Thought of the Day: The Self-Mastery Required to Care for Children

To remain calm with children for an extended period of time demands great self-mastery.

Any mom or preschool teacher will tell you: all the pulling, whining, spills, bickering etc is enough to drive almost every human being into high-stress mode. Child are also wonderful, of course, with their enormous grins, gleeful dances and purity of heart and emotion. But they are just like us grown-ups: they have bad moods and tantrums and accidents, so when you are with children long enough, eventually you encounter this. And to remain calm during a meltdown, especially with added stressful events such as car breakdowns, injuries, or just a dumped-out bin of legos, requires the utmost of inner-serenity and mastery. A person who does this well, and I have seen a few of them, is often very wise and spiritually advanced to have acquired this level of self-possession.

It is odd and troubling that our economy does not value this at all. Stay-at-home parents, daycare workers and teachers are really not well-respected or high-paying positions in our economy. But they are incredibly important and noble. A good parent or teacher can build up a child; a bad one can tear a child to pieces. And this matters because each of the little children grow up, formed by their life experiences, into adults who must function or attempt to function in the world, who will later determine the shape of the social world. That doesn’t mean adults should take personal responsibility for the outcomes of children, but our actions and behavior toward them really do make an impact, a formative impact. So at the very least, we should accept responsibility for our actions toward children and strive to make them as balanced, calm and caring as possible.

This is just one key example where money does not measure value.


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