Lest you should be put off completely by Martha Laurens Ramsay, her religious temperament and the self criticism she constantly engaged in, note what her husband in the introduction to her Memoir has to say about her as a mother.
[She] exerted herself to keep [her children] in good humour; gave them every indulgence compatible with their best interests; partook with them in their sports; and in various ways amused their solitary hours so as often to drop the mother in the companion and friend; took a lively interest in all their concerns, and made every practical exertion for their benefit. . . . [A]s a mother [she] was very moderate in urging her parental rights, and avoided, as far as was consistent with a strict education, everything which might provoke her children to anger.”
According to her husband, Martha as a parent felt it wise to “make proper allowance for indiscretions and follies of youth . . . and to behave . . . in the most conciliatory manner, so as to secure their love and affections on the score of gratitude.” It should be noted that “She . . . on proper occasions, used the rod, but always with discretion and judgment, sometimes with prayer, often with tears, but never with anger.”
Martha Ramsay persisted in advising her children on the proper paths they should take and how they should behave. To conclude this series, here are some excerpts from letters she wrote to her son David who was sent to Princeton at a young age.
God has given you an excellent understanding. Oh, make use of it for wise purposes; acknowledge it as his gift; and let it regulate your conduct and harmonize your passions. Be industrious; be amiable. . . . I am glad you like your room-mate. I hope he is one who will set you no bad example, and with whom you may enjoy yourself pleasantly and innocently. . . . From the tenor of your last letter, it may be fairly inferred that you are dissatisfied with the strictness of a collegiate course; and if you should not go through a collegiate course, what then? Can you go through any virtuous course without economy, industry and self-denial? Can you fit yourself for usefulness on earth, or happiness in heaven, in any other way than doing your duty in the station in which God has placed you? And if your chief ambition is, without caring whether you are as wise and good, to wish at least to be richer than your father and mother, will not a diligent attention to collegiate studies and duties be the readiest method to fit you for such eminence in whatever profession you choose, as shall enable you to attain this golden treasure. . . .
Your vacation is now at no great distance. I hope you are not trifling away this prime of your days, content with such attainments as will excuse you from censure; but emulous of ranking with the most studious, most prudent, and most virtuous of your companions. I wish I could inspire you with a laudable ambition, and with feelings that would make you avoid any unnecessary intercourse with the bucks, the fops, the idlers of college; and think that the true intention of going to a seminary of learning is to attain science, and fit you hereafter to rank among men of literary and public consequence. . . . [I]n order to accomplish all, or any of these purposes, you must be frugal, and not attempt to vie in wasting money with the sons of rich planters, who only go to college for fashion’s sake, and whose lives are as useless as their expenses.
David seemed to need/want more money than his parents had agreed to provide. His mother chided him for that
The real expense of boarding and tuition in colleges is a matter well known from printed statements; it is easy, therefore, to calculate what beyond it is necessary for the clothing, pocket money and conveniences of a young man, who does not go to college to be a fashionist, to support various changes of apparel, to drink, to smoke, to game, but to lay in a sufficient stock of knowledge, and to attain such literary honours, as may be the foundation of future usefulness, a fortune to him. . . . Your last letter was written in a strain of affection and good resolution, which gave me great pleasure. . . . May God bless you, my dear son, and make you a son of comfort and honour to your dear father, and your most affectionate mother and friend,