to Personal Touch Articles
The Most Important Task For Parents
When The most important task of parenting
is often the most neglected. You have not succeeded as a parent
until you complete this task. Today, too many parents for too
many reasons neglect this task, but ultimately the reason is
that parenting is hard work, and completing the task of parenting
can be very challenging.
The purpose of having children is not to create human beings
who will take care of you when you are old. Nor is it to produce
offspring that can fulfill your personal fantasies. Most parents
would like to produce children who can live as they would liked
to have lived, if they had had the opportunity to fulfill all
The purpose of parenting is to produce individuals who will
one day leave the nest, and live independent and successful
lives. It is this emphasis upon independence and self-sufficiency
that is the most sacred of all parenting roles. It is the lack
of independence in far too many young adults who reply upon
their parents for financial support that allows me to postulate
that parenting is not complete until your children are successfully
Religions that worship ancestors may not agree with this assessment.
These religions teach children to be responsible for their parents
when they are old. Producing children for your own ends hardly
qualifies as a sacred task. It appears a selfish task disguised
as religion. Is it generated from the fear of old age?
When I, as the oldest son, left Australia at 19 and went to
a foreign country to study and experience life, my mother expressed
that her ‘empire began to crumble’. She later told
me that this began for her a long dark period where she had
to reassess her life, her purpose and her future, as one by
one her children left the nest. My mother’s life purpose
appeared to be finished in her forties, as she had no other
career. She had to rediscover herself and create a new purpose.
Today many children never leave the nest. In Italy, many traditional
mothers try to keep their sons children forever, and the world
romanticizes it as a delightful attitude. Many Asian parents
guilt trip their children into caring for them as they grow
old, and use the tradition of ancestry worship to enable the
guilt to take hold. Both cultures place a premium on male babies
over female babies because male babies can be of more financial
help to parents when they are old.
Parenting is not just about watching Johnny play soccer on Saturday
morning; it is also about getting Johnny ready to make his way
in the world. This teaching of independence is often the missing
piece in parenting today. Many parents attempt to take upon
themselves the burden of providing financial support for their
adult children. This can produce feelings of entitlement and
expectations on the adult child’s part that such support
is always forthcoming and is to be expected.
Nature is very cruel in teaching independence. For example,
eagles birth their young high up in nests on top of mountains
away from predators. And one day, when the mother decides the
time is right; she instinctively nudges the baby out of the
nest. Down it falls until it opens its wings and flies. If,
however, it fails to fly, it dies. Not romantic, but realistic
in a cruel and challenging world.
Have we created a generation of entitled young people who believe
the world owes them everything? Have we crippled our young people
by robbing them of the lessons of self-sufficiency and autonomy?
Parenting requires the lessons of self-sufficiency be taught
from the very beginning of life. Parents who do not teach independence
will cripple their children’s emotional development.
If you have taught your children well, they will love you forever.
If you have failed, you will not have a relationship with your
grown children. Either way, the loving family bond is produced
in childhood and solidified after they leave the nest. If, after
leaving, they love you for your participation in their lives
you are blessed. If they never leave the nest, parents may have
failed in their primary task of producing independent healthy
back to top