Do we tell them to be good or to be rich?
If you ask any of us what message we try to transfer to our children to make up their life, the vast majority would answer without disheveling: "be good." But if we lived for a time in a "Big Brother" in our own home, we would discover, not without surprise, how often we convey a very different message from the one we want to convey.
I've thought long and hard these days. I had the opportunity to do a wonderful interview with Tomás Melendo, which you can read in full in our paper edition. Professor Melendo has written one last book, The meeting of three loves (Word, 2018) where he puts all his philosophical knowledge and all his experience as husband, father and grandfather, at the service of true education.
He tells us, literally, that "we have to decentralize children", which means to stop them from being the center, to stop thinking about themselves. Because if we really want them to be happy, they will only reach that path by way of goodness. And to be good they have to give themselves to others with self-forgetfulness. As simple as radical.
These days there was an examination of conscience of when we mothers say that we have to be good and when our message is contrary to the one we supposedly planned to transmit.
Fortunately, we often do it well. "Ask before you take the last cookie" or "How is that little girl who is having a bad time".
But I realize that when we talk about the future, about their adult life, about their work, we tend to tell them more to look for themselves than for others. And we do that, almost without thinking, every time they get lazy in front of school books. "Study, you have to be something in life", we added, as if 'being something' depended on what you have or what you earn, as if only when you have or you win you could 'be something' to begin with , in the best of cases, to be good ...
I think the key is to add to that 'being something' a 'for what'. Because if we are just something to earn as much money as soccer players, we are not a big deal, but if we are something to put our talents at the service of others and we become the doctor who saves lives, the master who furnishes heads or the doorman who looks after the common good of all the neighbors, then we will really be a lot.
So when we see them fool around in front of books and notebooks, let's not get stuck with the idea, of reading a bit rude, that they have to be something in life. Let's transmit to them the idea that they have to be something to help others.
Tomas Melendo explained to me that when they are small, it is enough to tell them: study to be able to explain what you have learned to your classmates and siblings and help them with their tasks. But it is in the nature of children to have high views and realize at once that if they study, they help and that when they help, they are also happy.