In keeping with the lighter fare on the blog in these summer months (summer in England being decidedly relative, btw) I decided to post Tom Friedman’s essay from today’s times http://select.nytimes.com/2007/06/27/opinion/27friedman.html?hp.I really liked this piece and think it is an important read for all parents, especially at this time of year when we find our children more in our direct care and when they are watching us most closely and most often (especially we fathers who are taking much needed vacation time to “spend with the family”). I often find myself asking what I would like my son’s to be when they are grown. Like all parents, I want them to be healthy and happy and find a career and family life that fulfills them. My wife and I work very hard to make those hopes a reality. However, how often do I say that what I really want for them is to grow into moral men, kind and compassionate, who treat others with dignity and respect? It is so easy to forget, in our hyper-competitive, globalized world, that raising moral children is what we are really tasked with, not children who can get into Harvard or do graduate work at Oxbridge. I am reminded of Cato’s famous line that the most important service a citizen could render to the state is raising his son correctly. Cato of course knew exactly what he meant by “correctly”, ie a noble Roman, who had made all the particularly Roman virtues a habit of his soul.
Friedman’s piece gives us hope that if we raise our children well, they will also be more competitive and more likely to succeed in the world which we are giving them. That is no small matter or hope. However, it does remain largely beside the point.