Proverbial Friday and Global Wisdom

Proverbs and sayings often provide us with wise words from all corners of the world. 

Best savoured a little at a time, I find there to be profound wisdom in the words and marvel at how they succinctly communicate messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures.

They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.

Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Friday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking. 

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

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The WordPress community really is amazingly giving, as two bloggers have indirectly contributed to this week’s ‘Proverbial Friday’ post.

The proverb this week, comes from a book generously given to me, by LeggyPeggy.

Whilst short in length, this proverb originated in religious texts (NB. I am not at all religious), and yet it made me ponder the intrinsic nature of strength, versus wisdom.

“Wisdom is better than strength.” [Ecclesiastes]

 

Mt Pilatus

 

Strength is often considered an asset in life. There are those who say, that the weak or submissive are left behind.  We are encouraged to take the initiative, be on the front foot, be pro-active and assertive. We are warned that we might be left behind, cast aside in the wake of others in financial or intellectual achievement, in progress, or in personal growth. But this proverb made me stop and consider this a little deeper.

Should strength be the first and foremost goal? Should strength be valued at all? For strength without wisdom, can even be dangerous. History tells us that some leaders had strength but little wisdom.

What do you make of the proverb’s words?

The quote this week comes from a dear blogger friend, Ineke from Iscrap2, who recently published her memoir with these inspiring words, for parents, on the inside front page:

bear and happy girl

“The best thing you can give your children,

next to good habits,

are good memories”

– Sydney Harris

Birthday

Do you agree with Sydney Harris? Or is there some other value, more important than habits and memories that parents should share with their children?

Join in the conversation and let me know your thoughts.

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Now posting on Fridays

Some words to Ponder About

–  Amanda

 

 

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54 thoughts on “Proverbial Friday and Global Wisdom

  1. Always something to ponder about – and this time about what we should give to our children for their journey. I agree completely. First about strength being less important than wisdom, and then the importance of good habits and memories. They are all connected. If you have those three from your childhood, you will get even wiser as a grown-up. Because your mind will be easy and comfortable when you are to find your own place in society. Add an open mind as well, and these are the perfect gifts. Wise words from Ineke’s book. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Thank you, Anne-christine! I like the way you drew together the threads from both the proverb and the quote. You are right. These things are important and it is your comment that makes me see how crucial they are. It is a shame when some folk do not have those experiences as that means they will have to search a lot harder to find their place in society. Although children can gain these three things in many different ways as they grow up. There is no single recipe because families are all so individuals. Indeed an excellent and apt quote for Ineke’s book.

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  2. Two quotes that are really very much open to interpretation this week. You mention strength without wisdom, which made me think about wisdom without strength. I think both go together hand in hand. We need strength to express wisdom, and wisdom when we apply strength. As a writer and researcher, a lot of my time is spent reading and reflecting – and the more I learn, the more confident I feel in my ability to write and put out a message. Aside from physical strength, strength also makes me think about endurance and resilience, going the distance – and in order to go the distance, often we need plans and strategies which in turn comes from a lot of thinking.
    Nothing like good memories… We all have those memories where take us back to a more carefree time, and to know that it is possible – a reminder – that there are always good times in the world, especially for us that find it challenging to find satisfaction in our routine lives.

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    1. Wisdom without strength and srength without wisdom. In an ideal world everyone will have both in equal measure. Strength is very subjective though. I wonder if we always do need strength to express wisdom. Or is it only in the final act of expressing wisdom itself, that strength might be discovered or develops.
      Is it a result or a pre-requisite? Resilience is a word the importance of which, I hear about a lot these days, especially pertaining to adolescents. That ability to bounce back and see the glass as half full and not half empty, to possess a level of self control, to be respectful, sensible and believe in your ability to manage problems is congruent with resilience. Your writing is resilient Mabel, especially as you define resilience and it is clear that you have found strength in your thinking and how this can and does transpose this to your life. Memories may shape and sustain us but it is our own thinking about them that dictates whether they are positive or negative. Routine can be restrictive of spontaneity or it can be comforting. If it is comforting, must it not therefore also be satisfying?

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    2. Agree strength is subjective…and so is wisdom. In fact, a lot of ideas in this world is subjective and their meaning changes when perspective changes. To me, routine is comforting and it is actually also satisfying. Maybe it’s because I don’t live for achievements, recognition and awards, and am very happy just letting things be – and boring isn’t entirely boring to me.

