Love and Forgiveness
by Thea Halo
UPDATE: Today, June 22, 2021, I proposed to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that we should have Mandatory Teaching of Parenting Skills in Schools.
One of the most important jobs for both men and women from the beginning of time, was the rearing of healthy, happy, productive children. Yet teaching parenting skills in our schools is still not mandatory, and too many hapless teens and young adults begin parenthood ill equipped to raise their children to be well adjusted, productive members of society.
There is only one major drawback to teaching young men and women how to raise a healthy family. That drawback is leaving our prison system without full cells.
Today is Father’s Day, and many fathers can feel proud of the offspring they helped create and raise. So Happy Father’s Day to all those men who fathered their own children with love and care. And Happy Father’s Day to all those men who fathered other men’s children as if the child was his own. And Happy Father’s Day to all those men who mentored children to become strong and secure, regardless of who sired them. Many of their offspring can rightly feel proud of their fathers today and everyday.
Today’s fathers are often taught how to love and nurture their children. Unfortunately, not all fathers learn the lesson. But at least the lesson is now there to be learned. However, since it’s relatively recent that parents were taught a more lovely approach to raising their family, perhaps it’s appropriate to also address those fathers who were raised in an earlier time, to understand how child rearing mores have changed. Perhaps it will give meaning to the adage that forgiving helps oneself more than the one at fault.
Of course, there are fathers who are or were simply cruel. This is not about them. It’s about the many fathers born and raised in the early and middle part of the last century, whose duty it was to discipline his offspring, sometimes without a clue as to how to go about it. Sometimes that meant fear, and hard work. I would venture to guess that many men who grew up during an earlier time, truly believed they were doing the right thing in raising their children with a heavy hand as prescribed in the bible.
The discipline and fear was often meant for his children, not because he didn’t love them, but because he was taught the old adage: “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” as the bible warns in the Proverbs 13:24. The New King James Version goes even further, “He who spares his rod hates his son. But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” In Leviticus 20:9, the bible goes even further. A child who curses his parents should be put to death, a sentence believed to have been brought about by the child. In Deuteronomy 21:18-21, an unruly child should be brought to the town gate and all the men of the town are to stone him to death. Even earlier psychologists didn’t go that far. Until relatively recently however, corporal punishment was still even permitted in schools.
Today, child psychologists warn against corporal punishment, as it damages the child’s sense of self and could destroy his or her feeling of self worth. Corporal punishment may also lead the child to become an abuser of others, perhaps especially an abuser of women. Yet it wasn’t until December 2017, that “domestic corporal punishment has been outlawed in 56 countries around the world, most of them in Europe and Latin America, beginning with Sweden in 1966.”1
Many years ago, a noted artist friend, Allan D’Arcangelo, who was dying of Leukemia, told me that he wasn’t afraid of dying. He was only concerned about what he leaves behind. At the time I took it to mean his house, its furnishings, his paintings, and his other possessions. But I’ve since come to believe that he also meant his family and his legacy.
Socrates believed that philosophy should achieve practical results for the greater well-being of society. He attempted to establish an ethical system based on human reason rather than theological doctrine. Socrates pointed out that human choice was motivated by the desire for happiness. In Plato’s Symposium, a wise woman, Diotima of Mantineia, instructs Socrates how one attains immortality, i.e. either through the loins by procreating, or by creating great or Noble works.
For some, especially those who struggled to raise a family during difficult times, their offspring are their greatest legacy.
Happy father’s Day to all those who succeeded in raising strong healthy children. And Happy father’s Day for those who tried their best in the only way they knew how.
Thea Halo is the author of Not Even My Name; a former news correspondent for WBAI in NYC; and a former member of both the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) and the International Network of Genocide Scholars (INOGS). Ms Halo’s historical papers are published in a number of Academic books: Genocide in the Ottoman Empire; Sayfo 1915: An Anthology of Essays on the Genocide of Assyrians/Arameans during the first World War; and an upcoming anthology on the Genocide of the Pontic Greeks (during the first World War in Ottoman Turkey). You can view one of her presentations at the Boston State House @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzBfcE4PjTM