Here’s some advice about relating to ‘younger people’ from Karl Barth to his friend Carl Zuckmayer:

  1. Realize that younger people of both sexes, whether relatives or close in other ways, have a right to go their own ways according to their own (and not your) principles, ideas, and desires, to gain their own experiences, and to find happiness in their own (and not your) fashion.
  2. Do not force upon them, then, your own example or wisdom or inclinations or favors.
  3. Do not bind them in any way to yourself or put them under any obligation.
  4. Do not be surprised or annoyed or upset if you necessarily find that they have no time, or little time, for you, that no matter how well-intentioned you may be toward them, or sure of your cause, you sometimes inconvenience and bore them, and they casually ignore you and your counsel.
  5. When they act in this way, remember penitently that in your own youth you, too, perhaps (or probably) acted in the same way toward the older authorities of the time.
  6. Be grateful for every proof of genuine notice and serious confidence they show you, but do not expect or demand such proofs.
  7. Never in any circumstances give them up, but even as you let them go their own way, go with them in a relaxed and cheerful manner, trusting that God will do what is best for them, and always supporting and praying for them.
– Carl Zuckmayer, A Late Friendship: The letters of Karl Barth and Carl Zuckmayer (Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 45.
[HT’s: Travis; Image is of Carl Zuchmayer with his family, Berlin 1928]

This came in an email today:

‘Guidance is priceless. Next to love and nurture, giving your child a sense of discipline is one the most important gifts parents can bestow. While most parents realise how critical it is to set limits, doing it in a consistent, effective way is by no means an easy task. We all want kind, thoughtful, well-behaved children but we don’t always know the best way to achieve this. And in the back of our minds, we all worry that setting too many boundaries may curb our child’s spirit. Finding the right balance between encouraging your child’s freedom of expression and guiding him on the right track, can be a truly difficult task at times. So it’s well worth taking the time to discuss these issues with your partner, with other mothers, and family members who can offer advice. Try to decide early on how you will deal with disciplining your child. Trust your instincts and don’t pander to toddler tantrums, even if your little angel is causing the most incredible scene in the middle of the supermarket! Remind yourself that you are the adult here, and that this is not about who “wins” in the battle of wills. Always try to stay as calm as possible, keep your own anger at bay, and stick to your discipline routine. Remember that consistency and fairness are the two most important ingredients, and don’t waste any time worrying about what other people might think of you or your child’s behaviour’.

Just thought it was worth sharing … cos dads never have tantrums, do we? But if we did (try to imagine life on some other planet for a second), what should the kids do?