Contrary to how it feels when the nurse hands your first born over to you and waves goodbye, your children do not belong to you. They are not simply extensions of you. You have your life and they have theirs. Your lives are not interchangeable. Your dreams are not interchangeable. Children are yours on loan, for what will feel like a shockingly short period of time when they get ready to launch off on their own. And remember, your most important job is to prepare them for that launch. It is critical to remember, however, that despite all of our best intentions and even good parenting choices, there are no guarantees. Children are agents of free will.
At some point, your children will have to make their own decisions. Some will be good ones, some will not. This is a guarantee. The best we can do is set our sights constantly on the future, on who we want them to become and ask ourselves what specifically and intentionally we have done recently to help our children develop this way. I have found that my answer is frighteningly often: nothing.
If there were two things I could without fail bestow upon my children it would be agency and empathy. I wish for them that they grow into adults who constantly ask these two questions: “Being that things are as they are, what then shall I do?” (Well said, Jonathan Sacks)
And how can I make this life, this world, this moment a little bit better, a little easier, or a little more beautiful for those I share it with and those who come after?
If I achieve that, I will consider it a job well done indeed.
–Wendy Calise Head of School