I write and podcast a lot about unschooling, entrepreneurship, liberty, living a free and self-directed life, etc. Because of this it’s easy to feel pressure regarding my own kids. What if they don’t turn out all right? What if they become unhappy status-driven school-loving commies? Wouldn’t that invalidate everything I talk about?
From a logical standpoint, no. A person who secretly eats meat can have sound and compelling arguments for vegetarianism. A person who could never play quarterback might be a great coach. A bad mother might be a good thinker.
True, most people might ignore all ideas from someone whose life they don’t admire. Post a good quote from a controversial famous person and you’re likely to have more people condemn the person than the quote. Whether or not it’s fair, it will happen.
I’ve always been bothered by this way of evaluating ideas. My arguments are either interesting and useful or they’re not, regardless of my unseemly personal tendencies like the occasional wearing of jorts. I don’t feel much personal pressure to behave in any particular way in hopes that it makes my writing more appealing. I can’t imagine doing so. What a yoke to live under! Yuck.
With kids it’s different. Not in kind, but in degree. The idea that what my kids do with their lives should be a determinant of whether what I write is good or bad strikes me as vastly more offensive.
If I’m a theist and my kids grow up atheists does that make me a failure? Does it invalidate theism? I may be a failure and theism may be invalid, but not because of what beliefs and behaviors my kids adopt.
If we were to say that me or my ideas could be considered bogus if my kids did not adopt them and mirror my life, what would we really be saying about children? The implication is that a child is not an autonomous being capable of making choices and forming beliefs – good or bad. The implication is that children are sponges who ought to and do, if properly trained, become whatever their parents wish them to be. This is an idea I find disgusting.
Whatever environment we create for our kids they still have the freedom to choose the kind of life they want to live. They have to go through their own process of discovery. My hope is that, if we can maximize opportunities, minimize impediments, and avoid emotional damage, it will be easier for them to choose to live free and wonderful lives. But here’s the kicker: free and wonderful must be defined by them, not me.
True, non-envious, non-manipulative love is when you desire other people to experience happiness on their own terms. It’s pretty hard, but when you feel it it is delightful. It’s like you get to live additional lives when you can truly take joy in other people taking joy.
Yes, I feel waves of panic from time to time when I consider how my own kids might choose to live their lives, both now and in the future. But I fight it. I take that pressure off myself as best I can.
I don’t feel obligated to have my kids be or think or do anything in particular in order to validate things I think and live. They can choose whatever they want. They’re on a journey to find truth just like I am. Their journey can’t invalidate mine, nor mine theirs.