You’ve seen a lot. You’ve been through a lot. You know what’s up.
As a parent, you have to make sure that the insight you’ve gleaned from these experiences does not turn into cynicism—and if it does from time to time, that you shield your kids from it. Because any disillusionment you might feel about people or the world or your own present circumstances is not their fault and it does not serve them well.
The “poorest way to face life is with a sneer,” Theodore Roosevelt reminds us. What he’s talking about isn’t so much disillusion though, as it is contempt. He’s talking about wallflower nihilism and superiority. He’s talking about the kind of cynicism that voids out creativity, collaboration, and connection. He’s talking about our frustrations and doubts, as well as our anger and resentments.
It is so easy to fall into the clutches of these forces, to let them retard your behavior. Little comments under your breath; making fun of stuff that makes you uncomfortable; rationalizing your avoidance of things you’d rather not do or deep down know you don’t do well. Choices that pass on so easily to impressionable children who are always watching.
As we’ve said before, your kids are a fresh start. They came into the world with fresh eyes, a full heart, and so much energy. Don’t deprive them of these forces for good. Don’t weigh them down with your baggage.
Lift them up. Encourage them. Let them be earnest. Let them care and try. Better yet, let them infect you with their sincerity and the clarity of their passion.
Whatever you do, don’t let your cynicism infect them.