You have a lot to worry about with your own family. You have a house to keep clean. A job that’s tough and by no means safe. Kids you have to make sure not only eat and get good grades, but don’t get in trouble. You have to make sure that they are on a track to be successful in life.
This is already so much more than you can possibly handle. How the hell are you supposed to find time and energy to care about other people’s kids? People who you don’t even know, who make choices you don’t agree with, who don’t have near what you have on your plate. That’s your problem? Yes it is. And you’re going to have to make time and find energy for them. Because the stakes are high.
Charles Loring Brace, a family friend of the Roosevelts back in Teddy’s day, made the argument more than 150 years ago that it was a big deal that the streets of New York City were filling up with groups “of vagabonds, ignorant, ungoverned children.” It was more than just an eyesore or a shame, more than just an injustice, he proclaimed to the family, it was also a threat to the Republic. Someday, he said, these kids are going to be voters. It was for this reason that Brace and Roosevelt helped set up the first Newsboys Lodging House, a charity boarding house that helped get these young orphans and neglected children off the street.
It’s not enough just to care about your kids. As your kids grow up, they will inhabit a world filled with the people who are being neglected, abused, or underserved. You could argue that right now, so much of our political mess—this rampant, ignorant populism and racism—is rooted in past generational failure. People seemed to forget that there would be consequences to outsourcing, to budget cuts, to pollution, to over policing and the drug wars, to ‘every family for themselves’, to ending your empathy at the edge of your front lawn. Eventually the children of the people affected by that attitude and those policies would grow up and vote…or not vote. And that would be everyone’s problem.
We have to care about other people’s kids. We have to care about everyone. Because eventually the cost of our callousness will be borne by our kids. Being selfish is not only stupid, it’s counter productive. It‘s being selfless that is actually best for the self. We have to care.
“Thou Shall Think Like A Village” is one of the commandments in The Stoic Parent: 10 Commandments For Becoming A Better Parent. The Stoic Parent course is 10 days of the most important things that you can do to become the best parent you can be. If you want to take your parenting to the next level, sign up for The Stoic Parent today!