by Sandi Austin

Mother’s Day became an official U.S. holiday way back in 1914, thanks to President Woodrow Wilson. But go back 300 more years and you’ll find a mother to be dealt with. Whether it was education, religion, mealtime, discipline, or even bedtime, Susanna Wesley ran a tight ship. Every part of her children’s lives – learning, eating, sleeping – had its own scheduled place in their 24-hour days.

When it came to discipline and manners, Mrs. Wesley meant business. Her children were expected to behave, be polite to others, never lie, and show respect, much like the values we were taught while growing up or what we teach our own children today.

In fact, a lot of Mrs. Wesley’s parenting parallels ours today. Back in her day, Mrs. Wesley’s family dinners included a “little” table for her children. They ate there until they were old enough to behave at the table and to use utensils properly. And, they were expected to eat what was on their plates … or go hungry. Does that ring a bell?

More of Mrs. Wesley’s teachings were saying grace before meals, reciting bedtime prayers, and not going outside to play until their school work was finished. I think we all grew up with those lessons, didn’t we?

Certainly, Mrs. Wesley was a no-nonsense mom who could have written the ultimate guide to parenting. She should know. After all, she successfully raised ten children, two of them being John and Charles Wesley. And we Methodists all know who they were and the legacy they left behind them.

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