My dear young friend,
A son! My heartiest of congratulations!
It is, perhaps, a bit early to speak to you of such things. But as one never
knows the day of one’s death, I shall venture a bit of instruction on the art
of raising children.
The first thing is this: children must be brought under authority. You are
under the authority of the Lord; your wife is under your authority, and she must
then rule the children. Never accept from your children the slightest lack of
respect for their mother! She is the woman you love as well as the one who bore
the pain of their birth. She has earned their respect; it is her due. If you
will treat her with constant courtesy and respect, if you will always uphold her
authority over the children, you will have little difficulty in disciplining
There is one obedience above all which you must observe. You cannot deceive
your children. You must be under the authority of Christ. Your wife under your
authority, your children under hers – all depend upon your obedience to
Christ. It is the foundation of your family discipline.
Your children are quick to learn by example, you see. Indeed, much quicker
than you will realize. So if they see you in obedience to Christ; your wife in
obedience to you, and both of you insisting upon their obedience and respect,
they will soon see their place.
How I remember my father, God rest his soul, upholding that! No offense could
be greater than to fail to respect to my mother. I never recall her disciplining
us as children for such a thing; my father took it as personal offense. He
defended her honor, her dignity and her authority on every occasion. Knowing no
better, I did likewise. The results have been most satisfactory in both cases,
and I believe my sons are of the same opinion.
In all this you must remember the Apostle’s command: do not provoke your
children to wrath. In my later years of childhood I often (it is the way of
wisdom for those of thirteen summers) disagreed with my parents. My father
permitted this – as long as all the forms of respect were observed. He, of
course, had the final decision. Often enough, though, my whim and foolishness
were desire enough for him to allow me to try my own follies. Anything could be
said – with respect and honor. In this there is great wisdom.
It is great wisdom for this: some day the child shall become a father as
well. It is good that he then has walked on his own two legs for some time.
Kindly remember that you are not raising a slave for service but a princeling in
his own right. If you will turn your mind to raising a noble man, your son will
have cause to thank you.
Trusting my words to be of service, I remain,
Isaac the alchemist