      It is very kind of you to say that about my writing, Amanda. Interesting to hear you equare to resilence to a glass half full. We do need to be positive if we are to strive ahead and not give up after falling down or going through challenging times. However, I live by the idea to be thankful for even having a glass in first place – something to make magic out of. This way of thinking has helped me to not get ahead of myself and to be realistic.

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    3. Oh I like what you said there, Mabel. Being thankful for having a glass in the first place, something to make magic out of!! I was speaking to a teacher just this morning and we agreed that many high school students of today have a growing and concerning, “sense of entitlement” – whether this is good or bad, I am not here to debate, however, I think having that sort of sense, can result in a big head/ego, and not keeping it real! They miss out on opportunities to be thankful, which creates feelings of contentment. Perhaps this quote from Ecclesiastes could be added to our book?

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    4. It is always easy to lapse into a sense of self-entitlement because it give us a feeling of comfort. I think that is a great idea to have Ecclesiastes to our book. I was thinking exactly the same 🙂

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  3. Good to know the books is becoming useful. The first quote is rather like ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. But I especially like the Harris quote about the importance of memories, and the fact that good habits (and manners) come first.

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    1. Yes the book is a gem. Thank again!! Manners, wow I could write a page in that fast disappearing tradition. Is it because people are rushed, distracted or feel manners are not important? I think manners help us to notice appreciate other people ‘s acts as well as being respectful to people themselves. It costs nothing but goes a long way towards developing rapport!!

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    1. As Peggy said, it is a little like the saying about the pen being mightier than the sword. Wisdom can be wielded in many different ways, whereas strength is utilized in a more direct linear way. Having said that, I guess that strength can be displayed in an emotionally sense too, so might that person be considered wise and strong?

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  4. wonderful sayings. Strength counts in the animal kingdom, that is the rule of nature, so that the strong and resistant prevails. The moment the mind and the ego are added, the strength is not only less important than wisdom, but dangerous, as history shows. It is time to establish a general validity in society that wisdom is far beyond strength. Only then can we redirect all the mistakes we make to nature and mankind in a better direction.
    And children need good habits and nice memories. Yes, that’s the most important thing for them to become self-responsible and self-confident and fair adults. And that only works with a lot of love, understanding and a lot of time given to the children. treat your children as if they are a part of you and you can rightly participate in their joys and successes.

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    1. Oh it is good to hear from you again, Anie! You have the ability to clarify just what I am trying to articulate! When the ego and mind is added, wisdom is essential for a mature, well adjusted approach to life.
      As for the children – they thrive better on routine. Routine engenders habits. No routine gives them no structure or direction, just an aimless experiential existence. Showing love and kindness, giving them of your time and most crucial, listening to them are all important aspects of engendering good memories. However I will make one comment about treating them as if they were a part of you. This works perfectly until they become adolescents and then you must untie those apron strings as they are ready to fly on their own!

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    2. Yes that’s right, my kids are now 15 and 17 and I did not make too much mistakes i think, because they are wonderful kids. (But all parents say that anyway …;) …) And they have been very independent for years. Of course, they need me in still in different ways, …f.e. because they have no driver’s license and there are no good public transport connections with us. But they untie on their own and I have no problems letting go.

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    3. This is a gross generalization but I think that Australian children are giving independence later than European children. Perhaps there are a multitude of reasons for this, however, it sounds like becoming independent in many ways, whilst being supported, has allowed your children to blossom! Peer and peer groups can be a help or a hindrance and exert an external major influence in their lives too.

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    4. Well I know nothing about australia, so you might be right or not….; ) I had to look first what a pee group is…so you mean when the kids become independent and stick around with their friends? This is right that it can be a help but also a hindrance too. You can only pray that they choose “nice” friends and walk a good way. But as long as they come to you and want to talk about problems they have, you are content, no?

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    5. Yes that is right. As you suspected, a peer group is their friendship group, Anie but also people they are at school or work with, but who might not necessarily be their friends.
      And also yes we want them to walk the right way and have nice friends. Every parent hopes for that. Communication is absolutely crucial and being supportive in difficult times essential, even when one doesn’t agree with the children’s choices in life.
      I am yet to work out why Aussie kids mature later than European but I have evidence of this from hosting a variety of exchange students over the years. They notice it too.

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    6. Thanks for the supplement! Then there are also teachers and other people to whom the children have regular contact. This is also logical, because all the people who accompany the children over a longer period of time have a great influence on the children’s lives and their memories.

