Think about the life of Randolph Churchill, who we have talked about. Think about the life of Claudia Williams, the daughter of Ted Williams, who we’ve talked about. Think of Commodus, the son of Marcus Aurelius. These children were privileged in many ways—they had wealthy, powerful parents who gave them access to so many wonderful things.
But surely if you’d have asked them, they’d have told you just how hard it was to be the child of someone like their parents. Because they were gone so much. Because they were so hard on them. Because they had enormous, almost Shakespearean virtues as well as flaws, the brunt of which their poor children had to bear.
There is no person who has no issues with their parents, but we still ought to strive to be the best we can to avoid just that. It should not be so hard to be our children, and we should not make it any harder. Life is hard enough! We don’t need to add to it by saddling them with a desperate sense that they have to live up to our legacy or that our love is conditional or that our presence cannot be counted on. They should not have to wonder what our priorities are. They should not have to take care of us. They should not have to fend for themselves when they are small and vulnerable.
Luctor et emergo, we have said before. Indeed, children grow from struggle and challenges. But we should not be one of those challenges. We should be the person that they look to for the confidence and the support and the advice they need to help them tackle those challenges. We should be the person there to catch them if they really get in trouble, to tell them that we are their biggest fan and that we are rooting for them.
We work as hard as we do to give our kids every advantage, every possible benefit in this world. Because it is a privilege to be their parents. But the cost of that hard work shouldn’t be—don’t let it be a burden to be our kids.