Tantrumism by S. M. Hutchens

Quodlibet

Tantrumism 

by S. M. Hutchens

Young children are natural "expressivists"—perhaps one could also call them "tantrumists"—before they are broken (like horses) by responsible parents who demonstrate their love by teaching them (forcibly, for foolishness is bound in the heart of a child) the superiority of the mind to the viscera and by insisting on consistent reasonableness. One of the most interesting features of parenthood is observing how each child reacts to this insistence, and one of the best services a parent can perform for his child is to relieve him of excessive pain in life by teaching him the futility of resistance, and with it the lifelong comfort of a reasoned existence. I was blessed with two daughters who were quick learners, and so therefore also with a happy and peaceful home.

The challenge a reasoned child must face once he leaves the parents' home is to resist abusing the higher faculty in which he has been established—essentially a reprise of his original struggle, but one in which a developed reason may now be used to justify the old splanchnic urges, especially the will to power. Failure here gives life to the old maxim corruptio optimi pessima, which Lewis expressed in his observation, "it's not out of bad mice or bad fleas you make demons, but out of bad archangels," and which Tolkien expressed by making Sauron a fallen member of the Maiar. The greatest mortal enemies Christians therefore face are not in the media (fleas), or even in the universities (mice), but among those who speak as masters from within the Church itself.

I think, perhaps, this should be added: One does not "go at" one's children with the intent of "breaking" them, but that is what it looks like, especially to the excessively tenderhearted, when the necessary correctives—no more and no less—are applied. The husbandry of children and the taming of the higher animals do contain some irresistible analogies.

S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!

Online
Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.


more on family from the online archives

24.4—July/August 2011

Global Power Grab

The Cultural Marxists’ Strategic Assault on Religion, Life & Family by Patrick F. Fagan

23.1—January/February 2010

The Audacity of the State

It’s Bent on Bringing Down the House on the Family & the Church by Douglas Farrow

34.1—January/February 2021

Whose Wife Shall She Be?

Jesus' Astonishing Other Teaching on Marriage by James Ware


more from the online archives

31.1—January/February 2018

Vikings Under the Son

on Ragnarök, an Extreme Weather Event & the Paths to Conversion by Timothy J. Burbery

33.4—July/August 2020

Dwelling in Unity

Our Views on the President Are Not Crucial by S. M. Hutchens

14.1—January/February 2001

Fatherhood Uprooted

A Sociologist Looks at Fatherlessness & Its Causes by David Blankenhorn

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

00