We tell ourselves we’re good people. We support good causes. We vote for the right candidates. We are disgusted when we hear people say bigoted or cruel things.
And yet are we, really? Good people? Or are we just as selfish and self-absorbed as those who we try to distinguish ourselves from, albeit with the veneer of polite society? A good place to start when it comes to answering that question is Caitlin Flanagan’s recent viral Atlantic piece about the moral indefensibility of elite private schools. It ought to be mandatory reading for every parent, frankly, but particularly those in upper income brackets who might protest that they’re only doing “what’s best” for their children. But even if we’re not sending our kids to Choate or Harvard-Westlake, it’s worth taking a minute to look at our actions…in action.
Did you move neighborhoods to get away from the “bad school” or leave the “bad” soccer program for the elite, expensive one (instead of investing in trying to make either one better)? Did you cheerlead social change on social media but live in a privileged bubble? Do you complain about the injustices of the college admissions process while you secretly fight to secure every competitive advantage for your own kids inside it?
We talk about teaching your kids by example. Well, that extends to the choices you make about raising your kids—where you send them to school, what programs you put them in, what kind of company you keep and encourage them to keep. Because those choices define the world in which your children live—and if they don’t reflect the values you talk to them about, you end up creating a bubble of both privilege and dissonance that will not serve them as you try to shape them into the kind of good people you believe yourself to be.
“Thou Shall Teach By Example” is the 1st commandment in The Stoic Parent: 10 Commandments For Becoming A Better Parent. If you want to take your parenting to the next level, The Stoic Parent course is 10 days of the most important things that you can do to become the best parent you can be. If you want to learn to better teach by example, sign up for The Stoic Parent today!