We all seem to know what children need. We know what children want. But what do children hope for?
If only children had the words! They would be able to express what is inside their souls: the deepest, very human, set of ideals, which each child hopes for. Even adults struggle to find the right words. It is because language in modern society uses different words, substitutes of what has been forgotten, or brainwashed away. Barack Obama in his book The Audacity of Hope wrote that “we don’t even seem to possess a shared language with which to discuss our ideals.” However, “we have no choice,” but to share our ideals and values, to find this language, with which we raise hopeful children.
For example, everyone seems to be in favor of the word discipline. Parents are concerned about how to raise well-disciplined children. They read about the role of discipline in upbringing. But is discipline the right word? Hitler too was in favor of “discipline from his boys,” according to Rudolf Hess, The Oath to Adolf Hitler. What the former dictator wanted was blind discipline and obedience. Sometimes parents too want their children simply to obey, and they call it discipline. But, maybe what good parents really mean is internal discipline, or a sense of responsibility, or even better yet, internal freedom!
In another example when describing a good parent, many use the word caring. Good parents behave to fit this quality, they care of children. But how about the word magnanimity? One can pretend that she is caring, but she cannot pretend that she is magnanimous.
Or, one can pretend that she worries about her child’s self esteem, but she cannot pretend that she worries about the child’s dignity. For the latter, she must know dignity herself, know what this word refers to, not just recall it when it comes to old age or death. But, does she really know?
There is something authentic, sacred, lofty in those words. Every time people mention ideals they tend to apologize or cautiously use lofty words. Barack Obama in his book recognized “the risks” of using lofty words when he described the necessity of political changes. In families, like in society, there is a necessity to change too. Simon Soloveychik in Parenting For Everyone wrote, “In lofty words there might be a lie. But without them parenting inevitably becomes a lie.” So, we too have no choice. Like Soloveychik, we have to say, “forgive me, lofty words,” we have to use you, because we want to know what children hope for.
What are those lofty words? Maybe there will be less need for political changes if parents’ minds start to change. A family is one little cell of a nation: parents are government, and children are citizens. What do little citizens hope for? They hope for goodness and justice in their families. They hope that people around them are kind and honest. They hope that parents care about each other’s dignity and dignity of other people, including dignity of their children. They hope that in building relationships with children and between each other, parents are led by conscience. They hope that mothers are magnanimous, and fathers are conscientious. They hope that mothers and fathers have faith in children’s goodness. They hope for goodness and truth in the world. Do children hope for too much?
More on dignity: http://www.ParentingForEveryone.com/dignity