My Dear Patsy,
After four days’ journey, I arrived here without any accident, and in as good health as when I left Philadelphia. The conviction that you would be more improved in the situation I have placed you than if still with me, has solaced me on my parting with you, which my love for you had rendered a difficult thing. The acquirements which I hope you will make under the tutors I have provided for you will render you more worthy of my love; and if they cannot increase it, they will prevent its diminution….
I have placed my happiness on seeing you good and accomplished, and no distress which this world can now bring on me could equal that of your disappointing my hopes. If you love me then, strive to be good under every situation and to all living creatures, and to acquire those accomplishments which I have put in your power, and which will go far towards ensuring you the warmest love of your affectionate father.
My Dear Son,
Tis almost four months since you left your native land and embarked upon the mighty waters in quest of a foreign country. Altho [sic] I have not perticuliarly [sic] wrote to you since yet you may be assured you have constantly been upon my heart and mind.
… remember that you are accountable to your maker for all your words and actions. Let me injoin [sic] it upon you to attend constantly and steadfastly to the precepts and instructions of your father as you value the happiness of your mother and your own welfare. …, for dear as you are to me, I had much rather you should have found your grave in the ocean you have crossed, or any untimely death crop you in your infant years, rather than see you an immoral profligate or a graceless child.
Yet you must keep a strict guard upon yourself, or the odious monster [i.e., vice] will soon loose its terror, by becoming familiar to you.
You can have a serious life or a nonserious life, Teddy. I’ll still love you whichever choice you make. But if you decide to have a nonserious life, I won’t have much time for you. You make up your own mind. There are too many children here who are doing things that are interesting for me to do much with you.
Of course, it is possible for child to be both promotion and prevention-focused, allowing them to be creative and analytical, good at seizing opportunities and careful planning. Taking a page from both Jefferson and Adams is probably the best approach, though you might want to lighten it up a little. The watery grave part seems, in retrospect, a bit much.Which focus is better? The answer is, neither. Promotion and prevention focus have different strengths and weaknesses, and they can both lead to the enjoyment of successful, satisfying lives. Really, all good parenting has trade-offs. There is no particular kind of parenting that yields for children “all the benefits, and nothing but the benefits.”