A Crooked Tree” espouses a method of child-rearing that doesn’t crush the child’s spirit and stands in stark contrast to earlier philosophies of child-rearing; it was one of the few pieces of such advice to appear in Robert Merry’s Museum.

“A Crooked Tree” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, February 1857; p. 43)

A child, when asked why a certain tree grew crooked, replied, “Somebody trod on it, I suppose, when it was a little fellow.” How painfully suggestive is that answer. How many, with aching hearts, can remember the days of their childhood, when they were the victims of indiscreet repression, rather than the happy objects of some kind direction and culture. The effects of such misguided discipline have been apparent in their history and character, and by no process of human devising can the wrong be now rectified. The grand error in their education consisted in a system of rigid restraints without corresponding efforts to develop, cultivate, and train in a right direction.

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