Child and Man
Understanding the meaning of the child is father of the man The proverb means that the conduct of a child indicates what kind of man he will be in his future life. It is said that childhood shows the man as morning shows the day. If the morning is fair, the day is expected to be fair. If the child shows signs of good character it is expected that he will be a good man in future. Habits of childhood form the character of the grown-up man.
Of course, education and environment have some influence in shaping a man’s character; but they do not entirely change his natural bent of mind. It is, therefore, very important to watch the natural bent of mind of a child. If it is good, it should be allowed to grow properly in the right way. Sometimes a child shows a natural bent of science. If he is properly directed, he will in future be a successful man of science. Hence career masters now test the aptitude of a child so that he may be correctly guided and have a successful career in life.
Again as the conduct of a child greatly shapes the character of a grown-up man, it should be the duty of the parents to see that a child acquires no bad habit. It is very difficult to shake off the habits of childhood. A child has got a very impressionable mind. Good or bad, as it may be, that impression last long. A child should therefore be brought up in good environment. He should not be allowed to mix with evil company. He wrote it with regard to the experiences of the three stages of development in a man’s life- childhood, youth, and old age.
It was Wordsworth’s observation that what we experience as children makes us the people we are when we are older. Childhood is the most critical and important part in a person’s development. The Jesuits used to believe that the first seven years of a person’s life are his most absorbing years. If the right seeds are sown in these seven years the harvest would be predetermined. By the time a child reaches the age of seven, his character is largely set and he begins to show glimpses of the man he is going to be.
A child is spontaneous and unselfish in sharing his love and it is this that makes the transition to full adulthood achievable. Yet the intermittent chapter of adolescence often sees the tendency of the love to be overshadowed by the swift augmentation of the adolescent intellect, and this imbalance of mind and heart often is the reason for the pains of adolescence. However the qualities of the adult that eventually surface in us are a large reflection of our earliest, unselfish, outwardly reaching love which is later fortified by our knowledge and experience.
The child is the seed from which will grow forth the adult man. There are other contexts in which this quotation is used. It can also mean that we try to teach our children all that we have learned but somewhere down the line our children teach us things that we have forgotten. They teach us to smile, to laugh, to love and to forgive; simple spontaneous things that we have forgotten leading our busy lives. Another line of thought is that today’s children will be the fathers of tomorrow’s men.
What we inculcate in our children’s minds today will be passed onto the future generations. A handful of today’s youngsters will be presidents, inventors, philosophers, scientists and they will rule the world. This lot will make decisions that affect the lives of generations yet to come and they will be called the “fathers of men”. The flip side of this quotation is that a man’s children are often his Achilles heel. While he may not bow to anyone else, often in the face of persuasion from his children, he will succumb leading one to believe that the child is the father of man.
Yet another flip side to this quotation is that when man grows old he begins to behave like a child. He wants to do things that the doctor hasn’t prescribed, he craves attention and often throws up tantrums like an infant making one believe that truly child is the father of man. There are some who believe that there is a karmic intonation in this quotation. What we do in our present lives affects our future lives. Child represents our present and man represents our future lives.
So the conclusion is drawn that child is the father of man meaning our present creates our future. Child Is the Father of Man This paradoxical line of Wordsworth expresses a profound truth. It means that all the qualities, mental, moral and physical, which will be found in the future man are potentially present in the child. Just as the future tree preexists in the sprout, the future man pre-exists in the child. Childhood is the most impressionable period of a man’s life. It is a period when his essential character is being shaped.
The qualities which a child inherits from his parents, combined with those which he develops as a result of his upbringing, begin to manifest themselves in the early years. Bearing this fact in mind, parents and teachers should try to mould the character of children, taking care of their health and surrounding them with good influences. According to modern psychology, the experiences of childhood have a lasting influence. Some of these experiences lie buried in the deeper mind of the grown-up man and influence his behaviour without his knowledge.
Several examples bear out the truth of the remark that the child is father of the man. Napoleon as a boy was fond of building forts of snow and storming or defending them, thus foreshadowing his later remarkable achievement as a General. When Nelson was a child he was once asked if he had no fear. He replied” Fear! What is it? I never knew fear. ” This child was destined to become the courageous hero of Trafalgar. Shivaji as a boy showed a keen interest in politics and was fond of hearing stories from the Indian epics.
Macaulay who is famous for his astonishing memory read a lot even as a schoolboy, and remembered all that he had read. That is why in his writings he frequently uses the expression “As every school boy knows”-which makes us uneasy because we do not know what this schoolboy knows. There are, of course, exceptions. Some men of genius do not seem to have given early indications of their future greatness. Many English poets like Wordsworth and Shelley were pronounced dunces at school.