Sick of hearing about food shortages, fuel shortages, wars, corrupt governments, the rise of totalitarianism, the rise of populism? The list goes on…
Many people are – I’m sure – terrified and turn away from what’s going on in the world in order to focus on their little bit of it. The bit they feel they may have a measure of influence over. The rest is “above their pay grade” they might say.
However, we live in a world that is entirely inter-connected. So you can’t escape it. What you do in the privacy of your own home matters. Your habits, your addictions, your communication. It all matters, and increasingly so.
A Concerning Cultural Context – “Wokeness”
It’s important that we pay attention to the rise of Wokeness, for example, and to challenge it (in whatever way suits us) wherever we can. Because its supporters do not understand the outcome of the philosophies that they often unwittingly base their ideas upon. See the Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to find out more.
This smattering of loud, suffering individuals, have been conned into believing that they all share a common cause and enemy. The ideology they’ve fallen prey to is a lesser issue to deal with these days, unfortunately. But nonetheless, it’s like a backside that needs to be wiped so we can get on with our day.
But yes, the best action to take is local, whilst bearing in mind the context in which that action will occur. Self first, then family/community, then wider groups and issues. This is responsibility. Unless you have yourself right, you will be useless (and likely destructive) to everyone else.
Parenting in Trouble Times
One of my all consuming focuses is parenting. The task of ensuring that my kids are brought up correctly, is significant. What to feed, cloth and wash them with, considering how many invasive synthetic fibres and chemicals are “normal” ingredients of such things nowadays. What do growth-promoting routines look like, what stories do they need to hear, what experiences are appropriate/inappropriate/inappropriate but necessary… Which people make for good company or support and which are unconsciously detrimental forces… All whilst ensuring the income and other resources are available for current needs and for the potential abyss our society is staring into. Yet recognising the opportunities (such as – greater personal responsibility, simpler more fulfilling lifestyles, closer connections with loved ones, and others) that are available nonetheless… Demonstrating this optimism in the face of increasing daily pressures.
It’s a very big burden, with very serious consequences for everyone, particularly when the kids leave home. But not short in its moments of joy, rememberings of simpler times and purer spaces within ourselves. As we experience our children discovering all of the newness available in the world, with audible wonder and excitement.
The Importance of Storytelling for Children
A growth area for my parenting right now is storytelling. The stories we tell our children form, in them, a map of meaning, which enables them to link information and experiences together. This narrative stretches back through their personal and societal past and ahead into their future. This narrative acts as a sort of guiding rope from the middle of the ocean into which they’ve been plunged, toward the shore of a balanced and fulfilling life.
So it is very important that we pass on good stories.
The stories our children learn come through the media, school, TV, relatives, signs and posters, background noise… Information encountered everywhere contributes toward the creation of a worldview in their little minds (and our own ..). Unfortunately, we are surrounded by a largely regressive popular culture, full of stories that teach us to be juvenile and dependent… Hence the rising prominence of emotionally-led and virtue signalling activist groups touting irrational demands.
You can learn a lot about so-called “social justice” groups (a far cry from the character and quality of MLK) these days, by observing a two year old having a tantrum.
“I don’t like you!” screamed the Tiny Tyrant as she stomped and tore at the tie-dye tutu she had been so happy to buy with Daddy that morning.
Telling the Stories of a Better World
So… the world’s clean air is now contaminated by bad stories. But it is within our power to find (and critical for us to promote) – most enthusiastically – the ones that will serve as a guiding light and leave a lasting impression . Those where hero’s give our children something to aim for. Where villains give them something to watch out for. Where both give them something to own and transform within their nature(!) This is before we even consider the benefits that come from supporting their capacity to think creatively and imaginatively. We need them to do so, in order to come up with novel solutions to the challenges of our time.
So how do we discern what a good story is?
It’s a great rabbit-hole to go down and I don’t have a clear answer yet. But I’ve been taking a lot of influence from Swiss polymath, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). He advocated for classic fairy tales. But not just reading them over and again, with perhaps a little bit of flair and funny character voices.
Steiner suggests that we really learn the stories. We should connect with them, receiving deep insights that unlock the hidden meaning of their symbolism. We should convey all of this in our own recital of the stories. Nuanced understanding – however subtle – influences our storytelling style and transmits deeper meanings than the conscious mind can comprehend.
The Importance of Being a Terrible Storyteller!
As a busy adult, it’s a struggle to fit all of this study in. So taking a leaf out of the Scrum Development handbook, I iterate. I tell a new story, fumbling with words, using the same voices for different characters, losing track during long sentences of Victorian English… But with each telling, my understanding and charisma grows. The message is passed on more clearly and the audience more enthralled asking “What next, Daddy?”
For any Dads in a similar situation, I recommend getting the Complete Grimm’s Fairytales. There’s a selection for all ages (3+ ish). Start with “Sweet Porridge”. Just have a crack.
If anything in this post has struck a chord and you wish to discuss improvements you can make with your parenting, I look forward to hearing from you. The more balanced children we have, the better.
But it is of course difficult to get a good balance with the many competing demands in our interesting period of history. If you are seeking to be a better father, no matter where you are right now, perhaps you could use some support to assess your priorities and how to fit them all in. If so, have a go at my Purpose Life Planner (a part of the Purpose In Action Toolkit). It’s designed to help you clarify your top priority (Critical Success – snazzy name) area, craft a SMART goal to improve it, create an actionable plan toward the goal and build a system to help you execute that plan, tracking your progress as you go. It’s all free, but I do ask that you give me a review for using it. You can get in touch to find out how later on. For now, enjoy.