Ralph Waldo Emerson

Government of Children

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson left the ministry to pursue a career in writing and public speaking. Emerson became one of America's best known and best-loved 19th-century figures.
More About Emerson

Emerson Quotes

"Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons."
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Rev. Ralph Emerson
[Reprinted from The Ladies' repository: a monthly periodical, devoted to literature, arts, and religion. February 1844, vol. 4, iss. 2, Cincinnati: Methodist Episcopal Church. Etext produced by Jone Johnson Lewis, © 2004. All Rights Reserved.]

It is probably no uncommon thing for a woman to appeal to her husband, in the hearing of their children, to support her authority.  This, I cannot help thinking, is one of the great mistakes she could make. He may, indeed, teach them the duty of respecting their mother; but for her, in their presence, to appeal for such aid, will be regarded by them as an acknowledgment of her inferiority in right or power to command their respect.  And such an acknowledgment may detract more from their respect toward her, than his commands possibly add.  She must command respect by her own conduct and dignity mainly, if she is to hope for it at all.  She is herself to repress their incipient disrespect, and herself to punish the transgression in her own way. And I may here add, that one of the forms in which she will be first called upon to suppress their disrespect, is in forbidding them to say yes or no to her.  Never should she suffer the use of either these stout little Saxon words to her. The child may at first mean no harm; but the bad effect will soon be apparent in him. Nor is a lesson or two on the subject sufficient. The error must always be corrected on the spot, or the bad habit will be formed.  And here is another point in which mothers are more apt to fail than fathers; and hence a great cause of their diminished respect.


Ralph Waldo Emerson left the ministry to pursue a career in writing and public speaking. Emerson became one of America's best known and best-loved 19th-century figures.
More About Emerson

Emerson Quotes

"Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons."
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 
– Ralph Waldo Emerson