“I came here to save my wife and my two children… 6 billion people… it’s too much. I just hope I’m smart enough and brave enough to save three.” - Dr. Serge Leveque, “The Core”
Alright, before you science fiction die-hards rake me over the coals for quoting “The Core,” yes, I agree, it isn’t a great movie. I didn’t so much watch it as have it inflicted on me (I’ve long since forgiven my “friends” who made me watch it.).
My point in bringing up this quote is that it’s stuck with me for years. What is it about the quote that’s made you remember it for all this time? For me, it’s simple, and perhaps the quote might open your eyes to some things in your own lives.
What are the goals you have for your parenting? Sure, you’ve read parenting books. You’ve scoured the internet for parenting quotes, some pithy little parenting meme that will be the “magic bullet” that will make everything fall into place.
You’ve considered your parenting style, whether you’re going to be the “cool parent,” the “disciplinarian,” or whatever nickname for a parenting style is currently en vogue
(On a side note, does anyone remember En Vogue? If not, free your mind or you’re never gonna get it. OK, back to our regularly scheduled programming.)
So like I said, you’ve read parenting blogs, read parenting articles, and perhaps even taken some sort of parenting courses.
But to what end? What are your parenting goals? When your children leave your house and go out on their own, how do you want them to function in the real world?
Here’s where the second part of the title of this article comes into play. Surely you’ve attended high school graduations; many of us have attended multiple graduations, over the years.
Now, I’m going to show you my cold reading skills and tell you what you experienced at these events. You’ve dutifully sat through hearing someone read the long list of graduates’ names, cheering or clapping as your graduate’s name was read.
But before that you listened to multiple speeches, including one or more of the following: an administrator, a local personality, and of course, the valedictorian.
Now I'm about to bust out with some cold reading skills. In one or more of these speeches, or maybe all of them, you’ve had some Dr. Seuss quote read, or a portion of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”
You've heard this, haven’t you? Come on! Don’t try to deny it! I know you’ve heard someone quote Dr. Seuss. You don’t have to fight me on this; you’re among friends here, it’s OK to be honest.
I don't know if it’s a graduation requirement or something but I’m serious, I’ve attended multiple graduations in multiple states and it’s been the same thing, nearly every time! I had a chance to preach a sermon at a baccalaureate ceremony and when I mentioned this in passing I had dozens of people smile and chuckle. We all know that it’s a thing, so let’s move on.
What’s the point of all of this rambling, you may ask? Well, the point is that many parents are trying to raise children with the wrong goals in mind. None of the memes, courses, goals, skills, or anything else will help if you’ve started your parenting job off on the wrong foot.
Parents, the Dr. Seuss quotes at high school graduations send the message that our children are going to go off and do great things, to change the world. But that simply isn’t the case, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
The sad fact for many of our children is that we’re setting goals for them that they cannot attain. And when this happens, and they’ve failed to change the world, is it any surprise when they become hopeless and despondent?
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t equip our children to succeed, to raise them to be properly prepared to go out into the world. But if we’re convincing them that the sole purpose of their existence is to bring about change on a global scale then that’s when the quote from “The Core” comes into play.
Changing the world is too much. We want our kids to set goals and work hard to achieve them. But if we tell them that their primary purpose is to do something for the entire world to benefit from and they “only” wind up living five miles from your house, having a stable family, a decent job, and are otherwise content with their lives, then they’ll wind up being restless because they’ve failed to fulfill what we told them their one job to do in life was, to facilitate global change.
Societies change when individuals change. When people do the best they can in the small sphere of influence they’ve been given, and their efforts are added to other people’s efforts to do the same thing, then THAT’S when big changes happen.
You say you want your kids to go out and change the world? Raise them to be prepared to take care of the little world around them. The world they interact with directly on a daily basis.
Prepare them for that, and they’ll be stable, strong, secure, and content. Enough people do that and the world begins to change.
But don’t saddle your kids with a mission for which they can never truly and fully be prepared. Like Dr. Leveque said in “The Core,” it’s just too much.
You love them too much to overwhelm them with that. And frankly, you shouldn’t overwhelm yourself with that, either. But that’s for another day. So until then… go enjoy your kiddos.