Today is Aram’s fifth birthday.
I wrote him a long letter today with my thoughts about who he is, and my wishes, desires, and concerns for him as he grows older.
I was going to share it on here, originally with the thought that it could spark ideas or discussions about birthday letters for children. I think open letters are really beautiful and have been a huge source of inspiration for me in my own life. However, my thoughts are evolving about what is appropriate for public sharing, and more importantly, why public sharing is important. This letter, after reading it, I decided was so specific that it would not help anyone else if shared. So, not that it would be wrong, but pointless if I shared it.
I wanted instead to talk about why I think writing your child a letter in their younger years for their future can be positive for both you and your child. The obvious reason would be of children having those thoughts of their parents as they grow and then keeping them as an adult. That thought is really beautiful to me. I also think a maybe even the more important reason for doing it is for us as parents. We can get out every dream, worry, and hope we have for our children. Writing it out helps us stay focused; we see clearly what is important.
Life gets in the way so easily that we often take for granted or lose sight of the bigger picture. Writing to children of their strengths as well as certain concerns about life and advice and wisdom, I hope, will be a gentle reminder if they ever need it.
For me, I personally want my children to understand their empathy is seen and is good, and to hold onto it, and to keep the drive that is so apparent in most children, but seek and be aware of their own privilege and exploit this knowledge to help others. Do not make apologies for who they are, do not feel guilty for their circumstances, but take each opportunity they are given to embrace community and do what is right, and that looks different, and sometimes is different, for each person, so I hope they are not quick to judge others.
Do you have any birthday rituals with your children?