I’m been thinking a whole lot lately about what we do and it’s impact on the future.
Two things have really sparked that in me.
Am I That Dave?
First, from seemingly out of nowhere, an old friend sent me this article he had written. At first, I was in disbelief. I understood that he sent me an article, but I didn’t quite understand why it was to me specifically. Even after he referenced this mysterious “Dave” in the article, I still had to ask if he was speaking about me.
Why? Something happened to me. My easiest guess is a life trauma stole massive memories from my youth and chucked them into some odd void in my brain. So as lovely of a story as this was, I simply had no recollection.
But I was so happy to hear it!
Which leads me to the next factor that’s been making me think a lot lately.
Kids Picking On Kids
I have four lovely kids… when they are separate from one another. They are sweet and fun and wonderful in so many different ways. But when they are all together in one space, a lot of difficulties arise. One of those difficulties is the older two relentlessly picking on one of the younger two.
I can’t express in words how painful this is to watch.
This is my precious little angel. And someone is hurting her. I don’t care about the source. Pain is pain, and I can’t stomach her having to endure any.
And despite massive efforts, the behavior persists.
Looking Back at the Past with Pride
One thing I’m trying to express to my children is that we want to look back at our pasts with pride. We want to be thankful we are one type of person and not another.
We’re all constantly watching movies and TV shows, and we all know who we’re rooting for. The one who defends against the bully is the hero. And we jump with glee when we see the bully finally get what he deserves.
What would you prefer? Do you want to be the kind of person who later on finds out you had an incredibly positive impact on the people around you? Do you want to find out that there are those whose lives were better because you were are part of them? Don’t you want to know that some people might literally owe you their lives?
Or do you want to hear that your relentless teasing damaged someone? Do you want to find out there are people in this world who would be better off if you didn’t exist, or continue to suffer to this day because of something you said or did in the past?
I can’t imagine there exist many people in the world who would choose the latter scenarios.
The Throes of Abuse
But yet when we’re in the throws of abusing others, especially when we’re too young to really grasp that a vast and complicated future exists out there, we just push on forward, doing whatever damage we do. Oblivious of the consequences. Just hoping to reap the reward of a few cheap chuckles here and there.
I am terrified of what an accounting of my life might look like. I would like to believe there are more stories out there like the one I shared from my high school friend. Yet I fear countless stories may exist where I, not unlike my children, hurt people without a care in the world, unthinkingly wrecking lives without losing a minute of sleep.
But my history and my regrets might just be the most powerful tools in my toolbox to get the point across to my children.
I want to impart to them constantly that their lives don’t end the moment they get home from school. There is a vast world that exists for them that will carry on seemingly forever. And you want your days to be filled with joy when you think about the past. And you want as few regrets as possible.
Children See Right in Front of Them
But kids have trouble seeing beyond what’s right in front of them. Adults often do too, but it’s much more intense with the young folk. A decade of teaching certainly drilled that point home for me. For the average child, tomorrow is way too theoretical of a concept. And if the mild pleasure of watching their sister overreact is staring at them, juxtaposed to a long away theoretical cloud of regret that is objectively far worse than the pleasure of the teasing, they very well might still choose the mild bliss of a few chuckles.
So I’m left playing the long game. Trying to plant beautiful seeds that will hopefully one day sprout into a profound understanding that will have an indelible impact on the lives of my children. And I’m loaded with hope that I can get my point across without losing control, and without undermining the good that I’m trying to accomplish.
What’s the Alternative?
I mean, what’s the alternative? There’s always screaming and punishing and carrying on like a crazy person.
It might create the appearance of effective parenting. But ultimately the bads will far outweigh the goods. I’ll just have a bunch of children who think I can’t control my temper, and because of the facade of effectiveness, it might become a vicious pattern that I won’t be able to break out of too easily.
And the lesson I’d be teaching my children: If you scream and carry on enough, you get what you want. When you’re trying to educate your kids to stop picking on a sibling and that actions have long-term consequences, I hardly think yelling to generate compliance is the way to get there.
But I’m stuck.
And I’m scared.
Raising Children is Terrifying
Raising children is the most terrifying gambling anyone could ever participate in. Any parent knows that panic. Will my child be healthy? Will they have a good childhood or will they suffer? There is so much outside of our control, but we know if we want to hold that precious, loving child in our arms, we need to risk the challenges. We need to fight past the fears.
But with contemplation the fears go so much deeper.
We all pray our children won’t be blind or have a terminal illness. How many of us pray our children will look back on their earliest days with pride?Raising children is the most terrifying gambling anyone could ever participate in. Click To Tweet