Last week I went to a lecture by a Rabbi at North Shore Synagogue on the topic of how to inspire your children. His initial point was that a great proportion of the world’s ills
crime, drugs, promiscuity, social dislocation – can be sheeted home to one principle cause boredom, and the desperate need to run from it. The opposite of boredom is not excitement which is merely a brittle covering for it; rather it is inspiration. His key message to the audience was to be inspiring parents.
He made four points. Firstly that parents shouldn t try to make children everything the parents want them to be; but rather allow them to be everything the children want to be. As an aside he said the question: what do you want to be when you grow up? has only two possible answers: a good person, or a bad person. He pointed out that, of course, everyone really wants to be (and feels they are) a good person. It’s just that some of us haven t really been educated in what being a good person requires.
His second point was that intellectual curiosity is more important than mere school grades. Low grades may indicate a lack of curiosity, but it is the latter which needs attention first.
So, thirdly, excite your child’s curiosity and desire to know more by communicating your passions to them. He, the Rabbi, said he was passionate about three things: God and Judaism (naturally), History and Nature, and he had communicated this to his children. Not that they should have the same passions, but that should know what their father and mother’s passions are.
Fourthly, your love for your children shouldn t be (or appear to be) conditional on them doing what you want. It should be unqualified. No more love if they are good, no less if they are, occasionally, not good. The one thing your children have absolutely no control over is the amount that you love them.
As Headmaster is away this week, this comment piece is from our archives, dated Week 6, Term 1, 2007