“How Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth It Is To Have A Thankless Child!”


What’s going on here? All of a sudden we are seeing children turn on their conservative public servant parents in public. (That’s Oedipus with the spear, incidentally.)

  • Kellyanne Conway’s 15-year-old daughter  Claudia has been posting videos on Tik Tok, berating her mother for working for  President Trump while attacking her boss. This  disrespect is an order of magnitude worse than what Conway tolerates from her despicable husband George. I can’t conceive of the path whereby any child would acquire the idea that it was ethical or anything worse that gross breach of the family bonds to publicly attack a parent or her employer.

[To the commenter who sent me this, thanks! I lost the original email...]

  • Meanwhile, Mary Trump, the President’s niece, is trying to get a tell-all book about her uncle published in time to slime him during the election, allegedly violating a non-disclosure agreement. Maybe it’s because I was raised by a Greek mother and grandmother, but I can not imagine attacking a family member like that, no matter what I thought of him. Unless an uncle was a secret serial killer or a spy, this is on the absolutism side of the ethics spectrum for me.

I feel only slightly less revolted by John Bolton and his book. Such cash-in books are despicable; the authors are despicable as well. Those who seek to profit by harming those who trusted them should not be hired, or relied upon in any context, by anyone.

  • Then there is Stephanie Regan, the daughter of Republican state House candidate Robert Regan. She tweeted, “If you’re in Michigan and 18+ pls for the love of god do not vote for my dad for state rep. Tell everyone.” later, Stephanie wrote  that voters should  research his views,  saying,  “I don’t feel safe in sharing further information regarding his beliefs, but please look him up and just read for yourself.”

Her father posted a long response on Facebook, professing to be “happy that she feels confident enough in our relationship to express her opposing thoughts so publicly.” That would be enough for me to vote against him. He didn’t raise his daughter to respect her parents, he did a poor job teaching her ethical values like trust, loyalty and gratitude,  and he’s a weenie.

His daughter, meanwhile, is a fool. I would no more hire or collaborate with someone who would do that to her father than  get a rattlesnake as a pet.

The title, as most of you know, and all of you should know (I feel another cultural literacy quiz coming on) is spoken by King Lear in Act 1, Scene 4 of the Shakespearean tragedy. The old monarch says this shortly before he makes the fateful and ultimately fatal decision to disown his younger daughter, the loving Cordelia, in favor of her two psychopathic older sisters, Regan and Goneril.

If you haven’t read “King Lear”—the annotated version is great–you should. The play may be the most brilliant, many-layered works of English literature ever written. Studying the play as I prepared to direct it long ago, I was repeatedly stunned by its perceptiveness and the complexity of the ideas underlying the drama. I could not imagine that any human being was smart enough and had the life experiences to possess such wisdom.

Indeed, I told my wife that I had solved the “Who was Shakespeare?” mystery. Based on “King Lear,” he must have been an alien visitor from space.

And yes, the playwright, whoever or whatever he was, understood ethics and all its complexities beautifully.

16 thoughts on ““How Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth It Is To Have A Thankless Child!”

  1. Mr MacGregor, My Heart’s in the Highlands, could no doubt answer all your questions about King Lear while playing his horn.

    • Funny, I read the comment and thought, “Wow! Someone knows about “My Heart’s in the Highlands!”…then I saw it was you. Brings back so many memories. Thank you.

  2. I agree that it is primarily the fault of the parent to have raised a child who behaves this way. Is there the occasional rogue child who goes his own way despite the best parenting in the world? Of course, but they are typically psychopaths; not entitled little shits that throw their own parents under the bus.

    • Wasn’t it the way of Facism and Communism to turn the children into the “purists” for their ideology and then get them to turn on their parents? So often parents say their rogue child “got in with the wrong crowd” and rarely stop to consider that their children, like the ones Jack highlighted in this piece, are in fact THE wrong crowd.

  3. Circa 1990, a friend called me saying, “Jim, I have been looking all day trying to find that Bible verse about ‘How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it Is to have a thankless child!’ Can you tell me where that is found?”
    I answered “King Lear, Chapter 1, Verse 4.” (actually Act 1, Scene 4)
    After a moment of silence he said, “Oh.” and hung up the phone. He avoided me for days!

  4. Leftism is the new religion. A new dogma. Just like Christianity once was.
    “If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life!…”

    • I was going to make a similar comment. I believe that parents wanting to be friends rather than parents share some culpability along with leftist dogma.

      The parents set the stage for the academics and/or progressive voices to take root. I think in many ways these kids are actually looking for some discipline in their lives and use oppositional viewpoints as a means to achieve parental boundary setting. When boundaries are flexible they push further to get the type of attention they need and crave. Remember how many girls chased the bad boy to get daddies ire up. Same concept just a different type of bad boy.

      • I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. Parents could be BOTH friends and Parents.
        And I think there’s more to it than just irresponsible parenting. There’s something about the indoctrination that fills people with so much hate against dissenters.
        Hate that extends even to their families.
        Plus there’s the online mob ready with the likes and retweets to give you the required dopamine release…

        • I am a mother to three adult children. I am also a newly minted grandmother. I am not my children’s friend. I might be their biggest champion, but I am not their friend. My role as their mother changes as they come into their own. My role changes as my daughter learns to now parent her own child. I am uncomfortable with the idea of being a friend to my children. My role as a parent may morph over time, but one thing I am not is their contemporary.

          • Does friendship require contemporaneity?
            Is it not possible for friendship to be subsumed under parenthood as maybe one of the pillars of the relationship between parent and child?

  5. I’ve been reading “Lear” lately. I’m having a hard time thinking of it as anything more than a terribly accurate portrait of pretty acute dementia. The jester is also driving me nuts.

    • You are reading the classics, thereby elevating your mind and soul. I, philistine that I am, am reading “Shakespeare for Squirrels” By Christopher Moore, which is loosely based on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Just started it but I suspect it will devolve into mayhem fairly quickly.

      • John, I consider “Dream” a fluff piece, but it’s been nearly fifty years since I, then a college kid, saw it produced in London. My favorite Shakespeare remains the relationship between Fallstaff and Hal. (How the hell did Hal Prince every get away with that name? And he was in the theater business!) We also saw Diana Rigg in “Macbeth” at The Old Vic. And Maggie Smith and John Gielgud in something or other. All under the aegis of a small college that is being torn asunder by BLM extortionists and useful idiots.

        • And we saw Albert Finney make something of “Krapp’s Last Tape.” I’m not at all sure what though. It’s a really crappy, hopelessly romantic, to the point of being saccharine, play, in my book.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.