There is perhaps no remark responsible for more banal evil than this one: I don’t want my kid to be negatively affected. This is what parents say—and have said for generations—in objection to just about any change, whether it was integrating schools or equal playing time in youth sports. Sure, we say to ourselves, I’m as sympathetic as the next person to the plight of others, but I don’t want my kid to fall behind. I don’t want to sacrifice their college admissions chances. I don’t want them to lose this opportunity…or lose, period.
As we’ve talked about before, in this hyper competitive world of ours, the most dangerous thing to lose sight of is the distinction between your kids and our kids. We can come to see even the slightest effort towards collectivism or helping the less fortunate as a threat—as if the world is zero sum, as if the only lesson to teach your kids is that “winning matters most.”
It’s OK for your kid to be negatively affected from time to time. They’ll survive. How can you be confident of that? Because they have you! They have parents who care. They have parents who can use this as an opportunity to teach them what’s really important and what their obligations are as human beings, to teach them how to be resilient, how to understand that the obstacle is the way.
The world is better when more people have it better—not when a privileged few have every advantage secured and every difficulty eliminated. Waiting in line builds character. Being around people different than you builds perspective and empathy. Learning you’re not that special is critical to keeping ego in check. Of course, you want your kids’ lives to be good—but that doesn’t mean things will never be hard, never be unfair, never be less than ideal.
So come to terms with that. So they can too, and be better for it.
It’s fitting that we are talking about this idea that the obstacle is the way because over at the Daily Stoic, we just released a limited edition premium version of The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. The Obstacle is the Way has sold millions of copies worldwide and people have worn out their copies over the years. We wanted to create something that could become a kind of family heirloom—something that can be read as a family, generation after generation after generation. So we found the best Bible manufacturer in the United States to make a leather edition with a gold foil-stamped cover, gilded-edge pages printed on premium-grade Munken paper. The first production run has only a limited quantity so to learn more about what makes this edition so special and to order your copy, head over to dailystoic.com/obstacleleather.