We were given two parents. Or maybe one. Or maybe more. All of our upbringings were different, and outside of our control. We didn’t get to decide who our mom was or who our dad was, if they got divorced, if they were present, if our stepparents were a blessing or a nightmare.
But what we do control, as Seneca said, is whose children we decide to be. We decide whose model we’ll follow. We decide what tradition to carry forward and which to reject, which lineage we inherit. Maybe your parents sucked and so you decided to be the child of a grandparent, who showed you what unconditional love and support was. Maybe your parents were great and you’ve decided to follow their model. Maybe you didn’t have any parents, so you channel the example of a Mr. Rogers or a Shari Lewis.
Steven Pressfield’s fantastic new novel, A Man at Arms, is the story of two young children who lose their guardians. They find inspiration and protection and a tradition in a nomadic warrior who takes them on a mission. As Pressfield has one of the characters say, “If the child indeed can identify no father of blood, it seems to me that heaven will take scant offense if she chooses, now, one of her own.”
What will it be for you? Who will you choose? And more importantly, now that you have kids of your own, are you living in such a way that they would choose to be your child? Because soon enough they will have a choice.