We have read an incident of a little boy who, when he wanted a new suit of clothes, begged his mother to ask his father if he might have it. The mother suggested that the boy might ask for himself.
"I would," said the boy, "but I don't feel well enough acquainted with him."
There is a sharp reproof to the father in the reply of his son. Many a father keeps his children so at a distance from him that they never feel confidentially acquainted with him.
They feel that he is a sort of monarch in the family. They feel no familiarity with him. They fear him and respect him, and even love him some—for children cannot help loving everybody about them—but they seldom get near enough to him to feel intimate with him. They seldom go to him with their little wants and trials. They approach him through the mother.
They tell her everything. They have a highway to her heart on which they go in and out with perfect freedom. In this keeping aloof fathers are to blame. Children should not be held off. Let them come near. It is wicked to freeze up the love-fountains of little ones' hearts. Fathers do them an injury by living with them as strangers. This drives many a child away from home for the sympathy his heart craves, and often into improper society. It nurses discontent and distrust, which many a child does not outgrow in his lifetime. Open your hearts and your arms, O fathers; be free with your children; ask for their wants and trials; play with them; be father to them truly, and then they will not need a mediator between themselves and you. —Glad Tidings.
The story is told of a young man who stood at the bar of justice to be sentenced for forgery. The judge had known him from a child and known the family intimately. The boy's father was a famous legal light, having written some of the best material on the subject of "Trusts."
"Do you remember your father?" asked the judge in stern fashion, "that father whom you have disgraced?"
"Yes," said the boy, "I remember him perfectly. When I went to him for advice and companionship he often said to me, `Run away, boy, I'm busy.' My father gave all his time to his work and little time for me. So here I am."
The great lawyer had written much about trusts, but had missed the greatest trust of all—his own son. God has laid definite responsibilities on Christian parents. What a tragedy to make the mistake the great lawyer made.—Selected.
A devoted father came into the room where his eight-year-old was dying of an incurable disease. The child, sensing that he was not going to get well asked his father, "Daddy, am I going to die?" "Why, son, are you afraid to die?" The child looked up into the eyes of his father and replied, "Not if God is like you, Daddy!"—Sunday School Times.
Listen, Son, I am saying this to you, as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls sticky wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room, alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a hot, stifling wave of remorse swept over me. I could not resist it. Guiltily I came to your bedside.
These were the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called angrily when I found you had thrown some of your things on the floor.
At breakfast, I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And, as you started off to play and I made my train, you turned and waved a little hand and called, "Goodbye, Daddy" and I frowned, and said in reply, "Hold your shoulders back!"
Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the hill road, I spied you, down on your knees playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends, by making you march ahead of me back to the house. Stockings were expensive—and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father! It was such stupid, silly logic.
Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in, softly, timidly, with a sort of hurt, hunted look in your eyes? When I glanced up, over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door.
"What is it you want?" I snapped. You said nothing, but ran across, in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, again and again, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.
Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hand and a terrible sickening fear came over me. Suddenly, I saw myself as I really was, in all my horrified selfishness, and I felt sick at heart. What had habit been doing to me? The habit of complaining, of finding fault, of reprimanding—all of these were my rewards to you for being a boy. It was not that! I did not love you; it was that I expected so terribly much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.
And there was so much that was good, and fine, and true in your character. You did not deserve my treatment of you, son. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself, over the wide hills. All this was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me goodnight. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt here, choking with emotion, and so ashamed. It is a terrible atonement. I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. Yet, I must say what I am saying. I must burn, sacrificial fires, alone here in your bedroom, and make free confession. And I have prayed God to strengthen me in my new resolve. Tomorrow I will be a real Daddy. I will chum with you and suffer when you suffer and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying, as if it were a ritual: "He is nothing but a boy—a little boy!" And I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet, as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday, you were in your mother's arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much! My dear little boy! A penitent kneels at your infant shrine here in the moonlight. I kiss the little fingers and the damp forehead, and the yellow curls, and, if it were not for waking you, I would snatch you up and crush you to my breast. Tears came and heartache and remorse, and I think, a greater, deeper love, when you ran through the library door and wanted to kiss me!—Gospel Herald.