Is there anything more serious than the job of a parent? The job of raising and educating something as complex as a human being? Gargantuan job indeed, thanks dad.
Being old enough to have kids now, I’ve obviously wondered a lot about what does it really mean to have a kid, what does it imply? And if I happen to have one, what’s the best way to do so?
It is hard to look a child and think in anything beyond his innocent good-nature when he is little. It’s hard to think in the child as the future participating man or woman he or she is going to become in society.
It is wise to ponder on the fact that your children will grow to become persons who will experience success and failure, happiness and sadness, gains and loss, life and death, just like the rest of us.
Your kid will arrive to a complex reality comparable in complexity only to himself. Just as yourself, he or she will have to stand and learn on his own. He will also have to figure out how to live a successful and happy life with all the hardships and wonders as well that accompany the experience of being a human being.
There are seldom harder bonds between human relationships than that of a father and a son. This bond is as strong as adamant steel and the relationship will greatly define the character and the inclinations the child will have as a person, being a parent is without a doubt one of the most important jobs on the world.
It is only natural to want the best possible life for your child and with this new desire, founded on fatherly love, the profound and ancient question of: what is the best life any ways? How can I give the best life to my child? Arises.
The single greatest gift you can give your child is the gift of wisdom. Wisdom is the hardest and also the most valuable treasure you come by in life.
“Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.” Epictetus
Wisdom unlike riches, will never leave you, it will keep providing you with a life of invaluable meaning and virtue. The central question of Stoic philosophy is precisely this one: How to live good life?
Your job will be as unique as your child and so your education will have to be just so.
But there is no need to worry as there are few things as rewarding as seeing your child grow I’m sure. All the advice posted on Stoic Answers serves for the purpose of education and refelction so don’t hesitate on searching for answers whenever you need them.
Specific to the father-son relationship. Let’s talk about control.
It’s easy to forget that a child is not just your little boy or girl but a person as well, embedded with his own free will, character and desires. Although completely dependent on the first years of his life, he will develop himself, with your aid, to become an independent person.
It’s only natural to want the absolute best for your child and it can be frustrating not being able to make him understand and act as well as you wish and more importantly, know it is best based on your experience and your hard earned wisdom.
It can even come to a point where you start imposing your will over his decisions and not letting him or her decide for himself, on the stance that “you know what is best”, but it is more complicated than that.
There are obviously situations that mandate your intervention like stopping a child from crossing the street with cars and other dangerous situations. But the point I’m trying to make is, if your were to ask yourself: What is the best way for this kid to learn this lesson? This is active parenting as their is reflection that has to be made. And that my friend, is the hard part of transmitting your wisdom. So how does one goes about that?
Just as in every aspect in life, there are things that are under your control and there are things that are not under our control.
With children it’s just the same.
Imposition of values may work on the short term, but for the long term, if a kid doesn’t understand why something is valuable, he will not see the use of it and discard it or worse,he will actually rebel against the intrusions on his independence. The child can develop strong dependency as well of course. Either end, would be harmful for the child as he would have to learn on his own, and life hits hard when you don’t know the punch is coming.
Let him know about the punches! And let him know how to deal best with them. But most of all, let him fight on his own as there is no better lesson.
Thanks for being a Dad! Who knows, maybe you are raising the next Marcus Aurelius.
Complement this article with Maria Popova’s: Marcus Aurelius on What His Father Taught Him About Humility, Honor, Kindness, and Integrity
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