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If you grow up believing in family always being there for you in case you fall, you will dare to climb higher. You will dare to reach for your goals AND stay on the path without the nervousness, hesitation, fear. That’s a wonderful gift to give someone, this safety net. To let them know that they have people to count on in times of trouble.

Yet why aren’t more families doing, this, raising children with Big Unconditional Love?

Instead, the path that is often chosen is to push children out before they are ready, teaching them to be tough by being tough on them, before sufficient investment is made in their emotional and mental welfares. This takes time, this laying of strong foundations, but then what’s the rush? Children have a whole lifetime ahead of them to read, to pass exams, to learn things. Life is not a race anyway. We all get there in our own sweet time, when the time that is right for us. I have known a few people who are high achievers superficially but who are unhappy nervous wrecks on the inside because the foundations of kindness, love and warmth are sorely missing.

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We raised our children to know that it is fine just to be you. You don’t have to be someone else even if you are weaker or slower than others. You are loved just as you are, so long as you try your best.

As a Catholic, I love this phrase from Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Does that mean you raise soft, unambitious kids by giving them so much love? Far from it. You raise kids who are grounded but with the wings to fly. You encourage them to climb high, with the knowledge that it is OK to fall and to come home.

And the best thing is, because they have had it so good, they reach a helping hand down to help others. That’s human nature. When life has been good to us, we share. And who better to give us a good start in life but our  own family?

That’s my son Kit helping his sister Kat onto a high boulder. Kat is scared of heights, but he patiently helped her up there so that she could see the possibilities. And for us, that is our parenting philosophy coming home to roost – our next generation continues with the values we hold dear. Love one another, look after each other, be kind always.

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