My older three children are all grown up now, in their early twenties. They grew up with similar values to me, making similar lifestyle choices to my own, which surprised me. I think this is something I can pass on to other parents with confidence, because I wish someone had warned me about the extent to which we subconsciously influence our children.
Having said that, I’m very happy with my life and my choices – and they seem to be very happy with theirs too! So, having given it some deep thought I can say for sure that even if I’d have known how much of an influence I was going to be, I’d have done much the same thing anyway. This plan is still underway for me, and the others are as free to stay or go as they ever were.
There were other things I could have done, like trying to create artificial challenges for them when they were children, to spur them on to this, that or the other artificial goal. If they’d have seemed to need this, I’d have done it. But they didn’t. They seemed to need consistency, stability, access to things that interested them and space to figure out things for themselves.
I answered questions, every time – but as older children and teenagers they increasingly found their own answers, to their own satisfaction. I became increasingly a housekeeper, someone to bounce ideas off and process thinking with, and a taxi driver. It felt good at the time, and it feels good now. The best role model we can give our children is, I think, just to be our own authentic selves – the best version of that we can be! Anything else would seem false, and children do know the difference.
They’re all creative to some degree: the oldest has a business which no longer needs marketing and carries on by recommendations alone – something to be quite proud of, I think. The younger ones help with that and have their own plans underway. The actual, current children have up to four adults on hand most of the time, so it’s really good for them.
As a family, we are happy, productive, mostly amiable – and solvent. On balance, it seems like a successful outcome to me. And most crucially, the adult offspring agree. They want their younger siblings to enjoy the same autonomous education they had, and say they will educate their own children the same way.