It is no secret that parents have a huge amount of influence over their children. Our
beliefs, morals, habits and ideals all directly influence our children and the way they will
go on to live their lives and impact on society. As a mother of three beautiful children,
one of the things that I have struggled with is the balance between the obvious need
to encourage our children to strive to achieve and follow their dreams, and make an
impact on the world, while on the other hand instilling in them the virtues of selflessness,
patience, compassion and empathy for others. If you simply encourage your children to
excel, ‘win’, be the best they can be, and to reach for the stars, then it seems to me that
fundamentally you are giving your child the impression that life is a competition. And
looking at life superficially that is exactly what life can seem to be—one big competition.
“Get an ‘A’ in math”; ‘make the baseball team’; ‘complete grade 5 on the piano’; ‘get in
to college’; ‘fight for a job’—the competition is endless; it truly is survival of the fittest.
But how does love, fellowship, respect, cooperation and common decency etc. all fit into
that race to the top? Biologist Jeremy Griffith says that ‘consider-others-above-yourself,
altruistic, unconditional selflessness is the underlying theme of existence. It’s the glue that
holds the world together’. Which is definitely something that I agree with. Choose any
society, community, organisation, family unit, or in fact any group of humans, and you
can see that the success of that unit relies almost entirely on how giving/selfless each of
the individuals are able to be within the group.
Of course we want our children to succeed, to ‘do well’ and find a career which
they are good at and excel in. But success only works if it is under the proviso that our
individual success is ultimately a positive for the larger whole. A successful bank manager
is a positive to the bank. A successful bank is able to loan more money to allow others
to own their own homes or start their own businesses. Successful companies can employ
many thousands of people, and pay more tax which builds our economy. Successful
businesses can fund our sporting clubs and youth organisations – the examples are endless.
But each one of these organisations mentioned only work if the majority of the individuals
that make up that organisation (who are albeit striving to achieve success for themselves)
are on a higher level striving for success of the whole. If too many of the individuals in
any of those organisations become too self-focused, take too many selfish short-cuts the
whole organisation becomes dysfunctional.
America is the greatest country in the world, people are free to live, vote, say and
behave however they want; that is why living in a free country is such a wonderful
privilege. We are free. But if we want this country to continue to be functional and free,
we have to continue to instil selflessness, love and cooperation into our children not just
the need to succeed and compete in the world’s tough environment, because although the
world surely is incredibly competitive, I still firmly believe that whoever said that love
makes the world go round certainly knew what they were talking about.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored Post.