A Legacy For My Children
by Lori Jo Kemper MBA, CPC, MIC, PCI Certified Parent Coach®, Founder of The Parenting Path®, A Parent Coaching and Positive Parenting Education Organization
As a parent just returning from my son's college graduation, I find myself looking at the world we live in and wondering what legacy we parents are leaving, just as the speaker mentioned during the graduation ceremony.
As we sat there, my husband, our younger son, and I, accompanied by both our children’s grandmothers, the sun shined and the blue ocean glimmered beyond us. It could not have been a more beautiful day for such a wonderful celebration. My heart swelled with pride and fulfillment, to get to see that our oldest child had reached this milestone of his life. He had reached these goals he had set for himself. The setting was story book like, with the decorations and the fanfare of any college graduation one could imagine. This was out of doors, set just above the ocean. Flowers galore and pomp and circumstance to beat the band. I loved it. Every moment of it. This was one of those parenting moments to top them all, that is for sure. Just as heart popping as that first step, as mountain top as that first “I wuv you mommy”. Thinking about how hard he worked to get there just made my eyes swell with tears. God has been so good to him and has blessed him richly indeed. Oh my gosh, how great is the memory of that day. His cap and gown, his great smile, from ear to ear. His surprise, scruffy beard growth. The looks on my husband’s face, and even on our youngest son, priceless.
We felt, like every parent there, such pride and joy, but also such hope as each of the young graduates take their next steps in life. Those thoughts have gotten me to thinking about the legacy we are leaving as parents, though the speaker was referring to the new graduates, of course. As I pondered this concept, a haunting favorite reference of mine surfaced.
There is an African tribe that has a traditional greeting "Kasserian ingera", which means "And how are the children?” It is the greeting among the Masai, acknowledging the high value that the tribe places on their children's well-being. The traditional answer is, "All the children are well." It means that peace and safety prevail; the priority of protecting the young is still in place. I read this information about the Masai, in an article written by Tom Westerhuaus, Superintendent Minnesota School District 719. The information about this tribe touched me deeply. I remember feeling such great disturbance at how this tribe placed such high value on their children, yet we, such a developed nation, are so far from that benchmark.
As a parenting coach and a mother, I place top priority on focusing on the positive, as a biblical truth. I know I cannot allow the difference in the measure of where we are at as a nation, compared to the Masai, to bring me down. Instead, I choose to let that insight motivate me to be an agent for change.
So I ask myself, what would our world look like if we were a culture like the Masai, placing the well-being of our children above all else? What would it look like to assess the wellness of our society based on how our children are doing?
There is so much that comes to mind. It seems to me that the moral fiber of our culture needs to change the most. This is such a huge thing. To whittle it down to a more manageable chunk of challenge, I arrived at the topic of the industry driven culture we live in, for example. The combination of that and the affects of the various forms of media that surround our kids, give me more than enough to consider changing.
What would I need to do to move towards the images of mind? What am I willing to do to make a difference? I already write to my congress people. I have complained to the various media for years pertaining to commercials, and programming content. We have turned off many popular TV programs in our home all these years. Our kids did not watch The Simpsons, or the violent cartoons. They have always had a limit on TV viewing. Video games? Forget about it! Have we done enough? Actually, most of the time it seems like a continual, uphill battle. As I ask myself what I need to do, I do realize that every action I take matters. Like that saying goes, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." I know that I need to stand up for my principles. However, I find myself thinking, how does one have the time and energy to stand up for all of them, every time?
It reminds me of the story about the little boy and the sand dollar. A good friend of mine reminded me of this story last week, though I had heard it before.
There was a little boy by the sea, surrounded by hundreds of star fish that had washed up on the beach. He was picking them up, one by one, and throwing them back into the ocean. An elderly man came along, observing the boy. The man spoke to the boy and said,” Little boy, you can’t fix this. What you are doing won’t matter.” The little boy looked at the man, lifted up another star fish and said, “It matters to this one.” And he threw it into the sea.
I wish for everyone, myself included, that we recognize how each of our actions do matter. One at a time. They have meaning. They matter. This thought makes me feel better about this part of the legacy I am leaving my children.
Copyright 2006, Lori Jo Kemper, www.TheParentingPath®
I bet it is really hard for you to love all of everybody in the world. There are only 4 people in my family and I can never do it.
(Letters to God from children)