Of Parents and Children by Sir Francis Bacon | Summary and Analysis
“Of Parents and Children” is a suggestive essay, in which Sir Francis Bacon provides some suggestions, through which parents can bring up their children. There are some common practices related to children, which are being followed in every society and the author wants to rectify them. For instance, people think that children themselves should choose a profession as per their interest. Sir Francis Bacon Bacon thinks the opposite and says that instead, the parents should select a profession for their children. However, somewhere in the essay he just demonstrates reality. The essay has a relational and common subject matter. Bacon is a teacher in this essay and every parent can learn something from him. The author has also quoted some wise words to fortify his stance. In fact, it is a guide to those parents, who do not know how to bring up their children in a way that they can get success in future.
Griefs and Joys of Parents:
Children are the greatest gift of God but at the same time, they make parents’ condition miserable, considers Sir Francis Bacon. However, all the parents keep their joys as well as griefs secrete. He, epigrammatically, illustrates this situation in these words: “The joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears”. Parents work hard for their children and try to make them happy. They have hope that their children will live a life of content; therefore, parents enthusiastically struggle for them. On the other hand, they also fear their bad luck because it can impact the lives of children. Children are blessings of God but they increase the anxieties of parents, says Sir Francis Bacon. Nevertheless, the parents feel delighted while seeing their children with the hope that they would continue living their life through their children. Thus, children are source pleasure as well as grief.
Difference between Human and Animal Species (elaborated through examples):
Every species can continue living in this world through reproduction but there are some differences between humans and animal species. Humans have memory; they can make history and remember it. For example, ancient Roman and Greek History can still be found in libraries. Besides, humans are intellectual; they cannot swim but they can make submarines; they cannot fly but they can make airplanes. They have the ability to survive in every situation: whether by hook or by crook. Additionally, they are not only remembered because of reproduction but because of their good deeds. For instance, we still remember Homer because of his poem Iliad. Similarly, Aristotle is still known because of his knowledge. Indeed, there is a vast difference between human and animal species.
Bacon thinks that people who are married and have children cannot do noble deeds. They focus their attention on their family and children. Thus, Sir Francis Bacon calls children as a barrier for parents on the path of success.
Unequal affection of parents:
Some parents make a difference between their children. In many families, some children are more affectionate, whereas some are less. This kind of attitude of parents against their children is unjustified in the eyes of Sir Francis Bacon. He advises parents to love every child equally. Especially, the mother’s affection should be equal towards every child. He mentions legendary words of Solomon, who said: “A wise son rejoiceth the father, but an ungracious son shames the mother.” These words are true even today. When a child does something good, his father is praised but whenever he does a shameful act, his mother is alleged for his act. Besides, in most of the families, the youngest child and the eldest child are respected, whereas middle children are ignored. This common practice is also not acceptable; in most of the cases, middle children prove themselves best and bring fame to families.
Suggestions to parents:
Sir Francis Bacon has some suggestion for parents as well as for children. He recommends that parents should not fix pocket money of the children. If pocket money is too low then the child will try to learn every such method through which he can make money. He would start spending his time in a bad company, where he will learn new means of cheatings and earnings. Finally, he will become greedy and do anything to get a large sum of money. Hence, the attitude of parents should not be strict nor liberal especially in the matter of pocket money.
Parents should also not create competition between their children. Particularly, brothers should not be inspired to compete for each other. This method will increase hatred between both of them; they will become jealous and ultimately, they will consider each other enemies. Sir Francis Bacon in “Of Parents and Children” gives an example of Italians, who do not make any difference between the son and nephew. He encourages such kind of practices. Sometimes a nephew earns better respect for his uncle as compared to a real child.
Children cannot decide their future:
Some parents think that it is the duty of a child to choose a profession for himself. Bacon does not think that it is a right decision. Children cannot decide their future. They, in most of the cases, just have temptations; therefore, it is the duty of parents to show them the right path. Parents should select a profession for their children. However, in exceptional cases, a child may be allowed to decide. For instance, if he has strong feelings for a specific field, he may be allowed to adopt it. Nevertheless, the decision should be made as early as possible.
At last, Bacon illustrates his another experience. He says that the young children are fortunate. They are also good at making their careers. However, it is not true if they are going to inherit a lot of wealth.
Sir Francis Bacon has experienced the activities of children and parents. He does not favour anyone; instead, he tries to make a balance. He guides the parents through examples; he also quotes authentic words of ancient people. In simplest words, he convinces the parents to rectify their wrongdoings. Many epigrammatic sentences are also there in the essay. Whenever he makes a comparison between two things, he uses an epigrammatic sentence. However, they have no ambiguity; rather it clears doubts of readers. Philosophically, this essay is rich. Every advice of the author is applicable even in this era. Due to these qualities, the essay “Of Parents and Children” by Sir Francis Bacon gained eminence in every century.