Florence Nightingale was a precocious child. As a toddler, she always went her own way. Then, unlike many girls her age at the time, she wasn’t interested in parties or getting married or fancy things. She wanted to do something different with her life.
When she began making moves towards volunteering in hospitals, her parents were horrified. It had been difficult enough raising a strange child, now she wanted to go debase herself with work below her station? They were embarrassed. They were humiliated. Like a lot of parents with determined, independent children, they felt rejected. They thought her choices rebuked theirs.
“We are ducks who have hatched a wild swan,” her mother once lamented. But a favorable biographer responded perfectly: “It was not a swan they had hatched: in the famous phrase of Lytton Strachey’s essays—it was an eagle.”
You can’t hold your children back. You can’t resent that they’re different. Their choices say nothing about your choices. They are their own person. They deserve their own life. Especially talented and brave mavericks like Nightingale.
Our job is to help them become who they are. Our job is to be a fan. Our job is to support them. Our job is to encourage them. In whatever direction that takes us or them. That’s what we’re here for.
We can’t forget it.
P.S. This was originally sent on January 28, 2021. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”