Summer and I were watching the newer Cinderella movie this week and part of it stuck with me. There is a scene in the movie where Cinderella’s mother, knowing that she is about to die, tells Cinderella to “be kind and have courage.” Through the rest of the movie those two principles of kindness and courage influence her decisions in life’s more difficult moments. Although just a fairytale, I have no doubt that as a mother I have the power to help guide my children to live by certain principles and ideals. While I might not have the wisdom to know what traits I am inspiring in my kids, I do know the ideal that has been nurtured in me.
I can’t help feeling like our generation is raising our kids without the understanding of the responsibility that comes with the privileges we are affording our children. We try to unwrite any shortcoming of our youth by saying our goal is for our children to want for nothing and have access to all the things we didn’t. But just maybe we are overlooking all the things we learned by not having access to everything or things handed to us.
With Great Privilege Comes Great Responsibility
My father had his first paying job at the age of 10. He grew up in North San Diego County and on weekends and in the summer he worked in the flower fields. He would get up at the crack of dawn and hop on the truck with the migrant workers and pick flowers in the fields until the work was done. When the season was over, he would clean outhouses in the fields and eventually graduated to scrub the floors of the distribution center and offices on the weekends. One summer, my grandfather encouraged my dad to use the money he had earned to buy a soda machine for the break area. Even when his soda machine was making more than he was in daily wages, my dad continued to work all aspects of the family business until one day, over a decade later, he thanked my grandfather for the opportunity of work and let him know that he wanted to venture out into industry on his own. Despite being the only son of one of the owners of this booming local economy, he was not afforded any shortcuts. Quite honestly, my Dad probably had more to prove being the son of an owner than he would have without that privilege. The person my father became and the man he is today is because he was raised to wear his privilege as a responsibility rather than a crown.
Talent vs. Greatness
The question we need to start asking ourselves as parents is, by giving our children everything are we actually giving them anything?
Are our children best served by being in gymnastics, soccer, dance and music lessons or would they learn so much more by simply going in the backyard, doing some physical labor and learning hard work? Alot of the world’s greatest coaches will argue that the mark of their best athletes isn’t their ball skills or how early the joined sports, it’s their mental toughness and work ethic.
No One Has Become Poor By Giving
As I look back to the fairytale wisdom that I want to imprint on my children I hope that, through example, I can guide my children to understand my adaptation of my grandfather’s lesson. If he instilled in my father that, with great privilege comes great responsibility they I hope to teach my children that, the more that you have the more that you should give.
In whatever capacity you are blessed, that is where you need to share more. If my children see that we have the luxury of a comfortable lifestyle, I hope they instead remember how we shared our financial privilege – if my husband and I have careers that lend us flexible schedules, I hope they see how we use that to help other parents who don’t – if we have the blessing of good health, I hope they see how we honor and maintain that fortune – if we are blessed with happiness and love, I hope they know and learn our deep sense of gratitude for all that life gives us.
If your children are being born into privilege, with that will come tremendous opportunity. As parents it’s our responsibility to show them that along with their opportunities is a responsibility to not squander them and use them as a force of good in the world for all those that don’t have the same advantages.