THE DUTY OF BRINGING
UP CHILDREN WELL
to this: bring up your children in the ways of God. Youth is a wild time
and needs the attention of many teachers and attendants, even while its
wildness can barely be restrained.
Youth is like an unbroken horse or an untamed beast. If we give it from the
start something good to aspire to, our problems will be fewer, for it will
be governed by the good habits it has acquired.
We must not indulge our children by letting them do things which may be
enjoyable, but are also harmful. It is most important to guard their
chastity which young people find difficult.
If they cannot keep their chastity it is better for them to marry while
their bodies are still undefiled for then they will be better true lovers.
The man who has been chaste before marriage will find it easier to be
faithful to his wife. The man who has learnt to fornicate before marriage
will do it afterwards as well. “To a fornicator all bread tastes sweet”
Children are a great deposit of trust. We must be careful not to let the
devil take them away from us. But as things go today we make everything
work against us. We do everything to find a reliable guardian for our
children, and then entrust them to any old donkey driver who happens to be
passing. We seem to have no concern in preserving our children’s chastity.
We have many possessions and we are generous to our children, but we are
failing to look after them properly. This is absurd. If we bring up our
children properly all the rest will follow. If we do not, no amount of
money will repair the harm. But if our children’s upbringing is well
arranged, they will not be adversely affected even by poverty.
Do you want your son to be rich? Then teach him virtue. If he is virtuous,
he will keep and increase his inheritance, or at least he will not lose
what he has from the family. But if he is wicked, even if you leave him
millions, he will not be able to look after it properly, and he will be in
a worse situation than those who have fallen into the most abject poverty.
For those badly brought up it is better for them to be poor than rich.
Poverty keeps them, though against their will, in virtue, whereas wealth
prevents them from living sensibly even if they want to and embroils them
in hundreds of difficulties.
Mothers, give your daughters a good upbringing. Make sure they are
home-loving. Teach them to despise money and make-up. Then you will have
prepared them well for marriage. You will be helping them be saved and
their husbands as well, and indeed their own children and grandchildren.
The branches will be healthy if the root is sound, and the reward will be
yours. We should live as if not just trying to save one soul, but many more
through this one. Let your daughter be like an athlete: knowing they would
leave home for the gym or track, they must know exactly what to do, and
then she will be able to be leaven to all around her.
St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Timothy, 9,2.