The Two Key Secrets for Raising Happy Children

This article originally published at Ezine Articles in 2011.

The Two Key Secrets for Raising Happy Children

by Amber Greene.

029 - happy children of kıyıköy

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.

Hodding Carter.

No matter how complicated raising children can seem, our role as parents is simply to nurture just two things: Roots and Wings. We give our children roots through the connections we build over the years. A stable home life (perhaps even one house for the entire length of their childhood), in a familiar town, surrounded by people we know and love are three indispensable factors to ensure the strength of their underground network. Roots thrive in the place where the lessons of love, life and the abc’s are learned. Our roots penetrate downwards and sideways when we know where we are from, have a sense of continuity from the past to the present and a connection to the culture we call our own through storytelling and the sharing of memories. Roots are immortalised by the celebrations we remember for life: mama slaving in the kitchen making your Women’s Weekly cookbook-inspired birthday cake each year, the unwrapping of the Christmas ornaments on December first, Bing Crosby on the I-Pod or the first waft of cinnamon and nutmeg from the pumpkin pie recipe that only Grandma can make just right. These moments, when the world seems safe and stable and steady, are joyful interludes on the journey of life.

Daily parenting is the job of roots, teaching too. Each morning, predictably, we immerse the children in our routines and rhythms of the day. The sun rises and sets, we expend our energy and rest to regain equilibrium, we eat to muster our strength and sit quietly to digest our nourishment. Our home lives ground the children, blessing them with the ability to stay put and stay focused, to begin tasks and complete them, to be responsible and friendly and kind. Roots campaign for values and morals, for a life lived well, within boundaries. Roots also hold us firmly to the ground in times of harsh weather and unwelcome change. They are the threads that bind us when we feel like we are falling apart. Through roots, we find nourishment and food and water and health. Roots let us grow.

Wings, in complete contrast, encourage us to fly. Wings sprout, like tiny buds, on our backs and prod us to take a leap and bound. With the blessings of the angels we soar. Wings may take us from our families and friends, to seek new roads and passages, away from our homes and countries. We go with a sword of courage held high, a golden sun behind our backs urging us forward, willing us not to return until we are done. Wings let us make friends with destiny, to places where language is no barrier. Wings let us dream and once a dream takes hold, we believe that our dream must be attainable for no one is given a challenge or a success they cannot bear. Wings urge us to grow, to let go of the chains that bind us to thoughts of security and mortgages and superannuation. Our wings help us turn imaginations into realities. When we stretch our feathers towards the unknown, we meet new friends, enjoy grand random experiences and see the world through fresh, open eyes. Wings fly us to places of exuberant tastes, and our senses delight in their findings. Wings help us soar above the ordinary to a place of untold adventure.

In life, we need a happy balance of roots and wings. When the pull of one or the other is stronger, and we don’t heed the call, there is pain. Roots implore us home when we are sick or lonely or tired, or when our loved ones are in pain. They are the safety net, the blanket that wraps us and lulls us to sleep.

Wings call us again, when we have been too long with responsibility and the daily routine. Wings shout an echo to shake us up, to goad us to live deeply and passionately and to laugh once again with the wild. When we hear the rustle of a wing in motion, some kind of movement is necessary. Refusing the call of wings invites restlessness into your lounge. Take notice.

While the gift of roots and wings is seemingly the birthright of every human being, it is also the responsibility of mothers and fathers and grandmas and grandpa’s and extended families and friends to bear down and lift up the children. We must water the root systems with our love AND call upon the sun and the wind. Like the big old oak tree who stands for hundreds of years and offers his branches to the birds for their nests, we too must provide them with a rock solid foundation and also the creative means to prosper. When we are successful in our quest. our children will approach life with a happy, determined and grateful outlook. When we look back, we can be proud of the job we have done.

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