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The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, May 27, 2011

The role of a parent.

The role of a parent is to try to raise a child greater than the one they were, and to give that child a better childhood, than they had.

At least, that is what I aspire to do - though whether I succeed or not, I will leave for others to judge. After all, posterity will see more of the totality of my children's lives, than I am likely to.

I have written the thought, above, for a good reason. I have noted that some parents seem competitive with their children. These parents would never wish the child to grow to be greater than they are. Indeed, they do all they can to frustrate the child's ambitions, consciously or otherwise. To my mind, such "parents" don't know what it means to be a parent. A true parent aspires to nurture a person greater than themselves. The greatest success a parent can have is to be outshone, by one's children. In truth, of course, the parent is not eclipsed by the child's achievements, but revealed by them - for in them, lies evidence of the parents' ability to nurture the growth of another human being, to guide their offspring to greatness, of whatever kind.

A parent is not made greater, by being greater than their children. A parent is made greater, if their children are "greater" than they were, for, in so achieving, the parent has succeeded in creating a more nurturant life, for their offspring, than they must have had themselves. So, paradoxical as it might seem, the greatest success a parent can have is to raise children greater than themselves. Raising children is the ultimate act of creativity - one of infinite complexity and subtlety. To do that so well, that the child seems greater than the parent, is true greatness indeed.

Contrast this attitude and outlook, to those parents who seek to overshadow their children and thereby make themselves seem "greater". It is a more common attitude than might be supposed. Many a mother, with an attractive daughter, finds herself dressing to compete for attention, with her young offspring. It is a foolish way to feel. I am pleased that my children are better looking than I am. I do not feel lesser by comparison, but, in fact, feel enhanced that they are so attractive. Indeed, I am delighted by every manner in which they do things which I could not, or which differ, in some way, from the child I was, in an interesting fashion.

Perhaps it could be said that a sane parent delights in every accomplishment of their children - and that an insane one may resent them.

What those who are uncomfortable watching their children's talents grow, perhaps into areas in which their own never flourished, should imbibe is that the more brightly the child shines, the more light they throw upon their parents. A parent is never lessened, by the greatness of their child. In fact, the greatness of a parent, may be defined by the greatness of the child. The greatest parents of all, are those who manage, through their words, deeds and choices, to create children that others consider to surpass them. What the observers overlook, however, is that to create a being that surpasses oneself, is to show skill as a parent, that none may surpass.

I would like nothing more than to bring children into this world, who are better than me, in every way. Now, I don't know if this is possible, but at least, by trying to do so, I am aspiring to be the best parent, anyone can be. As a parting thought, it seems to me that, if all parents, tried to make children greater than themselves, that this world would, very soon, become a much better place than it is. Of course, it must not be forgotten, that this goal of generational advance, cannot be achieved by pushing the children. They must instead be encouraged, nurtured, guided, loved and most importantly, listened to. Nowhere, in this particular parenting recipe, is there any room for "pushing". That, in my view, is always going to fail.

Happy parenting all. May your children be greater than you are! I can think of no better blessing - nor one that could change the world, more, for the better.


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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 2:04 AM 

2 Comments:

OpenID 7sigma said...

Some parents' actions have the same stultifying effect on their children, but rather than being driven by a desire to compete, the parents are simply misguided.

My own parents seemed to think that the key to success was to conform, keep your head down and be grateful for what you were given. Their idea of a great job was legal secretarial work, so guess what I was channelled into by them? The fact that I could have had a career in my own right didn't even come up for discussion. It was just assumed that I would leave school with a business diploma, apply for a position in the local papers, and work hard at whatever I was lucky enough to be offered.

Well, after I'd (quite inexplicably, in my parents' view) had a full-scale meltdown every couple of years or so of my working life, where I'd quit job after job out of boredom, I finally found the truth. I literally ACED the Wechsler test - maximum scores on all 10 subtests - which very likely puts my IQ much higher than the (maximum possible) score of 160 that I received.

Rather sheepishly, my mum confessed: I had been tested at age 6, and scored on the 15 year old level. If I'd had a parent like you, Valentine, I might have been spared a lot of heartache.

Now I have the problem to solve of what to do with a middle aged woman with a 160+ IQ whose CV is full of secretarial jobs...

11:04 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your thoughts, 7 Sigma.

Your words are sad ones...but there is hope. You have, at least, discovered your talents, whilst there are still enough years left to make a difference. I suggest that you put your gifts to something that does not need permission from anyone else to pursue. Find a niche, perhaps a creative one, such as writing etc, that no-one can stop you from doing - then get going on it.

You are right. Too many parents think like yours did and sit on their children's gifts. Perhaps they are afraid of what the comparison between child and parent might look like - or perhaps they just don't understand.

I wish you well on your quest to find fulfilment.

By the way, thanks for implicit kind thoughts re. my parenting.

12:04 AM  

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