Being human

The quest for a definitive answer to the question ‘how to make children happy’ seems futile.

The search for a fail safe formula that will guarantee our children become ‘good’ adults seems ridiculous.

The 20 sure-fire ways to guarantee happy and well-adjusted children are nonsensical, and useless.

What’s a parent to do?

If an answer seems impossible to find, it’s often because we are asking the wrong questions. Unless you are Einstein, but I’m not. That being the case, I’m going to ask a different question.

Rather than wondering what children should ‘be’ like, and how parents can help children ‘be’ like that, I’m going to think about what our children will have to do by virtue of the fact that they are human beings.

Here are the twenty things that will (more than likely) happen to our kids:

  1. They will see the world from their own view-point. This view-point will be determined by their age, their sex, their colour, their religion, their sexuality, their ailments, their disabilities, their looks, their upbringing, even their height.
  2. They will meet people who all be different to them, in little ways and large ways. These people may not share their view points.
  3. They will love some people, like lots of people, feel hatred towards a handful of people, and be indifferent to many.
  4. Some people will scare them, some will make them feel safe. They will scare some people.
  5. They will make choices, some good, some bad. They will have to deal with the mistakes that they make.
  6. They will receive an education, formal or otherwise.
  7. Their bodies will change constantly, not just up until puberty.
  8. They will have to deal with the fact that they look different to the person that the person they fancy fancies.
  9. They will be intrigued by sex, be terrified by sex, and probably have sex. Sometimes they will want sex more than anything, and sometimes they will wish sex would go fuck itself.
  10. They will decide whether they want children, then have to deal with the consequences of what actually happens, good or bad.
  11. They will have to find food, shelter and water.
  12. They will be faced with violent situations: both personal threats to themselves, and wars between ideologies. They may cause these situations.
  13. They will create things and destroy others.
  14. They will be confronted with drugs.
  15. They will earn, spend and ultimately have some inner drive to contribute to something bigger than themselves.
  16. They may break a heart. They will have their own heartbroken.
  17. They will have to deal with death, disease, illness, disability, loneliness, and despair  – their own and others’.
  18. They will have to deal with disappointment.
  19. They will experience the true power of a group of people, both as something beautiful, and something terrible.
  20. They will laugh, cry, dance, sing, smile, frown and hopefully, if they are lucky, find peace within themselves.

So many news flashes and books and radio phone ins are preoccupied with telling me how terrible a world we live in, based on the fact that numbers 1 – 20 on this list are happening. Of course they are happening. That’s life! 

Don’t get me wrong, as a mother, I often wish I could shield the children from this list. Obviously I can’t. Obviously, that’s not really desirable.

What I want to do is work our how I can help equip my children to deal with these situations, not if they crop up, but when they crop up.

That’s surely my role as a parent.

That’s surely our role as human beings.

5 thoughts on “Being human

  1. Clare Flourish says:

    Monkeytraps, a fun, worthwhile blog, says the successful parent is the one whose child can afford their own therapy.

    I would say knowing your feelings and desires is important. We all wear masks, which is only OK if you are not trying to fool yourself. You might desire a higher level of competency than that.

    Sometimes a characteristic can be positive in some situations, negative in others.


  2. Barbie Beaton says:

    Hi Abby. Great job here. I’m working on getting tween and teen girls to open up. It is a very tough job to parent when you don’t know which number of the list is bugging them at that moment. Hope for the future.


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