarmed a more observant man.

"Oh, papa! what shall we do!"

"Get along somehow, my boy!" was the unsatisfactory answer.

Then, as the boy sadly and slowly left the room, the man to whom one thousand dollars were no more than one dime to this anxious child, explained, laughingly, to a friend, that "that little fellow was really wonderful; he understood business, and was as much interested in it as a man of forty could be."

We fathers and mothers have no right to make our children old before their time. Each age has its own trials, which are as great as any one person should bear. We know that the troubles that come to our babies are only baby troubles, but they are as large to them as our griefs are to us. A promised drive, which does not "materialize," proves as great a disappointment to your tiny girl as the unfulfilled promise of a week in the country would to you, her sensible mother. Of course our children must learn to bear their trials. My plea is that they may not be forced to bear our anxieties also. If a thing is an annoyance to you, it will be an agony to your little child, who has not a tenth of your experience, philosophy and knowledge of life.

There is something cowardly and weak in the man or woman who has so little self-control that he or she must press a child's tender shoulders into service in bearing burdens. Teach your children to be careful, teach them prudence and economy, but let them be taught as children.

The forcing of a child's sympathies sometimes produces a hardening effect, as in the case of a small boy whose mother was one of the sickly-sentimental sort. She had drawn too often upon her child's sensibilities.

"Charlie," she said, plaintively, to her youngest boy, "what would you do if poor mamma were to get very sick?"

"Send for the doctor."

"But, Charlie, suppose poor, dear mamma should die! Then, what would you do?"

"I'd go to the funeral!" was the cheerful response.

To my mind this mother had the son ordained for her from the beginning of the world.

Many boys are all love and sympathy for their mothers. Mamma appeals to all that is tender and chivalrous in the nature of the man that is to be. The maternal tenderness ought to be too strong to impose upon this sacred feeling.

Perhaps one of the prettiest of Bunner's "Airs from Arcady" is that entitled, "In School Hours," in which he thus describes the woe of the thirteen-year-old girl when she receives the cruel letter from the boy of her admiration. The poet tells us this sorrow "were tragic at thirty," and asks, "Why is it trivial at thirteen!"

"Trivial! what shall eclipse The pain of our childish woes? The rose-bud pales its lips When a very small zephyr blows. You smile, O Dian bland, If Endymion's glance is cold: But Despair seems close at hand To that hapless thirteen-year old!"

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