How Roosevelt Made Peace With his Children

I received a letter from a father last winter, which I answered in one of my radio broadcasts, but it is so poignant and so important that I’m going to repeat it here.

"I have one of the finest boys in the world. He’s a boy scout, he’s good-looking and I’m proud of him. Yet I am losing his love.

My business keeps me away from home much of the time and while I’m away , I make all sorts of good resolutions. Then I come home, find he has done something wrong again, and I nag and bully and shout."

Aren’t you sorry, from the bottom of your heart, for a father with a problem like that? And don’t you think the solution lies within himself?

I felt that the best way for me to help him was to quote from a book by Earl Looker , "The White House Gang." Here is the story :

Young Quentin Roosevelt was a member of the White House Gang. One day the boys conceived the brilliant and agonizing feat of focusing mirrors to flash sunlight through the windows of the Army and Navy Building. A protest was sent to the President.

Did Theodore Roosevelt Rush out and yell: "What in the name of common sense are you doing? Do I have to drop the affairs of the nation to attend to you? Come upstairs this minute , and you just wait until I get through with you!"

No!! He called his personal aid, Captain Archie Butt, scribbled out a message and sent Butt downstairs with full instructions.

Captain Butt found the gang and said "Boys, they are going to signal something from the top of the war building…"

The War Building ! Signals! What boy could resist that? A moment later a figure appeared and with flags signaled: YOU, UNDER THE TREES, ALL OF YOU . ATTACK ON THIS BUILDING MUST IMMEDIATELY STOP. CLERKS CANNOT WORK. GOVERNMENT BUSINESSS INTERRUPTED. REPORT WITHOUT DELAY TO ME FOR YOU KNOW WHAT.

How could you help worshiping and respecting a father who had the imagination to treat you like that? The boys knew they were in for it. But their pride had been spared. They hadn’t been humiliated.

And when they had filed crestfallen into the Presidents Study, he still kept up the game. With an absolutely straight face he pretended to conduct military a court-martial and ultimately pronounced them guilty.

Let me get back to this letter from the man who wants to regain his son. If he had written this letter to Theodore Roosevelt, what do you think Roosevelt would have advised him?

Copyright, 1939, McNaught Syndicate

backhome.GIF (2398 bytes)
Back to T.R.
Centennial Site