Provoke not your children to wrath

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“‘Provoke not your children to wrath.’  Easily said; but how are we to avoid it?  Strife between old and young seems inevitable.  Today the world changes fast and inconceivably fast; in pastoral and agricultural times, what a man knew was of use to his son, but in the industrial age Father’s knowledge is out of date before the son is half grown up.  We should be more than human if the result were not bitterness and conflict.  Then too there are just too many people on this teeming and screaming earth for us to welcome a new man with whole-souled enthusiasm.  Our God-given biologic nature, which rejoices in parenthood, and our fallen self-seeking nature, which hates it as the creator of responsibilities, are at war with each other; and if we cannot make peace with ourselves, how shall we make peace with our children?

The ideal solution, of course, would be to remake our jerry-built, precarious society into a sound and safe one.  But, let’s admit it, we don’t know how; and if we knew, we have not the power; and if we had the power, as long as we are sinners we should lack the love.  There is only one thing a man can really remake–himself–and that only with the aid of God’s grace.  Laws and organizations and schools are good things, creches and social services and youth groups may be admirable things.  Yet–a reminder obvious, trite, but necessary–none of them can replace the love the guidance of father and mother.  Our problem then, pending reconstruction of the world, is to reconstruct our lives so that we give our children as much warmth and attention and time and teaching as the present world will allow.

At least we might give them our leisure.  Let us drop the disastrous cant that persuades women, often against their own hearts, that they have a ‘duty’ to neglect their children for civic affairs, or broadening cultural activities, or even, heaven help us, for ‘realizing their creative potentialities through self-expression in a rewarding career.’  Let us drop too the curious theory that the care and teaching of children are entirely women’s work, and that their father should have as little to do with them as possible.  Most of all, let us remind the innumerable Americans who don’t seem to know it that begetting and rearing a family are far more real and rewarding than making and spending money.”

– Joy Davidman, Smoke on the Mountains

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