Jean-Henri Fabre, a great French naturalist once conducted an experiment with caterpillars, the ones that tend to march in unison. He lined them around the inner edge of a flower-pot and then watched them march in circle.
After about 3 days, he placed some pine needles, which is the favorite food of caterpillars, at the center of the pot.
Sadly, the caterpillars continued marching in the same routinely manner for another 4 days and then died of starvation just inches away from the food.
These caterpillars remind me of our own lives as parents where we are so preoccupied with the daily routines of life that we completely loose sight of our children and their development.
You may ask how is this similar to the caterpillar story, how is food related to our children.
The similarity is that at the end of the day our lives cant be just about ourselves where we are so focused on our daily mundane routines, working like a donkey all our lives and forgetting to enjoy our limited time here in this vast world which is meant to be an adventure and a journey of seeking truth and happiness.
Yes, of course there are many things that needs our focus away from our routine lives but as parents we are more privileged to be Mothers and Fathers to our children; nurturing them, playing with them, educating them, protecting them, providing for them is more crucial than any other aspect in life.
Research tells us that amongst the top 3 things people generally regret while they are on their death bed is wishing that they had spent more time with the people they love.
So, aren’t our children most dearest and beloved to us?
We can’t say that we have lived our lives to the fullest if we have failed in the very basic task to start with which is parenting; to influence our children in a positive way and leave a legacy for them so that the world can continue to be a better place. That can be our worst regret. Does this mean we need to be perfect and get it all right in the first-go? By no means! None of us then would qualify.
Well, fortunately we don’t have to do this on our own. As Christians parents, we have been given a mandate from God to bring up our children in godly ways and He guides us every step of the way, giving us the grace and wisdom we so desperately need.
Our responsibility as parents doesn’t end with just providing financial support but it goes beyond that where we also provide the emotional and mental support necessary for our children’s well-being.
Leaving this world with lots of money in our children’s pocket will in fact do more harm than anything else. Instead, what they need more importantly besides that is a value system that will help them survive the challenges of their generation and also teach them life lessons that will make their life meaningful.
Maybe that’s the reason why Gordon Ramsay, the famous chef decided that his fortune wont be going to his children in his will. He said in an interview “It’s definitely not going to them, and that’s not in a mean way; it’s to not spoil them,”
What children really need is our attention and affection, and if we can achieve that by not being too pre-occupied with our daily routines of life, then we’ve achieved a lot.
Most of the troubles we experience with our children as they grow up are linked directly to the increasing isolation and detachment from us.
As Parents, we need to take a step back and look at our lives from a birds eye view. Instead of behaving like the ignorant caterpillars, can we see the riches around us in the form of our children and prioritize our lives for the better?