I’m amazed that all of my children at relatively young ages, have all asked the “Big Questions” humanity has struggled with since the dawn of time.
• “Why are we here?”
• “What’s the meaning of life?”
• “Why is there life?”
An innocent question loaded with a variety of answers, eagerly awaiting our wisdom.
So how, as parents, do we address such awesome questions, that many of us grapple with the answers ourselves?
For those readers with strong religious beliefs or backgrounds, this may be easier to answer then folks, like myself, with little rigor in religious practices.
I wasn’t comfortable answering “because of God” simply because when I asked as a child, that answer did NOT satisfy me. Even if this is may be the “right answer,” I challenge us to provide children something more tangible to encourage wonderment and reflection.
After years of deliberation trying to find ways to answer the “Big Questions” that would not be in conflict with religious beliefs, that would inspire critical thought, promote a healthy state of well being, yet was tangible enough for young people to grasp, my answer is:
“To learn, experience, connect, and contribute.”
My hope is that these four themes address the “Big Questions: and nurture other parenting challenges along the way. Let’s break this down:
“Learning” is a child’s natural state of being. However, sometimes the learning process atrophies as we age and we get more stuck in our ways instead of maintaining the glorious childlike curiosity throughout life. If learning is a part of the answer to the “Big Questions,” perhaps it inspires lifelong learning.
“Experiencing” inspires us to get out and subtly gives permission to make mistakes to apply learning in an accepting way that evokes reflection.
“Connecting” is the glue that binds us in relationships. It is a critical source of life satisfaction.
“Contributing” applies to how we make the world a better place and how we have a sense of purpose.
What has been a surprising byproduct of this exercise is having my children remind me of the purpose of life when I drift into the muck of everyday challenges. For example, when a presentation for work did not go well and I was upset about it, my oldest said, “You know Mom, the purpose of life is to learn, grow, connect and contribute, while your job may not have gone well today, I bet you learned a lot and can grow from the experience.”
Wow… Gulp! An innocence answer full of wisdom…