Wishes For Our Children
This is an excerpt from an essay I wrote last year for an art project about parenting philosophies, about how our actions as parents often veer far away from our values and ideals.
If you ask me about my parenting philosophy, I have a very simple answer: the goal of parenting should be independence, not achievement.
I believe we should try to raise children who are self-aware, confident, and have the skills to live independently as adults doing their part to make the world a better place. That’s it. If our children grow up and enter the world as adults, knowing and loving themselves, with the skills to live on their own, and oriented towards doing good in this world, what more can we ask for?
But my actions don’t always live up to my ideals. For example:
- I detest modern day youth sports (too intense, too much commitment, not enough joy), yet I have a kid signed up for lacrosse, soccer, and tennis all in a single season. I exchange knowing looks with the other parents on the sidelines and we complain about overscheduling our kids, yet there we are, as if we have no choice in the matter.
- I know deep down in my soul it’s way more important for a kid to develop good learning habits and learn to love learning than to get perfect grades. So why am I disappointed when my kid who loves learning and is fully engaged at school comes home with Bs?
A common meditation practice is to observe thoughts without judgment. I sit in my mindfulness practice and think about the gap between my intentions and my actions, the life I want and the life I live, the things I can control and the things I cannot. I don’t judge, I observe and accept. And then I recommit my intentions for myself, for my family, for the life I want to live.
Social Art Concept
Don’t all parents have wishes for their children? As you live your life, how far do you veer from these wishes? As your child grows from infancy, to toddler, school age, and through adolescence, as they change from a blank slate and form to be the adults they were destined to become, do you revisit your wishes? When life gets chaotic, stressful, manic, depressed or quiet, how will you remember your wishes for your children?
I am interested in continuing to examine the gap between dreams and reality in our shared attempt to create a better future for our children and I’m figuring out how to represent this through art. I invite you to participate. If this topic inspires you or you want to collaborate, please share your thoughts in the comments, or connect with me on twitter or farcaster.