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Susanna Wesley was the mother of John and Charles Wesley, who are credited for founding the Methodist movement. Charles also wrote the hymns “And Can It Be”, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”, and the carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. She was one tough mother-let’s take a look at her sixteen rules:

1. Eating between meals not allowed.

2. As children they are to be in bed by 8 p.m.

3. They are required to take medicine without complaining.

4. Subdue self-will in a child, and those working together with God to save the child’s soul.

5. To teach a child to pray as soon as he can speak.

6. Require all to be still during Family Worship.

7. Give them nothing that they cry for, and only that when asked for politely.

8. To prevent lying, punish no fault which is first confessed and repented of.

9. Never allow a sinful act to go unpunished.

10. Never punish a child twice for a single offense.

11. Comment and reward good behavior.

12. Any attempt to please, even if poorly performed, should be commended.

13. Preserve property rights, even in smallest matters.

14. Strictly observe all promises.

15. Require no daughter to work before she can read well.

16. Teach children to fear the rod.

Personally I have to say I really don’t have a problem with any of them. I understand some people have a problem with #4-they believe it’s emotional abuse. But I think those people are misreading the rule. To me, self-will is the desire to do everything for my good and my glory-not God’s glory. I think our natural human tendency is to do everything that we want, not what God wants. So I agree that it’s important to teach a child to do God’s will instead of his own.

I understand Susanna utilized examples to help children understand what she was teaching. I came across this story:

One day one of her daughters wished to do something which was not altogether bad, but which was not right. When she was told not to do it, she was not convinced. It was late and she and her mother were sitting beside a dead fire. Her mother said to her: “Pick up that bit of coal.” “I don’t want to,” said the girl. “Go on,” said her mother. “The fire is out, it won’t burn you.” “I know that,” said the girl. “I know it won’t burn me but it will blacken my hands.” “Exactly,” said Susannah Wesley. “That thing which you wish to do won’t burn, but it will blacken. Leave it alone.”

Susanna also believed in equal education for girls. During her time girls learned needlework, music, and other “girl” skills, before even learning to read. But Susanna disagreed, and being a willful woman of her time she taught her daughters in the same way and at the same ages. Hence rule #15: require no daughter to work before she can read well. As Susanna said, “This rule also is much to be observed; for the putting of children to learn sewing before they can read perfectly, is the very reason why so few women can read fit to be heard, and never to be well understood.”

Susanna also vowed to never spend more time in leisure entertainment than in prayer. But with a double digit number of children, how could she accomplish that? By throwing her long apron up over her head-This act was the signal that everyone knew. When Susanna was under the apron, she was with God and there better be blood or vomit to justify interrupting her.

Susanna Wesley was a fascinating woman and I encourage you to read more about her. I find behind every successful child there is usually a mom with a figurative foot planted right on the kid’s backside, pushing that child along the path to success.

I try to find lessons to learn in every story, and I found a lot of inspiration and tips from Susanna Wesley. I think we could have been really good friends. If you'd like to read a book about her, you could try "Susanna Wesley (The Sowers)" or "Susanna Wesley: Her Remarkable Life" . If you're not wanting to commit that much time, Here's a really good article-"The Praying Example of Susanna Wesley"

Please comment and let me know your thoughts on this post. What do you think of Susanna Wesley and her prayer apron?