How to parent for a better world

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

Thank you to Le Petit Journal for bringing to us this wonderful piece of parenting. But most of all, thank you to this wonderful father and son.

Five days ago, Europe saw one of the worst attacks since the end of World War II. There is no doubt that the times when we felt good about ourselves and the European ideal of peacefulness and prosperousness life are over, if they were ever justified.

Now, we know we are not safe. Mistakes have been made and now need to be made good. Strategies need to change. Doctors are doing their part. Politicians, civil servants, journalists and even hackers are doing their parts. Hopefully, they will all do a better job than they have done so far, but this is another story.

It is parents who have the biggest job to do. Parents probably the greatest impact on the world in which we will grow old and in which our children will have their own families. We parents have the chance to raise a generation of children who are fulfilled and reasonably happy. We can make them so much better than we are, starting from the place where our own parents brought us. The children of tomorrow can be a lot of beautiful things:

They can be secure enough not to go into "fight or flight" mode as soon as they feel uncomfortable. They can be aware enough to recognise their emotions and feelings. They can be eloquent enough to put those emotions and feelings into words. They can be brave enough to try and communicate with people who speak other languages and practice other religions. They can be resilient enough to go beyond setbacks. They can be clever enough to figure out the solution that is escaping us. To be all of this, children just need to receive “good enough” parenting. What does that mean? Being well-parented is not equal to being taken care of by the most qualified nanny in town. It is not to receive tons of beautiful presents, nor to be always nicely and cleanly dressed. It is not to eat organic food every day, nor to attend the best school in the neighbourhood. Every single child, rich or poor, religious (any religion!) or not, educated or ignorant, can receive good parenting. Children do not need that much after all.

They need to be observed, perceived and treated as persons from birth. They need to be listened and responded to. They need to be taken seriously and acknowledged. They need to be taught about their emotions and feelings. They need to be exposed to effective models of conflict resolution. They need to be able to fail and try again. They need to be given a chance to discover what they are good at and put that to the service of the community.

If you are a doctor, remember to be the best possible parent to your child as well as saving your patients' lives. If you are a politician, remember to be the best possible parent to your child, as well as fighting for your cause. If you are a civil servant, remember to be the best possible parent to your child as well as finding practical ways to solve an issue. If you are a journalist, remember to be the best possible parent to your child, as well as reporting facts to the rest of the world. If you are a hacker, remember to be the best possible parent to your child, as well as putting your skill to service for the right cause. If you are a bus driver, a psychologist, a cleaning lady, a philosopher, a teacher, a nurse, if you are unemployed or if you are a millionaire, please remember to be the best possible parent to your child. It is the only way we can get our children to solve the problems that are too difficult for us to solve.

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