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Letters from an Ancient Mind

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 them.

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

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