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Concerning Children by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The unnatural mother cares for Children


unnatural mother, who is possessed of enough intelligence and knowledge to recognise her own deficiencies, gladly intrusts her children to superior care for part of the time, and constantly learns by it herself.

The mother-love, which is so far strained by the difficulties of rearing children in the home as to frequently give way to irritability, weariness, and even bad temper, would be kept fresh and unworn by the eight-hour rest; and the child would never learn to despise his mother's irascibility and lack of self-control, as, unfortunately, so many children do. To the child, happy and busy in his day hours of education, the home-coming would be an ever new delight, and the home--"papa and mamma's house"--a lovely place to respect and enjoy.

Many will wonder why the mother is described as "working" during eight hours. The able-bodied and able-minded human being who does not work is a contemptible object. To take from the labour of others so large a share of human products as is necessary to our comfort to-day, and contribute nothing in return, is the position of a devouring parasite.

Most women do work, hard and long, at house-service. The "natural" mother is content to mingle her "sacred duties" of child-care with the miscellaneous duties of a house-servant; but the "unnatural mother," for the sake of her children, refuses to be the kitchen-maid, parlour-maid, and chamber-maid

of the world any longer. She recognises that her real duties are too important to be hindered in their performance any longer by these primitive inconveniences; and, with combined intelligence, she and the others arrange their households on a basis of organised professional service, with skilled labour by the hour, and so each has time to perform some professional service herself, and pay well for the better performance of the "domestic" tasks.

This subject is treated in a special volume on "Women and Economics," but here it is sufficient to present the position of the mother, the "unnatural" mother, who would refuse to maintain any longer our grossly defective system of household service (either by herself or by a hired woman), on the ground that it was not conducive to the best development of her children.

To those who for any reason prefer, or are compelled by circumstances, to pursue the profession of private house-servant, it will, however, be of inestimable advantage to have their children taken out of the dirt and danger, and placed in proper conditions, while the mother follows her profession at home. The natural mother cares only for her own children. She loves and labours without knowledge, and what experience she gains by practising on her own children is buried with her. The unnatural mother cares for Children,--all of them,--and knows that she can best serve her own by lifting the standard of child-culture for all.

We have urgent need of the unnatural mother,--the mother who has added a trained intellect to a warm heart; and, when we have enough of them, the rarest sound on earth will be that now so pitifully common,--the crying of a little child.


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