To start, a metaphor: In this life, individual lessons sit beneath strategic obstacles spiked like minefields on our racecourses. We have to hurdle over obstacles as we speed forward through space, careful to completely clear them, seeking them out in our peripherals, then rearviews. We collect the lessons like video game coins.
As parents, we hope that our children will mature to enact similar vaulting, as we cannot run their races for them.
There are so many life lessons that we want to teach our children that it’s unrealistic to believe that we can get to all of them, as those pedagogies will inevitably multiply as we all age. Additionally, there’s the trend of time and the unawareness of how much of it we have left. Most parents want to shield their children from the worst of hurts and horrors, which places us in good, well-intended company. However looming the nature of impossibility in these doctrines, there remains foundational guidelines that set precedent. In the handful that my family roots for, these are the things we plan to promote; the kids absorb something and we extract something as new parents.
About the Golden Rule
The classic remains: “Treat others as you wish to be treated.” The armhole in that saying is that, sometimes, low self-esteem keeps us from recognizing or valuing our worth at a given moment. Thus, a much lower threshold and expectation of treatment can emerge. By nature, consistent affections can waver while “respect” is subjective.
I would modify the Golden Rule: “Treat others with a kind compassion. If they cannot return it, retreat your friendship. Don’t allow others to make you feel bad.”
In this, the kids will have to explore what quality friendship looks like and why someone may balk against their pretty brown skin tones. We will witness the eventual broken heart and desperately-confused questioning.
A hurdle for them; a hurdle for us.
Ambition + work ethic
Strong ambition needs strong work ethic. Strong work ethic needs strong ambition. On one end, this maxim the difference between building a perfect dream and lacking the drive to bring it to fruition. It’s a dying plant with no water. On the other end, it’s commonly seen in working oneself into the ground, stalling in forward mobility, spinning tires in a circle, drilling definitively downward into the same standing spot. It’s the equivalent of speeding along on a rat wheel, running, but never really moving.
In this lesson, the kids learn what constitutes a dream worth watering and the realism in the structuring, then figuring out the best approaches in balancing work and life. We’ll discourage apathy and encourage faith; we’ll explore options as a family and, together, take different, humbled roads.
A hurdle for them; a hurdle for us.
The gift of morality
Decency is a dish best served warm, with a garnish on the side. Daddy and mommy operate a small business on a solid platform of optimal customer service. Without our clients and our employees, we have no business. The kids will understand this soon: Decency is the barest minimum for us, but placed at the highest expectation; we treat janitors as we do CEOs. People deserve a friendliness that is rapidly declining. People deserve a sincere ear from an advocate for service. Some of the happiest citizens on our planet attract the best karma because they genuinely value others’ time, energy, resources, and talents.
In adapting this lesson, our children discover humility and humanity, thoughtfulness and goodness. We plan to surround them with role models who embody these qualities, who work to “talk the talk.” They may not be able to relate to the importance of giving and community and embrace while still so young, but they will one day, maybe as parents themselves, particularly when we have gone on to glory and have left millions of miles of these lessons, with knocked-down barriers, as our legacy.
A hurdle for our children; a hurdle for their parents.