If you were given the opportunity to pass along to your kids one piece of advice – say you had only 30 seconds to say it – what would it be?
I’ve always been interested in the advice parents pass on to the youngsters. In reading of an interview between Jeannie Sakol and Doctor Margaret Mead, which appeared in McCall’s magazine sometime back, the distinguished anthropologist and author, Dr Mead recalled her grandmother as one of that rare breed of women who understood the nature of change and the need to be prepared for the unknown.
And she said, “This generation must discover how to bring up children to live in this unknown world. How to bring them up without absolutes. My grandmother taught me”, she said, “to nest in the gale, which is why I’m still around. The greatest gift we can give our children is to teach them to nest in the gale.”
I think it was particularly good advice for girls. Of course, this isn’t something you just pass along as a bit of advice and then forget about it. It’s something that has to be taught as a way of life, as is any worthwhile philosophy, but it’s a good one, isn’t it?
To nest in the gale – to be able to know the whirl winds of change and the tremendous upheavals that have rocked our world and will continue to rock it. To build for yourself and your family a calm, rock-solid place in the midst of it all, like the seabirds that nest high in the storm-battered cliffs, to be able to have so secure a basic foundation that the storms can be weathered – and the young can fly out at last to build their own nests when the time comes. This means teaching the youngsters that the only thing we can count on absolutely is change, constant, never-ending change.
And to understand that there’s as much opportunity and change as there is danger. But courage and creativity can make a slave of change – and that change, however disruptive, holds the only hope for the future of mankind. If we’re at last to conquer all disease, it must come through change. If we’re to give every person on earth a decent nutritious diet, it must come through change. If we’re to have peace, if we’re to tap at last the true potential of man to transcend himself, it will come through change.
So change is not just inevitable. It’s our only hope for the future.
If young people look at change in this light, they will welcome it, knowing that they’re going to have to take a few knocks along with the good. So as Dr. Margaret Mead says, maybe the greatest gift we can give our children is to teach them to nest in the gale, so that they will be able to fly in good health and clearer skies when the gale has passed – as pass it must.