As parents it’s our job to raise our children to grow up and make the world a better place, it’s our job to support them in whatever way we can to help them flourish and become the type of adults that we know we would want to be friends with, have as our neighbours and who can change the world and make it a little bit kinder, a little bit friendlier, maybe even a little bit more tolerant.
That doesn’t stop when they are teenagers or even adults, we support our children and help them grow. We are parents, forever, from the moment that we see that blue line on a pregnancy test to the scan photo we pass around to family and friends to the birth of our child and right through to when we are no longer on this mortal plain. In fact, in a recent study conducted by Legal and General’s “Forever a Parent” research, over 90% of parents feel responsible for their adult child’s overall wellbeing. 90% – that’s huge. We never switch off, never cease to want to see our children, no matter their age, happy and flourishing. We never stop trying to look after them or teach them to be responsible members of society.
When we were driving home last week Toby suddenly decided to pop up with a totally random question of “Mummy, can you marry your sister?” Resisting the urge to holler “Erm, no buddy that’s just… yeah, just NO!” we (read I, Adam would never get himself in this situation!) decided to explain a little bit about genealogy and why it would, in fact, be a bad idea to marry your sister. What a wally I am. The following ensued:
“Ok Toby, you can’t marry your sister because you both have very similar genes. So you are one half of Daddy’s genes and one half of my genes and those genes make up you. When the genes are too similar it can cause a problem for any babies you might produce because it would be trying to mash too much of the same together…”
Que a smugly satisfied nod towards Adam… until:
“But what if you don’t have babies?”, “How would you mix your genes up to have babies?”, “Can you marry your mummy or is that too close for all the gene things?”. Like with all things we threw in a touch of honesty, a dash of shall-we-listen-to-Disney-songs and a pinch of “Let’s talk about dinosaurs”, but they weren’t to be deterred on this occasion. The questions turned away from incest and moved towards other areas. Reuben asked if a boy could marry a boy and from previous chats Toby declared that “YES! You can marry anyone you love, it doesn’t matter if they are a boy or a girl!” (proud mama bear moment there) and then to our surprise Reuben threw in a “Can you marry a black person if you’re white?”
We’ve talked briefly about skin colour in the past, but something that Adam said in this instance was really profound and it took me aback but also made me well up slightly. He said “Reuben, what you need to know about skin colour is that it’s like a rainbow. Rainbows are so beautiful, they make the world a better place. Skin colour is like that – full of different colours, all beautiful, the more we have the more beautiful the world is.”
It’s lovely isn’t it? It’s a really touching analogy and it goes back to what I said earlier about it being our job as parents to raise children to make the world a better place and to support them in whatever way we can. Our family is a small part of that rainbow, but we’re all connected by it, just in the way that parents are always connected to their children by that bond. We want our children to know that as they grow they will be able to show love to their fellow human, in the way that we will always show love to them.
As a part of the “Forever a Parent” research that I mentioned earlier, Legal and General surveyed over 1000 parents with children aged between 18 and 40, aimed at highlighting the importance of parents taking steps to safeguard their children. Out of the 900 that felt responsible for their child’s overall wellbeing, almost half (47%) had taken out life insurance to ensure that even when they can’t be around to help their child anymore with advice, they will be able to help them financially. According to the research financial security for our children, even when they are adults is a big concern for most (76%) parents, I know it is for myself and I know my financial security is a concern for my mum. It all rolls back to never stopping being that parent, even when your children are gaining the greys and think that they are old enough to know best.