What Paris taught me about parenting (of all things!)

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Paris is, in one word, breath-taking.  (Does that count as one word?)

There were times when I stood in front of the historic sites, and feel my breath literally being knocked out of me.

As a photographer, it is almost impossible to take a bad picture in this place.   Seriously, you can stand on just about any street corner, take a random picture and end up with something that is postcard worthy.

But beyond the visual beauty, the city is a living, breathing story book.  Every building, every street corner tells a story.   Who would have guessed that underneath today’s majestic beauty, the city’s streets once ran with blood from the French revolution and two world wars?

This morning at breakfast, I found myself having a good conversation about the history of Paris with the girls.  We talked about the stories of the city.  And we concluded with the lesson that if we don’t know the stories, it is easy to take what we see today for granted and one day repeat the same mistakes of the past.

Then it occurred to me that it is so important to raise our children with an appreciation of history and the arts.  I want my children to grow up with a strong sense of being part of a story that is greater than themselves, and they have to make choices as to how they will contribute to the story.  I want my girls to grow up wanting to create, to give to those around them, to add to the world they live in.   Without a sense of history, without an appreciation for the arts, it is so easy for kids to grow into a me-first, self centered, what’s-in-it-for-me, get-ahead-of-others-at-all-cost kind of life.  Which, sadly, is what I see so often in the Hong Kong culture that I came from.

Love or hate, create or compete, contribute or consume, give or grab…these are the choices that all our kids will learn to make.  They don’t need to all become philosophy or history majors.  They don’t all need to become singer-songwriters.  And they don’t all need to go to Paris to be inspired.  They all will, however, look at the kinds of choices WE make, and the messages WE in turn communicate to them and ultimately become the kind of persons the choices shape them to be.


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