Sunday, August 2, 2009


I have already received many thought provoking questions, from the philosophical to the extremely light-hearted, however the following question really touched me. I might not have children yet, but this is subject I have been thinking about since I was a child. For those who don't have children of their own, you can always think of this in terms of any child you are close to. Possibly a student, niece/nephew, child of a friend, etc.

Dear Danielle,

If I were to die tomorrow what would be the most important thing
I've left for my children?

Sincerely, "Dad Down Under"

Dear "Dad Down Under,"

The fact that you wrote in this question indicates that you are concerned with leaving a positive legacy for your children. The following concepts cannot be fulfilled by sitting down and having one heart to heart conversation with your child. They can only be achieved by incorporating these priciples into everyday dialogue and interaction, which may be challenging for those who were not raised themselves with these values. However, it is never to late to start teaching children how to be the best human beings possible.

1. Every child should feel like the most loved and most beautiful person out there. Of course this must be met with lessons of humility. Life will provide every individual with plenty of situations that inforce concepts of humility and even ego degeneration. However, a parent uniquely can offer their child the ladder to climb upwards and view the world from a position of strength and confidance. To believe that one can "be anything" and "do anything" ensures that during adolescence and adulthood an individual does not accept abusive or even demeaning treatment. By instilling in your child the sense of not only their worth but also their potential, they will less likely find themselves in an abusive relationship or a job they are miserable in. If a child thinks they deserve the best (not in a spoiled materialistic way - but in a standard of a happy lifestyle) than they will protect themselves more likely from dangerous or harmful situations for the soul and spirit.

2. It is just as important for children to understand their role as part of a family legacy and a community/society than it is for a child's individual ego to be developed in a healthy way (as highlighted above). Children need to learn that we are individuals responsible for our own well being, as well as members of a society responsible for broader worldly or communal progress. We must teach children that it is not enough to be selfish or even view life as a day to day personal pursuit. Rather, having long term goals and thinking of the welfare of others and the world is critical in a successful life. Simply, children need to understand they are an important link in a chain of humanity and the actions they take can either further or disrupt this chain. This principle could be applied to many facets of existence:
-Ensuring religious practice/ritual is passed down to your children
-Avoiding a sense of political apathetic-ness amongst your children
-Communicating the value for passing on specific family traditions and values

3. Children need to learn from their mistakes while they are young and realize that self-improvement and emotional/spritual awareness is key in a lifelong pursuit of self improvement. Teach your children that every new day presents an opportunity to be a better person. "If you wont be better tomorrow than you are today, then what need do you have for tomorrow?" - R. Nachman of Breslov

4. We live in a consumer culture so teach your child how to acquire. The type of acquisition I am referring to relates not to material possessions but how to overall acquire the quality of life they desire. This includes, how to make loyal, emotionally intelligent and successful friends and how to find a life partner that is worthy of them and challenges/uplifts them. A child can learn how to "acquire" the right lifestyle for themselves by understanding that quality friendships and relationships are sought out, cultivated and hard work is taken to maintain them. Just because your child has been friends with the same child since pre-school doesn't mean they should learn to stay in a friendship that is possibly a bad influence, or stay with a boyfriend that doesn't show them affection. Essentially, an ideal lifestyle can be achieved if one seeks out the type of people they want to associate with and build the type of social framework and/or community that fits their values. (I will be writing a future blog just on this subject matter.)

1 comment:

  1. To Dear Danielle,

    Wow, I am blown away. This was quite a tour-de-force. I think you are dead-on with your commentary, and I especially liked your unique twist on teaching kids how to "acquire". You turn the tables on what we usually think of acquiring (as a staple of consumer culture), and instead you really advocate teaching a child how to watch out for themselves, and seek out others with equally positive, reaffirming, and shared value systems. While I believe that many of my most important relationships did not result from a concerted and thoughtful seeking out of the "right types of people", I still think it is very important to teach a child an understanding of how to seek out healthy relationships. It's something that many parents perhaps take for granted, that their children will automatically be able to make the right kind of healthy and positive friendships? Just like any other skill set, it's a good skill to be able to find positively reinforcing relationships instead of negative ones.

    You are quite the advice columnist!

    with love,

    your Man,