Book Title: The Real Home
In an old book written in 1565, the author, Roger Ascham, complains that the men of that time were willing to pay much more to care for their horses, than for their children. “But God rewards them as He should,” says grim old Roger, “for he suffereth them to have tame and well-ordered horses, but wild and unfortunate children; and therefore in the end they find more pleasure in their horses than comfort in their children.”
Some fathers treat their children more harshly than they would treat an animal. “One afternoon,” writes Martha Warner, “as I was reading, I heard some one howl out, ‘Here you; drop that!’ Looking out of the window, I saw by the roadside an automobile, with a grimy man crawling out from under it, and a baby girl toddling in the direction of a woman who was walking down the street.
“The man went after the child, took something away from her, spanked her soundly, and called to the woman: ‘Come back here and take care of this blamed young one! If a few things more get lost, we will be stalled here all night.’
“I turned to my reading, which was about the training a pup received in the school where he was sent to learn the trade of war dog. Only the most skillful men were employed as trainers. The article went on to say: ‘Never once did the trainer lose his temper. And that was well, for once you lose your patience with a learning dog and howl at him and beat him, you lose forever your mysterious power over him.’
“My thought wandered back to the baby girl and the lesson which her trainer – her father – had given her….
“Somehow I feel sorry for the baby girls – and the baby boys – whose fathers, when they lose their tempers, lose sight of their exalted position, that of fatherhood. And I feel sorry for the fathers; for I know they love their baby girls. Yet they will continue to howl at them and beat them, unless they seek help from the great Ruler of us all, in whose sight a baby girl is infinitely more precious than a baby dog.”
Occasionally when a father reaches home and is greeted with the family clamor, he exclaims to the weary mother, who has endured the noise all day, “Can’t you keep those children quiet?” Are they not his children as much as hers? It will be a blessing to him, and a relief to the mother, if he will help in their training, teach and correct them, and share the burdens as well as the joys of the family.
Some fathers find it difficult to win the love of their children on account of their own lack of kindly manners. They are reserved by nature, and though they love their children, they do not know how to tell them so; hence a wall of reserve comes between father and children.
But all this can be overcome if taken in time. Father can play a game with the children, tell them a story, let them comb his hair, ask them what they have done during the day. He can be polite to his little girls, and a kiss now and then will be prized….
“Why did you hold the door open till mamma went into the house?” a very little boy was asked.
At first he could not answer; then he said brightly, “Why, ‘cause daddy does.”
“FATHERS, PROVOKE NOT YOUR CHILDREN TO WRATH”
The father may be a tyrant or an adored sovereign. He may lead his children to heaven or drive them to perdition. The children in any home have the right to fair and courteous treatment. They may be helpless before the temper and surly disposition of their father, but they suffer more than he can know; and he who fails to control his irritation and anger, even when the child has done wrong, suffers a great loss. He plants thorns for his own feet. In the brief biographies of the Bible we obtain glimpses of the training different fathers gave their children. Read the life of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Eli, David. Much good instruction on both sides of the question is given in the experiences of these men.
“HE GAVE HIMSELF”
The greatest gift any father can bestow upon his children is to give them himself, - give them his love, his interest, his time, his companionship.
Edgar A. Guest tells how his father became his teacher and companion:
“My father was the first to show me a business office. It was the one where he had been employed for many years as an expert accountant. I remember that I was curious, as all small boys are; but he was not content merely with gratifying my curiosity. He wanted me to learn the reason of things.
“Very proudly he led me into the office of the general manager, who took me on his knee and talked very kindly. I recall that father seemed pleased with the way I answered his questions.
“There seems nothing extraordinary about such an event. Innumerable fathers have taken their little boys to the place of their employment, and the little boys no doubt have enjoyed their experiences. But not every father thinks to make these happy little visits object lessons of real value.
“On the way home, he talked to me of the people we had seen.
“‘That was a good man you met this morning, sonny,’ he said to me. ‘Did you like him?’
“When I replied that I did, he smiled and added: ‘Once he was a little boy, just like you; and when he first went to work, he was cheerful and willing and obedient and did his best to please others. By and by he worked his way upward, until now he is in charge of the big factory you have just seen. Because he is a good man, people like him; because he has worked hard and made the most of his opportunities, he has succeeded. Copy good men, and you will never go wrong.’
“The incident impressed me as my father intended it should. During our walks together, he had a way of calling my attention to men he wanted me to know, and always he talked about them. He seemed to be acting as a pair of magnifying glasses for me, enlarging the good qualities of others, that I might see them clearly. I never saw a great man without my father’s explaining to me why he was great, nor a bad man without being made to understand what made him bad. In that way I learned what traits to acquire and what faults to avoid. He was teaching me by example, and I didn’t know I was being taught.”
