Parenting is so darn full of dilemmas. Sometimes I feel that if I really want to do a responsible job as a father, I can just as well sit for 10 hours per day and think.
Take schooling for an instance. I honestly feel that the schooling system around the world is pretty much screwed up, directed into creating obedient people, with minds full of meaningless data, bowing down to the authorities and endlessly following some outer goals and regulations, do the social climbing, trying to be better, best, first.
Yet, despite this, I tend to evaluate my own kids against the requirements of this very same schooling system all the time. Thought I believe it is fundamentally wrong, I direct them into it and worry when they don’t comply with its requirements.
I justify this by thinking that I want to help them to, by getting some education and study habits, become more competent to operate in this world, in this system, as it is. But I don’t believe in it and it would be much more honest, brave and inspirational if I just said: “Fuck school, follow your dream…” It would be so much more true and meaningful if I chose to be the change I want to see in this world – if I paraphrase Gandhi - and support what is alive and somewhat holly inside of them, rather that cowardly support the social system killing their very essence, with this passive attitude: “Well, you know, this is the way it is, what can you do about it, so why don’t you just persist and learn this truly stupid stuff with some sadly immature and incompetent teachers, for another vast number of years, and then you will have a stupid paper in your hands and you will be able to find a stupid job and make some stupid money with it. And by then you will forget all about your dreams anyway since you will be well adapted…”
For a moment it seems like the light at the end of tunnel if I shift my focus from them to me, to my own needs; what do I really need here, what are my basic needs and values in my relationship with these kids? This is rather easy at the beginning, since there aren’t all that many:
One thing is that I need to be in a fair relationships with them, meaning that I want us all to contribute to our community, in a responsible manner. I don’t want to be their servant and I don’t want them to be mine either. I want to cooperate mutually, freely give and receive, in a balanced way that nurtures everybody. This is very clear and very important to me.
And the other thing is that I want us to interact with each other in a respectful way, not because this is a moral thing to do, but because we genuinely do respect each other and feel this is how we want to treat each other – with care.
But with the third need I feel in this context it all gets complicated again: namely, I also have a very strong need to contribute to their own wellbeing. And now who is there to say what will contribute to their wellbeing, nowadays, in their heavy teenage period of life, when everything seems to be changing on a weekly basis. How can I ever know that? For some people the quantum leap in their lives was when they decided to persist with their schooling, and for others when they decided to quit schooling system.
I feel rather torn. I need to evaluate what they do and how they do it, since I want to do a responsible job (and not just sit at home and throw money at them), supporting them in any way I can. But what do I support? Do I support what I feel is best for them or what they feel is best for them? Do I support what they feel is best for them now or what I believe they will feel in, say, ten years? Do I just stick to what I feel is crucial in human life, like being honest, fair, empathetic, independent, responsible, free, with an independent and open mind, and a warm and loving heart? Or do I go along the framework of this not-so-very-perfect society that they will have to struggle with, whether we like it or not?
Anyway, my teenagers come home with some heavier school failures (in general because they did not find time to sit down for a bit in between all the omni-important computer activities) and a part of me just wants to laugh: “Don’t worry about it, there are other things to worry about in this world.” Another part of me is very evaluative and wants to be angry because they have all the chances in the world for a very easy and comfortable life, with a bit of study. And there are millions of kids around the world that are really eager to study, but there is no school anywhere near and they need to fill their bellies first and survive bombs being thrown at them. Yet another part of me strongly feels there is absolutely nothing to worry about, I know they will make it and I feel they are great just the way they are. And another part of me just does not want to support whatever they do, if they want to sit on computer for ten hours per day, for instance. Studying seems a more meaningful thing to spend your days on.
But is it really?
This does not seem to have an ending.
Another clear thing in my mind is the reason why I want them to be doing anything in their lives; I definitely wish they do, whatever they chose to do, out of their own inner motivation. Not because they fear me, not because they fear consequences, not because they want to impress anybody, not in order to buy love or anything, but because this is the people they want to be in this life, this is their free choice, this is what they are here for, and because this is what contributes to the beauty of their lives.
Well, perhaps it is just the high time for me to saddle our van and go to an island for a few days. And get in touch with the broad picture again.