Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

It's not always Mom's and Dad's fault

Dennis Prager uses the tragic suicide of Tony Dungy's son to discuss both how much, and how little, influence parents have on their children. My own experience tells me that Prager is correct. My children came into the world hardwired with certain personality traits and certain abilities that I cannot touch. That is, no matter what I do, nothing changes these qualities. Some of these qualities are good, some are bad. All I can try to do is create an environment where the good qualities are fostered and the bad qualities are, at least a little, deprived of oxygen. Also, because peers are so important in children's development, my contribution is to try to ensure that my children are around others whom I like -- or, at least, don't dislike too much. As Dennis Prager says:

What we learn over time, from our own children and from the children of our friends, is how powerful are the traits built into our children -- and not only those of personality and bio-chemistry, but more important and even frightening, of character. Some people are born good -- naturally inclined to be kind, thoughtful and considerate of the impact they have on others; while for other human beings, empathy -- the ability to put oneself in the place of another -- is very hard and sometimes impossible to inculcate. In parenting, as in virtually every other area of life, as we get older we become increasingly aware of the role of luck -- including how some children turn out.
I read somewhere, a long time ago, that the most stressful jobs are the ones where the workers have the most responsiblity and the least power. That's a parent's job in a nutshell, isn't it? No wonder I started spotting white hairs on my head so soon after my children were born!