The images of children heading back to school fill social media. Parents fighting back tears are dropping off their babies at preschool and kindergarten for the first time. Their bravery only lasts until the door to the classroom closes. As odd as it sounds, those are the children of my generation. I am happy to report that none of those children are mine, but I must say I am proud of you guys.
Now, as you can tell from the sly comment above, I am not a parent. I have no real desire to be one. In fact, I still find myself in awe of those who do. Given my position, I would never pretend to know what it means to be an actual parent. I would also never pretend that you should listen to my advice on how you should raise your children. Each of you is undertaking the most thankless and tiresome job on the planet. You are planting seeds; seeds you will never see fully come to fruition. The decisions you make now, both minor and large, will impact them for the rest of their lives. That is a heavy burden to bear. It is worthy of congratulations, a tip of the hat and a beer (if I could afford to buy you all one). Again, I am proud of you guys.
The next generation, your children, will have the responsibility to correct the mistakes of those who came before them. We are now in our 30’s and we won’t finish everything we should. We won’t end poverty. We won’t significantly cut carbon. We may not cure cancer. We won’t see the end of racism and prejudice. We won’t create utopia. We will not cure all of society’s ills. We have so much work to do and the truth of the matter is we won’t get to it all. The next generation will be handed what we leave undone. The decisions you make today will ensure whether or not they are ready for the challenge.
So, a piece of advice from a non-parent as you send those little ones off to school… Encourage their curiosity. Allow them to wonder about space and time. Allow them to fail. Failure is such a wonderful teacher. Protect them less and less every day. Respect them more and more every day. Allow them to make mistakes. Teach them actions, good and bad, have consequences. Teach them life isn’t fair, but it should be. Teach them about fairness. Allow them to learn from people who life has treated unfairly. Some of the most impactful people I have ever met were people who were down on their luck. Teach them to lift each other up. Teach them to turn the other cheek. Teach them tolerance. Allow your kids to play and meet people different from their own family. Play. Foster imagination and creativity. Teach them man’s greatest asset is unconditional love. Love them. Love them when they succeed. Love them ever more when they disappoint you. Love them.
Soon, we will pass the burden of caring for each other and this place we call home onto the next generation. As we do, let’s prepare them for success. Let’s do the things our parents did for us and let’s perfect the things they didn’t. To do so, is our greatest responsibility.
Thanks for entering my world,