A Couple of Thoughts After Father’s Day
by Hal | June 18th, 2012
Homeschool conventions are pretty heavily loaded with (1) Visionary Things and (2) Nuts and Bolts Things. We do some of each, though we try to put lots of practical help in the visionary presentations and make sure the practical sessions are based on the Word. But convention organizers are always looking around for some sessions that are a little more diverting for the teenagers and fathers who might be less-than-engaged in a serious debate of phonics vs. look-see reading paedogogy.
Just for fun, this year, I offered to do a presentation in the character of Theodore Roosevelt. Here’s the subject c. 1918, and myself in Richmond last week:
It was an interesting experiment. One of the more enriching things for me was reading Roosevelt’s speeches, letters, and other writings in preparation for my session. Like Winston Churchill, Roosevelt was a prolific author and commentator who actually earned much more for his writing than his public service. As the father of six (some of them still young while he was President!), Roosevelt had some great things to say about the business of fatherhood and family life. It was more than personal, to him; he saw it as crucial to the health of the republic.
In 1905 he told an ecumenical conference on marriage and divorce,
It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the cause you represent. If the average husband and wife fulfil their duties toward one another and toward their children as Christianity teaches them, then we may rest absolutely assured that the other problems will solve themselves. But if we have solved every other problem in the wisest possible way, it shall profit us nothing if we have lost our own national soul; and we will have lost it if we do not have the question of the relations of the family put upon the proper basis.
From a long speech to a national mother’s organization, later that year:
[The] happiest and most honorable and most useful task that can be set any man is to earn enough for the support of his wife and family, for the bringing up and starting in life of his children … The man is but a poor creature whose effort is not rather for the betterment of his wife and children than for himself.
But my personal favorite, from his autobiography:
There are many kinds of success in life worth having. It is exceedingly interesting and attractive to be a successful business man, or railroad man, or farmer, or a successful lawyer or doctor; or a writer, or a President, or a ranchman, or the colonel of a fighting regiment, or to kill grizzly bears and lions. But for unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison.
It’s that unashamed affirmation of the joys, privileges, and duties of family life that make me appreciate Theodore Roosevelt, even while his progressive politics give me pause. There’s a lot more where these came from!
Theodore Roosevelt was thoroughly convinced of two things — that America was a special place with a glorious history, and that young men should learn patriotism, honor, and courage from the examples of that history. He and his friend Henry Cabot Lodge wrote Hero Tales From American History to teach those kinds of character lessons.
Now you can listen to Roosevelt’s and Lodge’s stirring stories
with music and sound effects!