Look, thankfully, we’re at a place where most people don’t need to hear this anymore, but unfortunately, some people do. Maybe they’re reading this email. Maybe they’re not. But it’s worth laying it down again, it’s worth a reminder of what you’ve been entrusted with—what being a father means.
Cato the Elder, we’re told by Plutarch, “used to say that a man who beats his wife or a child is laying sacrilegious hands on the most sacred thing in the world.”
Boom. It doesn’t matter how angry you are. It doesn’t matter who started it. It doesn’t matter how many times you told your son. It doesn’t matter that your parents used to do it. It doesn’t matter that some cultures still accept it.
For two thousand years, we’ve known it: It’s wrong. To raise your hands, open or closed, at your spouse or your children is unacceptable. You are here to protect and to serve and to love them. To violate that obligation because you can’t control yourself in the moment, because you’re mad? This is to violate a sacred thing. And once done, it can never be undone.
Let us add to that, too—since our goal as fathers is higher than most people’s. To say something cruel, to wound with your word, is abuse too. It is to befoul a sacred thing. It is to do violence in an equally damaging way.
You cannot do it. Ever. Ever.