The Norman Transcript

Features

June 14, 2013

Pater familias

NORMAN — In our home the parents spoke many languages, including Latin. So, I studied Latin in high school and college to find out what the folks were keeping from the “little pitcher with big ears.” Then they switched to German because they knew my German had gotten rusty.

The term “pater familias” is Latin for “father of the family.” In Roman times the term meant that the father was the owner of the estate with power over every member of the family. In fact, an ancient right gave him the power of life and death over them. This particular power, according to Wikipedia, “was seldom exercised” and “was eventually limited by law.” Mighty good of them to pass such a law, otherwise the herd could have been indiscriminately thinned.

Traditionally, the “pater familias” was to “raise healthy children as future citizens of Rome, maintain the moral propriety and well-being of his household” and “be a good citizen.”

Except for the life and death part, the duties of a father have not changed much. He was respected, in some cases out of fear and in others out of love. It is unfortunate that today the respect afforded the “pater familias” is almost non-existent.

Just as with motherhood, fatherhood does not come with instructions tattooed on the baby’s bottom. And that’s a good thing. The posterior of an infant is not an ideal spot for instructions because the opportunities for getting more than just a gander at the “How To” side of a baby is fraught with odiferous and messy perils.

The whole parenthood thing is generally accomplished in the time-honored tradition of “flying by the seat of your pants.” Some people have a knack for parenting and others do not. For the most part, parents try their best to raise their little snot-nosed, and at times challenging, urchins to be civilized. However, what happens to said urchins when they go out into the big wide and uncivilized world is out of parental hands.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
  • Biting protocol for puppies

    Dear Dr. Fox: My puppy really likes to chew on my hand when I pet him. I am afraid he might get more aggressive when he gets older. His sharp teeth hurt, and sometimes he runs at me and jumps up to paw me. I push him away, but he comes ...

    April 17, 2014

  • Norman volunteer recognized for work at Veterans Corner

    Each week, we recognize a volunteer who makes that extra effort to assure that a veteran or surviving spouse receives VA benefits. Shirley Clark-Cowdin has been with us four years. During that time, she and her crew of ladies have helped ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Here is how reverse mortgages operate nowadays

    Dear Savvy Senior, What can you tell me about reverse mortgages? I was considering one last year, but now I hear they are more difficult to get....

    April 15, 2014

  • Annual Norman Iris Show set at library

    A tradition of the Norman Area Iris Society and Norman Public Library returns this spring with the annual Norman Iris Show from 1 to 4 p.m. April 27 in the Lowry Room of the library, 225 N. Webster Ave....

    April 15, 2014

  • Allan Oehlschlager, family celebrating 100-year milestone

    From Kansas City to Norman with stops in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Yale, Oklahoma City and Edmond — looking back as he prepared to mark his 100th birthday today, Allan Oehlschlager termed it a “glorious ride.” Born April 13, 1914, in ...

    April 13, 2014

  • Single parents to be honored

    Five Oklahoma single parents and two adult children of single parents will be honored with awards at the Single Parent Support Network black tie fundraiser, “An Enchanted Evening,” on April 29 at the Jim Thorpe Museum and Oklahoma Sports ...

    April 13, 2014

  • Dreams for the next 14 years

    On Monday I’ll be the proud aunt of a 14-year-old niece. For 14 years, I’ve had the chance to get used to her being 14 someday, and I’m still not there. Maybe in another 14 years, I’ll realize that she’s not a baby anymore....

    April 13, 2014

  • Midwest City reunions set

    Midwest City High School class reunions for 1970 to 1979 will be hosted in June at the Midwest City Community Center....

    April 13, 2014

  • Not typical boy behavior

    Q: My 18-year-old son and a slightly younger friend recently found some mice and decided to dispose of them. They drowned one and set the other one on fire. When I confronted my son for torturing animals, his response was “They’re just ...

    April 11, 2014

  • Readers respond to co-teaching issue

    We’ll say it again, we love our readers. Thanks to all of you who had comments about our column from the mom regarding her daughter in co-taught classes. We would like to remind you that our column is based solely on our experiences as ...

    April 11, 2014