Monday, 4 July 2016

"Of Parents and Children" - An Understanding


Bacon, in his essay, Of Parents and Children, deals with the universal sentiments of parents towards their children. He begins the essay by saying that the “joys of parents are secret; and so are their griefs and fears” – indicating that parents experience immense joy in their children’s happiness and similarly their sorrows or misfortunes create greater grief in the parents. Children sweeten the difficulties for the parents; they make difficult and depressing situations, perhaps even the remembrance of death of someone, less painful.

The care for the children exists in perpetuity, meaning, this attitude runs in every generation, and the same is seen in animals as well. However, “memory, merit and noble works” are certain aspects which can be attributed only to mankind. Bacon subtly comments on the achievements of great minds, he tells that probably these men would have had greater achievements if they had only remained “childless” – for they could have concentrated more on their work, keeping the mind and body coordinated enough. Bacon further hints at how children inherit certain qualities from their parents and it is often the first raisers in the house who expect their children to grow up, both in mind and body that indicates a continuance of the parents. However, Bacon points at the close family relations and children tend to imitate behaviour of those of their uncles or nephews, etc.

Further, Bacon highlights at how every child in a house is treated, normally the affection towards their children vary accordingly. The eldest children are respected, given due responsibilities, while the youngest of all is considered to be a “wanton” (someone who is hard to control) and the ones in the middle easily get away unnoticed. This sort of an attitude could lead to negative results where children who are often seen in the strict eyes tend to pick on bad influences. Bacon quotes Solomon, “A wise son rejoiceth the father, but an ungracious son shames the mother.” This means that generally, the father takes pride in his son’s accomplishments but refuse to take any responsibility if the same son is led astray.

Thus, favouritism amongst the children would in most possible ways have bad influence on them; and the puerile fight between two brothers is carried on as they grow up. Now, the indifferences between the siblings would relate to issues over property, relationships, etc. and would disturb the peace in the family. Bacon continues to discuss the apprehensions of the parents when it comes to their children’s choice of their vocation. He insists that it is better for the parents to decide for their children what is best. Nevertheless, if the child does not show any significant improvement or interest in the course or career chosen for him, the parents shouldn’t impose their authority over the child.

Bacon concludes the essay by saying that the younger brothers are often fortunate enough while the eldest are seldom fortunate – for the parents normally expect the eldest to inherit all the qualities of them. Thus, Bacon’s essay not only talks of the universal sentiments of parents towards their children, but also their trepidations in upbringing their children in the right manner.


Arun said...

Despite the times changing I am sure there are certain things that won't change what is written long past am sure still holds good.

Suhasini Srihari said...

Bacon was one of the initial essayists to start the essay form, and it was objective then. This particular essay holds an universal appeal.

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