The key aim we have for our children is for them to be wise. Although we value education, we have seen that mature people will seek the education they need for themselves. Well educated people don’t always seek wisdom.
The difference between the two can be easily explained in an analogy I read this morning – knowledge is being able to label a tomato as a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put the tomato into a fruit salad.
It is through hundreds if not thousands of experiences with both tomatoes and fruit salads that gives us the wisdom not to mix the two. Most people won’t actually experiment with the combination (but those who do are probably Hares!) – nevertheless it is through repeated similar experiences (or one very intense experience) that we learn wisdom.
One day these darling boys of ours will drive a car. They will be at a party where drugs are available. They may well be in a position where someone is going to commit a crime, and they are in the same vicinity. It is these situations that they will need to make a wise decision. Or suffer the consequences.
Consequences are what make us wise. Children might break an arm or leg. They might get a graze, dislocate their thumbs, cut their fingers, they might get into trouble at school for misbehaving – I would argue that they need to do these things – or at least have the chance to do these things, and face the uncomfortable reality of the consequence.
It is only through getting things wrong that they will have the opportunity to learn wisdom.
By getting things wrong and experiencing the pain or embarrassment of the consequence children also learn they can manage when things don’t go their way.
We allow our children to take physical risks as they are driven to do so. (Yes, I cringe at playgrounds with two year-old Mr Butterfly).
We also are very firm and unmoving if they do something which could be considered to be naughty – rudeness, violence, damage to property etc. It is difficult not to buy into their Power Tantrums at these times – to hear them tell us how upset they are and how sorry they are, to witness their tears and to to hear their pleads. But these are just words and noise. While we might say, “I know you’re sorry” or “I can see you’re sad” – to acknowledge their emotional state, we don’t back down. In the adult world, the consequences for violence, damage to property and even rudeness will happen, and we will not be their to protect them. To be wise, our boys need to know they can made amends and how to make those amends through real actions. They need to know the emotions of sorrow, embarrassment, frustration etc are to be ridden not fought.
School is backward –
real life works with experience coming first
and then knowledge.
Parenting for wisdom and self-assurance is very different to parenting for education and high self-esteem. We need to throw out the idea of moderation in all things and replace it with excess in a few areas – excess affection; excess freedom to explore; excess firmness around a few rules; and excess stories and rituals.
Education is great – I’m all for it – but not at the cost of wisdom and maturity.
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