Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney (1791-1865), a popular and prolific contributor to the American lay literature during the first half of the 19th century, had this to say about what mothers might do to give their daughters a good constitution.
Mothers, is there any thing we can do, to acquire for our daughters a good constitution? Is there truth in the sentiment sometimes repeated, that our sex is becoming more and more effeminate? Are we as capable of enduring hardship as our grandmothers were? Are we as well versed in the details of housekeeping, as able to, bear them without fatigue, as our mothers? Have our daughters as much stamina of constitution, as much aptitude for domestic duty, as we ourselves possess? These questions are not interesting to us simply as individuals. They affect the welfare of the community. For the ability or inability of woman to discharge what the Almighty has committed to her, touches the equilibrium of society, and the hidden springs of existence.
Tenderly interested as we are for the health of our offspring, let us devote peculiar attention to that of our daughters. Their delicate frames require more care, in order to become vigorous, and are in more danger through the prevalence of fashion. Frequent and thorough ablutions, a simple and nutritious diet, we should secure for all our children.
But I plead for the little girl, that she may have air and exercise, as well as her brother, and that she may not be too much blamed, if in her earnest play, she happen to tear or soil her apron.
- Copyright © 1973 by the American Academy of Pediatrics