As a parent I want to protect my children. I want to shield them from hatred and cruelty and the kind of rage that leads people to abandon their principles in favor of power. I want them to make mistakes, dust themselves off, learn from them and not be crushed by them. I want to protect them from self-hatred. I want to protect them from pain. I don’t want them to suffer.
I want them to flourish. I want them to know happiness, and the beauty of falling in love. I want them to know the immeasurable joy friendship brings. I want them to feel that indescribably delicious sensation of doing something for another human being, not because it’s expected, or because they’ve been asked to, or because they will be thanked or appreciated, or because they expect anything in return, but because it’s “right” to do so. I want them to understand, truly understand what it feels like to believe in themselves, to feel good about who they are and what they can accomplish in this life. And I want them to realize the connection between giving and generosity and having self-respect.
I want them to have options in life. I want them to have the space, energy and luxury to find the things that captivate them, and I want them to be able to follow those interests. I want them to know that when they are fearful, they will not be consumed by it. I want them to be secure enough to stand up for themselves, to push back, to say no when they see others doing things they disagree with. I want them to have that option. I want them to feel the joy of being consumed by an interest. I want them to know what it is like to be in this world and to feel safe, that wherever they are, they are not alone.
I want them to know they are loved and cherished. I want them to know they are unique and yet the same as everyone else. They are not superior, nor are the inferior, they are one of many, yet each has something special to contribute to mankind and this world. As a child, we used to go camping and my father would instruct us to pick up any trash we found. We would strenuously object. “Why do we have to pick up other people’s trash? I didn’t leave this garbage here!” And he would always say the same thing, “We leave a place better than we found it.”
This is what I want for my children.
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”