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Be Good To Yourself

Neglect Your Business But Not Your Boy

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Every boy is going to have a confidant, someone to whom he can tell his secrets and whisper his hopes and ambitions which he would not breathe to others. We take it for granted that his mother will stand nearer to him than any other person, but every boy will have some male friend who will stand in a peculiar relation to him. This friend, this confidant, should be his father.

You cannot afford to have your boy feel that you are too busy or too indifferent to tell him how to fly his kite or bait his hook or make a toy, or to play games with him.

If you begin early enough, it is comparatively easy for you to gain your boy's confidence. From infancy, he should grow up to feel that no one else can take your place; that you stand in a peculiar relation to him, which no one else can fill. Any businessman would be horrified at the suggestion that he would ruin his boy by neglect, that his absorption in business would result in the undoing of his own son. But, it is the easiest thing in the world to forfeit a boy's confidence. It will take only a little snubbing, a little scolding, a little indifference, a little unkind criticism, a little nagging and unreasonableness to shut off forever any intimacy between you and your boy.

One of the bitterest things in many a businessman's life has been the discovery, after he has made his money, that he has lost his hold upon his boy, and he would give a large part of his fortune to recover his loss.

I have been in homes where the relationship between father and sons was so strained and formal that the latter would no more think of making a confidant of their father than they would of a perfect stranger. They have been so rebuffed, snubbed, and scolded, so unkindly treated, that they would never think of going to him for advice, or with any confidential matters.

It is a most unfortunate thing for a boy to look upon his father as a task-master instead of a companion, to dread meeting him because he always expects criticism or scolding from him.

Some fathers constantly nag, find fault, and never think of praising their sons or expressing any appreciation of their work, even when they do it well. Yet there is nothing so encouraging to a boy, especially if he finds it hard to do what is right, as real appreciation of his effort. This is a tonic to youth. Boys thrive on praise. This is why most of them think more of their mothers than their fathers—because their mothers are more considerate, more appreciative, more affectionate, and do not hesitate to praise them when they do well. They are naturally more generous with them; less exacting than their fathers.

I know a man who takes a great deal of pains to keep the confidence of his pet dog. He would not think of whipping or scolding him because he would not risk losing his affection, but he is always scolding his boy, finding fault with everything he does, criticizing his conduct, his associates, and telling him that he will never amount to anything.

Now, what chance has a boy to grow, to develop the best thing in him, in such an atmosphere?

You should regard the confidential relation between yourself and your son as one of the most precious things in your life, and should never take chances of forfeiting it. It costs something to keep it, but, it is worth everything to you and to the boy. I never knew a boy to go very far wrong who regarded his father and mother as his best friends, and kept no secrets from them.

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