The Debt Is Paid Forward

We do so much for our kids. We drive them around. We provide for them. We entertain them. And of course, there are parents who do even more. Parents who packed up and moved across the world for a better life for their kids. Parents who gave their lives for their kids.

How much do children understand these sacrifices? How much do they appreciate it? Not fully, that’s for sure. But that’s OK—because it’s not theirs to understand, it’s not theirs to appreciate. As we’ve said before, we owe our kids everything. We’re the ones that brought them into this world. They don’t owe us anything except to be themselves.

In his biography of the physicist Richard Feynman, the author James Glieck, writes about the sacrifices of generations of Jewish parents who had emigrated, who had worked factory jobs, went hungry so their kids could eat, sent them to college,, set them up to be successful without so much as a thanks. “Ultimately for the sacrifice of his parents,” he explains of their philosophy, “a child owes no debt—or rather the debt is paid to his own children in turn.”

This is the perfect way to think about it. We give our kids unconditional love and support with one little tiny expectation attached—that they do the same to their kids. They don’t have to pay us back for anything, they only have to pay it forward. And on and on and on and on.


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