Sunday, 18 August 2013

roots & wings

A work colleague of mine was telling me about her brother's 'experiment' with raising his children. He believes children should have no boundaries, discipline or certainties. That adults shouldn't poison the minds of children with any notion of values, beliefs, religion or spirituality. That they have to find things out totally for themselves. They are free to do what they like, when they like, how they like. If they don't want to go to school they don't have to. If they don't want to eat their dinner it's ok. No consequences of their actions are given.

Feral and horrendous were her words to describe how the experiment was going. She dreaded them coming over because they destroyed her house, had no respect for her property or her, no respect for others, they lived as entities unto themselves..... and her brother just let them run riot.

Children need roots. We all need roots. We all need some certainties in this world of constant change. A strong sense of security in our own family and home is a must to growing healthy, fulfilled children. The literature on positive parenting input far outweighs the alternate experimental no boundaries approach as suggested above.

To expect there is only black & white is naive, there are certainly many shades of grey. I think a part of parenting is also preparing our children for the incredible ambiguities that do exist, often with no simple answers. To foster in them the ability to seek their own answers is vital, not spoon feeding them, but giving them roots to set this in. I still believe we have to give our children roots & some certainties, some grounding, some boundaries to provide stability, consistency and a sense of belonging.

Too much freedom can be a curse.

I couldn't help but wonder what kind of false reality are they providing for their children. A world where their every whim is catered for, with no consequences for their actions, no sense of right or wrong, just one big grey world where self is at the centre. Maybe I am old fashioned but it doesn't seem like the best way to raise children. Alternate yes, but healthy, hmmmm not so sure.

Roots also create a sense of belonging. I often quote Maslow's hierarchy of needs, apologies for the repetition, however it does create a framework that is a fairly accurate reflection of human needs. We see safety and security as no. 2 at the base of the pyramid. Indicating after the basics of food, water, shelter, roots are a close second, foundational to who we are.

If the roots aren't solid then everything else is impacted; self esteem, confidence, respect for others etc and this influences the choices our children will make as they grow. Their wings. 

Their ability to fly above criticism, above the injustices in the world and workplaces they will find themselves in, to fly with their potential, in relationships, to seize opportunities and be considerate of others. When we all think of people we admire and would like to be like, it is usually not the self-absorbed narcissist that springs to mind first. They are usually on the list of 'who not to be like'.

We usually first admire the Mother Theresa's of this world, who love unconditionally, give sacrificially and live with integrity convicted by their values and beliefs.

Giving our children roots & wings takes hard work. Lot's of devoted time, energy & consistency. Yet it's an investment that sets them up for life.

Grateful for the parenting friends in our lives who inspire with their parenting styles, who have modelled & given their children the gifts of roots and wings.

Cherishing the time to invest
Cherishing the gifts of roots
Cherishing the gift of wings


  1. Love your use of Maslow's hierarchy, and I like the analogy of roots and wings. I love this verse in Colossians (2:7), shows the childhood we can give our children:
    I am firmly rooted, built up, established in my faith and overflowing with gratitude

    Raising children experimentally without doing any research is like playing chicken with a truck without researching the possible ramifications. To not be hit by a truck = nothing changes but to be hit by the truck = lives ruined.

  2. Thanks Nadine, yes that verse of ancient wisdom certainly fits perfectly! Thanks for sharing & agree with your analogy of the truck & chicken. Hopefully his children don't end up hit by the truck.....