Kind childhood; raising a world-changer.
I have a fear of insignificance.
Some people find wonder in the ever-expanding expanse of the universe, the planet on which we are so small in comparison. For me, the mere thought sends me into a spiral of dread and fear.
Others relish the thought of life being just that - a life. They feel power in being able to exercise it however they wish, it’s a freedom. Being forgotten when I’m gone sends me into a tailspin.
It’s like I’ve saved some of that existential angst from teenager-hood, carried it with me and held, white-knuckled, onto it. If I wonder why I’m here for more than a second, my heart beats fast and my stomach churns.
It’s the why that bothers me often, and having this pause in our life, this new start that feels like a change too far sometimes, it trips into my head often. Scrolling through photos of a small eight month old, all rolls and elastic band arms, the why hits me.
It’s her, isn’t it? I’m sure you know that too.
It’s the moments I conjure up, elbow deep in warm suds as I wash up and daydream. The imaginings of what we might do later that day, the books we might get out from the library later that day, the lifecycle of a sunflower that I might print off over naptime to place next to the dormant seed that we placed into a pot over the weekend.
It’s the hopes I hold in my heart, that one day she might hold in hers for her own child. I hope that they are as golden and squeaky-clean as mine, not murky and muddied by a future not yet known.
It’s wanting her to be so many things that I am not, and plenty more that I am.
It’s the tiny snores that wend their way into my ear as I drift off to sleep, and the calm in which she slumbers, the innocence in which she exists. The need to hold tight onto it, and to envelop her childhood in it all.
It’s wanting to stand in front of her, when she is twenty-five and I am double that, and be able to say truthfully that we tried, and even more so that we succeeded.
If you ask me what I imagine my daughter to be when she is grown, I will say this; a world-changer. Whether she is a scientist, or doctor, or humanitarian, or gardener, or receptionist. A world-changer is a person who smiles at others they see on the street, who speaks loudly when she needs to, and softly when voices quieter than her own cannot be heard. They are the people that care for the pigeons and spiders as much as the butterflies and the bluetits. Those who go into polling stations, and place tins into food banks and pick up litter that they find in the park.
Raise a child in kindness and they will be kind.
In a warm embrace we hold golden light, strong and yet unbearably fragile. Through unconditional love, letting little ones be little, and always, always kindness we are raising children that together might just do it. They will be the ones, of this I am sure, that can save the world.
The benefits of a kind childhood:
If we want to raise children who are going to care deeply about our planet and the issues on it, we must tread lightly between educating and nurturing our children without creating fear and worry. In Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne advocates for a childhood without the background noise of news and current issues. Instead, hold onto the magic of childhood, the delight and the joy. Introducing world issues slowly and when age-appropriate is a far more powerful and respectful way to do so.
Let children play, create a childhood full of wonder, encourage curiosity. All of these are far more powerful tools in nurturing deep care in children. Equally, children who are secure in their relationships are more likely to create more secure attachments with others, and more likely to be more empathetic towards those who may need help.
Some ways for a kinder childhood:
Curate an inclusive and diverse home. Books, play figures, television programmes, photos. Make sure the white, straight prince isn’t always the hero.
Shop secondhand and ethically, where possible.
Learn about nature together, make earth-friendly choices and spend time outdoors.
Give money, if you can, to good causes.
Teach children their right to consent. In doing so you are protecting them, and also helping them to extend this to others if they see issues when they are older.
Protect their childhood from problematic issues, turn off the news when it comes on and only allow conversation that is appropriate in front of them. If questions arise about current issues, answer them in a positive, age-appropriate way.
Do small acts of good on a daily basis. Pick up litter, donate to the food bank during the weekly shop, donate old toys, hold the door open for others.
Try to be more present and exercise gratitude in front of your child.
Model kindness in your daily life.