There’s no question your kids are in for a rude awakening. They grew up almost entirely around people who cared about them—in some cases, people who care about them more than anything in the world. That is, they will discover one day soon, not the real world. Or at least, not the whole world.
There are a lot of selfish people out there. Cruel people. Stupid people. Even evil people. Sometimes they’re all one person. Your kids are going to meet some of these people. Are they ready? But perhaps a better question is, are you ready? To make sure—as we’ve said—that your cynicism does not affect your children too early. We can’t pass on the psychic burden of our own experiences and frustrations with the people from our past.
There’s a great children’s book called Most People that reminds us…most people are good. Most people are trying as hard as they can. Most people will help you if they can. Most people want the same things, the book says. Most people are happy…and even the people who aren’t, its author reminds us, would rather be happy if they could.
This is the difficult tension we have to resolve as parents. We have to prepare our children for a world that is not all sunshine and kittens. We also have to get them to understand that the darkness in the world is not complete. In fact, it’s distinctly the minority.
We want our kids to carry the fire, to keep the brightness alive. We want them to seek it out in other people. And we want them to be like most people: Good. Kind. Happy. Helpful.
It’s we who will chart that path.