Children love sociability. If they do not find it at home, they will seek it elsewhere.
“No, I cannot go with you after dinner tonight, because that is father’s time and we always have so much fun then.” That was what a girl was heard to say when invited to go with a friend.
“What does ‘father’s time’ mean?” I inquired.
“Oh,” said she, “father’s time is right after dinner at night, an hour or so before we go to bed. Father makes lots of pleasure for us then, and that is the only time we have with him except a little while in the morning. Father never goes away then, neither do we; we give that hour to him, and he gives it to us. It is our ‘together hour.’ Oh, he is such a good, dear father!”
Other fathers may receive such commendation. Loving companionship is the price. This father was away at work all day, with no time for the children except this one hour.
A father’s part in the upbringing of children is not less important than the mother’s. His noble, manlike goodness should be to them a type of the Father in heaven. He is the one to protect and shield his children from the snares of evil, especially as they reach the teen age.
A father asked his traveling companion if he would care to see what he was going to give his ten-year-old boy. He handed over a slip of paper, and this is what his companion read:
“For one year from date, I promise to give my son, one hour of my time every day. And I promise that his time shall be solely his, without interference for business or pleasure of any other sort, and that I shall regard it as a prior engagement each day.”
The father’s name was signed at the bottom.
“Would you like to know what made me think of it?” he asked.
“Well, the other day a young fellow came to me for a job. I had known his father years ago, and they were a fine family. Now this son is down and out. He looked as if he’d been drinking, and evidently he had no funds.
“When I asked how he had come to such a pass, ‘and with such a father,’ I added, he half broke down.
“‘My father must have been a fine man,’ he said, ‘but, unfortunately for me, I only knew it through others. He was always too busy to pay much attention to me. As a matter of fact, I never knew him as a companion, a friend, or anything but a man who paid the hills.’
“As I sat listening to that poor chap, I suddenly realized that he was painting my picture too. I’ve been ‘too busy’ many a time to take an interest in the things brought to me by my boy. I never have been a companion to him. We’re not friends now. Think of that!
“Think of a man’s neglecting the most important business in which he can engage, - the proper raising of his children to help strengthen humanity and carry on the world's work! It came over me like a flash, and I know I must have reddened with shame. And I gave the fellow a job, and told him he'd given me the best job I'd ever had.
”So you see, I am going to put it as a gift, though it’s the highest sort of duty. And really, I ought to make it more than an hour a day, considering the years I’ve been neglecting this biggest of opportunities. Here I’ve been all these years, rushing and working and worrying at a work any intelligent and industrious man could do, and paying the least possible attention to a work no other man in the world can do but myself – being my boy’s father.” – Leigh Mitchell Hodges, in Philadelphia “North American.”
“THIS IS MY FATHER”
It is well for fathers to remember that their children will not always remain young. Your boy thinks you a wonderful man now. You mend his toys, tell him stories, walk and talk with him.
By and by he will leave the home school for college. The friends of his boyhood days – some of them – will also be there. Perhaps their fathers will visit them. The doctor’s son, the boy whose father is in Congress, will go there. Perhaps you will go. Your son will lead the way to the president’s office, and will say, “This is my father, Mr. Wheeler.”
How will your boy feel as he says it? Will your girl dread the ordeal, or will there be satisfaction and pride that they have such a father to present to their friends and teachers? Remember, the boys and girls of to-day will be the men and women of tomorrow, and they reach manhood and womanhood in an amazingly short space.
It is a man’s privilege to be such a father that his children will have no cause to be ashamed of him.
Until children reach the age of from seven to ten years, they are usually more under the influence of the mother; but after that the boy needs true manliness to bear the sneer, “Tied to his mother’s apron strings.” If he can only say with satisfaction to himself, “Father says this,” and if father commands his respect, much is gained.
When girls reach the age of fourteen and upward, the companionship and influence of their father will prove a great power in their lives. If he walks, talks, and reads with them, discusses their studies, their amusements, their future prospects; if he advises them with reference to their friendships, especially those with young men, he can forestall much evil, and prove a lifelong blessing.
The father may be the comrade and best friend of his children. He may enrich his own soul by love, toil, and self-denial. He may learn to live for others instead of self. Who will debase his manhood by being an unworthy father? Who can consent to be impure, untrue, dishonest, brutal, and face the consequences he will reap in his own children? Can you?