Take a good look at your child. Just close your eyes for one moment and think about what he means to you. Think about his arms wrapped tightly round your neck. Think about his baby smell. Think about her little quirks, the funny things she says to you in her baby-talk. Think about her crying for you, searching for you, turning to you, for comfort and reassurance. Think about how you would literally sacrifice your life for hers.

These are three of my five children.

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I love them and their two other siblings with a fierceness that I never knew before I became a parent.  They are my whole life. I would gladly sacrifice mine for them. When they hurt, I hurt more. I think all parents feel their children’s pain more acutely than their children do.  Kit (the one with spiky hair) was  in and out of hospital casualty departments a lot when he was growing up because he was always climbing up trees and ledges and high tables, zooming around in his tricycle and getting into boisterous mischief generally. Believe you me, all my pain senses were permanently on fire in those days!  As for Jack, my baby, his fear and uncertainly of the world that he found difficult to understand and people who were not always kind to him hurt me more than anything. I often wished I could keep him by my side always.

I have no doubt every parent feels the same and wish we could always be there to take care of our children.

My parents are in their eighties and their health are failing. Yet whenever I am home, they bustled around me like a pair of mother hens. Though they are not wealthy, we are blessed that we have enough resources for this generation and beyond to live comfortably …. and on that premise, my parents had never aspired for me to find a rich husband but just a decent, strong and kind man to look after their little Princess when they are no longer able to.

And here’s the thing: are WE raising that decent, strong and kind princes and warrior-princesses who knows how to look after their spouse? Or are we too busy teaching our children just to look after themselves, to be the hotshot professional, to ‘be successful’? Whilst we send them to language courses, extracurricular activities and enrichment classes, are we teaching them how to be decent, strong and kind householders?

If not, who will?

You know what, numbers have to balance out.  If everybody is teaching their children to take care of Number 1, who will provide the softness, the nurturing and the care for your Number 1?

And here’s the piece: when you raise your child to care for another human being, he or she learns to take care of himself/herself too. He or she learns how to give, how to make sacrifices, how to go downstairs and fetch their tired partner a cup of tea without being asked.

Moreover, a man or a woman who knows the art of taking care of others will attract partners of similar skillset to build a healthy, balanced life with, rather than falling into a User/Used relationship which is ultimately damaging, abusive and demeaning.

My children’s father can’t cook, won’t cook, and is lousy with housework.  However, he redeems himself by the cups of tea that he brings me just when I need them most.  He seems to know just when I could do with a cuppa. For me, that is good enough: he does not have to do 50% of the housework.

I strongly believe that it starts with teaching children, first and foremost, that we need other people to make our lives joyful, fulfilling and worth living, and secondly, the world does not owe us a living.  Every good thing we have had the good fortune to enjoy came about by the grace of someone, and that gratitude for that gift should be expressed through being kind and considerate to others who make our lives good and beautiful.

This notion is both simple yet mind-boggling, but one thing that life’s experience has taught me, it is never a good thing to raise a selfish adult who does not know the art of caring for other human beings. The world is a very lonely place without selfless giving, if one lives like Dr Seuss’s Grinch in proverbial emotional isolation.

Growing, moving and reproducing are life’s basic processes and to enable that to happen, living organisms need to take from the environment and others.  The concept of 100% self sufficiency does not exist. Thus, teach your child to give back what he takes rather than be a parasite. The giving does not have to be monetary or even physical – caring for one another is the most ubiquitous human currency of all.

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The female doesn’t want a rich man or a handsome man or even a poet, she wants a man who understands her eyes if she gets sad, and points to his chest and say : “Here is your home country.”
Nizar Qabbani

 

Related post: Growing Kind Adults