a street art picture of a boyish child

Short Story: A well-raised child governs itself

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a 90-year-old man. We talked about his dad, who was in the military and fought in World War II.

The man told me that his father instilled discipline in him, but without force.

One time he came home around midnight when his father had asked him to come home before eleven. He silently snuck into the house, got undressed, when he found his father standing in the doorway.

The father said: “Son, I asked you to come back at eleven and now it’s twelve. Tomorrow I have to get up at five, so now I don’t get the sleep I need. So I want to ask you, can you next time come home at eleven?”

The son said “yes” to his father’s request.

The son, now a 90-year-old man, explained: “My father said this in a respectful way, not in an angry way. Because he did it this way I wanted to respect him and take responsibility for my life.”

I heard this man’s story and I was feeling so inspired by this man’s father. I was quiet for a while. Then I asked him:

“He must have had some kind of philosophy, your father. Did he ever talk about that?”

“Yes,” he replied. “My father regularly told me: a well-raised child governs itself.”

Wow. Just wow.