You wouldn’t think of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius as a parenting book.
The former Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said all entrepreneurs, economists and politicians should read Meditations (and several American presidents have too). General James Mattis said every soldier should read Meditations. Actors recommend it to others in show business. Athletes recommend it to others in sports. Writers recommend it to other writers. Founders recommend it to others setting out to start a business.
But every parent should read it too. As Brand Blandshard would observe in 1984,
“Few care now about the marches and countermarches of the Roman commanders. What the centuries have clung to is a notebook of thoughts by a man whose real life was largely unknown who put down in the midnight dimness not the events of the day or the plans of the morrow, but something of far more permanent interest, the ideals and aspirations that a rare spirit lived by.”
Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? Isn’t that what we are trying to instill in our children? The essences of that rare spirit of a human being? Isn’t that what we want our kids to take and apply throughout their lives?
Of course, there are no guarantees. Look at Marcus Aurelius’ own children as an example. Marcus was wise and just…and still, something went terribly wrong with his son Commodus. Perhaps his dedication to strive to be a good man and a good ruler was why he fell short at home.
We’ll never know. All we can do is learn from both his example and his mistakes. This is a hard job we’ve committed to. The stakes are high. Kids don’t just turn out as good people. They are nurtured into good people. They need to be guided by your example. They need to be taught the ideals and aspirations that other rare spirits lived by.
Then they may one day be worthy of lasting and permanent interest.