Parenting is such a challenge. I know this from experience because my wife and I have raised two daughters and the stories I’ve heard from other parents confirm it. Raising a child is one of the most difficult, complex, and challenging tasks that any human being can engage in.
From what I can gather, we parents don’t often stop to think about what the purpose of parenting is. Parents don’t often get much time to think about what they are doing!
In the book A More Exciting Life by the School of Life, the authors suggest that parenting is all about nurturing our children to become autonomous members of humanity. They write, ‘… parental love is not to produce a clone, but to give encouragement to an autonomous new member of the human race …’ In other words, parenting is about helping our children to grow up and become independent individuals who can make their own decisions.
This is a beautiful ideal, but it’s not always easy to achieve. In our society, there is so much pressure on parents to produce “perfect” children. We are bombarded with images of perfect families and perfect children who always behave perfectly.
But the reality is that parenting is messy, chaotic, and unpredictable. And that’s okay! Because parenting is not about perfection. Parenting is about love. It’s about giving our children the freedom to be themselves, to make their own mistakes, and learn from them.
The quote also points out the consequences of not aligning ourselves with this aim of parenting. As the authors suggest, if we reflect on our own upbringing, many of us can recognise that as we were growing up, we were often molded by our parents to become clones of them.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Our parents love us, and they want what’s best for us. But it can lead to problems later in life when we realise that we are not living our own lives, but the lives that our parents wanted for us.
It can be difficult to break out of this mold and live our own lives. But it is possible. And it starts with recognising that we are autonomous human beings, capable of making our own decisions. It starts with parents who are willing to encourage their children to become autonomous human beings.
But how do we do that? How do we encourage our children to become autonomous human beings?
There is no one answer to this question because every child is different. But there are some general things that we can do as parents to help our children develop into autonomous human beings.
One of the most important things we can do is to give our children the space to grow and develop. This means letting them make their own decisions, even if we don’t agree with them. It means not trying to control every aspect of their lives.
Another important thing we can do is to encourage our children to be independent thinkers. We can do this by exposing them to different points of view and encouraging them to question everything.
Lastly, we can model what it means to be an autonomous human being. We can do this by living our own lives in a way that is true to ourselves. And as we model that for our children, we must also be open to hearing what they have to say about our lives.
We also need to remember that, as parents, we are not perfect. We will make mistakes. And that’s okay! Our children will learn from our mistakes just as much as they will learn from our successes.
Parenting is a beautiful, messy, chaotic journey. It is full of love, laughter, and tears. And it is worth it. Because at the end of the day, parenting is about encouraging our children to become autonomous human beings. And that is a goal worth striving for.
What do you think the purpose of parenting is? Share your thoughts in the comments below!