Mothers Raise Presidents...But!!
by Archie Wortham
"Happy will that house be in which relations are formed from character." Ralph Waldo Emerson said that. I use it to remind fathers of their responsibilities for raising sons and daughters who will lead us to our old age.
In writing her book, ‘First Mothers', Bonnie Angelo researched the lives of eleven American Presidents. What she discovered may amaze some of you. Angelo found that for all the Presidents she studied, each of these President's mothers were significant positive influences in their sons' lives. For some of you that may be nothing new. Fathers and sons have stayed connected because of the verisimitude of mothers for a long time! The mother/son connection has forever been part of the fabric that has held neighborhoods, schools and this country together.
For me, [ever the father advocate] the most dynamic part of Ms. Angelo's research is it revealed that each mother of a President she looked at had a healthy and strong relationship with their own father. The maternal grandfathers of these Presidents had given their daughters a sense of confidence and individuality that prepared them to raise future Presidents in spite of the many challenging financial and family circumstances they faced. Mothers like Barbara Pierce Bush, Sara Delano Roosevelt, and Nancy Hanks. These "first mothers" had received an important gift from their fathers. These mothers had been prized, loved and encouraged by the most important men in their developing years, their dads.
Bunk, some of you might say. Perhaps, but think about the lady you married. What do you think of her dad? In many cases, young girls who have a very close relationship with their fathers invariably marry a man that epitomizes the same traits. Remember as James Watts has said, "character comes from doing the right thing when no one is looking."
So you may not be raising a wife of a President, so what! What you are doing is raising the mother of your grandkids. The values you give your daughter are the same values she will give your grandchildren. The man she chooses to marry, more often than not, will be a reflection of the same virtues, values and vitality she has seen you display. Dads, how you treat her mother, your wife, is the same way your daughter will expected to be treated, and men, we have let some of the simple manners that used to characterize how we treated women...slide.
When is the last time you opened a door for a lady? Now I understand, it's a bit hard with all the feminists beating you to the door. But when was the last time you even did it for your wife, or your mother? A bit more arcane is the old habit of standing when a lady came into the room, or giving ladies your chair to sit in, if the chairs were filled. This was not done out of deference to the ‘weaker' sex. [And for any of you who think women are the weaker sex, you really are in the dark ages.] Men do this out of respect.
My point in this article, written out of respect for our first President, is to remind men that relations are formed from character, and if we want our country to continue to be great, we have to give our sons and daughters images of greatness for them to emulate for their children.
The tragedy of 9/11 gave us a slew of heroes America desperately needed. I'm sure if you were to examined the wives of those heroes, dads played a key role in who they became. Granted the moms have a 9-month start on bonding, but girls can only be ‘daddy's little girl,' which remains the truth regardless of how old they are.
So what are you going to do, men? What are the challenges facing you as you attempt to measure out how to be a more effective father? No one can answer those questions, or rise to those challenges but you. You can start by listening to your daughters, and reassuring your wives how glad you are to have her as the mother of your children. You can start by opening more doors, emphasizing to your sons to respect their mother by showing her the respect she deserves.
And invariably what will happen in this scenario? You'll have a mother who loves you more, a daughter who will always want to bring the grandkids by, and perhaps most importantly, a daughter who will make sure she is treated properly, because she has seen how a man treats a lady, as Barbara Pierce saw her dad, Marvin, treat her mom. Thanks to both of you, we have a great leader to father us when our country needed one.
Copyright © 2002
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