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  5. Memories is what we have and store for use later on. I asked Helvi what is better, Wisdom or Strength? She did not hesitate, ‘Wisdom’ she answered. She is wise, something I am still aspiring to eventually gain. I have no strength either, and have trouble opening a tin of tuna using the pull-ring. Even Corn Flakes I find hard to tear open unaided.
    Has anyone else noticed how hard opening has become? Sometimes the plastic is dangerously sharp, especially in vacuum packed beef eye fillets. I now have a special jar of tools on top of the bench to try and open food stuffs.

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    1. Helvi is wise, Gerard, and I do believe she is correct. A wise man can survive where brute strength alone cannot. However, emotional strength is also a valuable aid to wisdom! If one is heavily endowed with wisdom, perhaps emotional strength would be merely a bonus and not essential.
      Memories are the groundwork upon which our personality is modified, I think, Gerard. Do you or Helvi agree?
      And I have noticed the difficulty opening things. I have lacerated my hands on the new openings for jars of muzzle or ice cream tubs! I prefer to buy fresh meat when I buy it, but can easily comprehend the plastic you are referring too. Kitchen scissors are basic equipment. No paper packaging anymore, they need steel like plastic as the food needs to have a longer and longer shelf life as it comes from overseas more and more often. I love to attend the markets and get fresh quality produce.

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  6. Definitely wisdom counts above strength. As Anie pointed out strength is relevant in the animal kingdom, but even animals use their wisdom to know if a battle is a viable proposition.
    Memories for children are definitely important, as is good habits. Along with good habits goes good manners, and above all I think empathetic, humane values.

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    1. I think the general consensus is that there is nothing wrong with good habits and that good manners follow from this. A little spontaneity does not harm but the middle path of a structured scale is the better ( and easier ) one to tread! And I so like that you introduced the importance of empathy and humanity in our value system. Empathy enables us to read people and this enhances communication. A selfish egotist thinks only of the world through their own eyes and how it impacts on them. But we are social creatures and depend on many others for life. One can not be a solitary creature, in this world, so we must learn to respect and communicate well with others. Thanks for a great comment, Chris!! It looks like you are back home again, is that right?

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    2. Hmm I would not name it wisdom , but instinct why animals know that the other has more strength. but the rest i agree completely. Good habits, manners empathetic, human value…all very important. i just thought a lot about this. We try always to have a perfect enviroment for our kids…and of course if everything in family, scholl etc. is stable it is the best for the kids. But I also recognized the last year, that difficulties and problems are of course disturbing, but they may also have a positiv effect in learning, that life is sometimes hard, but can always be managed if you love each other and help each other.

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    3. Interesting Anie, wisdom in animals is perhaps more accurately described as instinct. But I think of instinct as separate to learning from experience and instinct is simply reactive behaviour to their genetic or inherited intelligence? Perhaps instinct could be a mix of inherited, innate intelligence and learned experience. We train our dogs with certain tricks and they learn that they get rewarded for displaying certain behaviours. Could we say that is in part, a kind of learned wisdom?
      As for the matter of children, it is a good point that you raise. We all prefer stability and life without problems, however people do still need challenges in life to a certain extent, or problems to deal with, (preferably not too cataclysmic). This might sound silly, but I am reminded of a particular episode of the old Star Trek series with Leonard Nimoy as Spock. The Star Trek Crew lands on a planet where by some spell, or reason i can’t remember, everything a person wants is given to them, and desire is completely unknown. Spock languishes in this atmosphere, but in true Star Trek fashion, William Shatner saves the crew from ruin, realizing that happiness is not everything in itself. He can foresee that a continuing state of bliss can only lead to apathy. Man it appears to Shatner, needs challenges and problems to solve in life. A silly analogy but it does exemplify that our mind might absolutely need to be challenged to a certain extent otherwise there is little to strive for, and boredom is a real possibility. I do think when we apply this to raising children, supportive parents, who are there as backup to help there when they stumble, make a real difference in a child’s life. It is hard to know where to draw that line, especially with all the difficulties adolescents face in today’s modern technological world. There is another saying that comes to mind, in this regard: “Steel is not made strong, until it is stressed. ” Do you think this is relevant here?

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    4. ohh, those are all interesting points! Instinct has nothing to do with learning, as you say some kind of innate intelligence. The behavior of the animal is then the result of instinctive and learned experiences. But I do not think that Pavlo’s dog has anything to do with learned wisdom. I do not know the definition of wisdom, but for me it’s a more complex thing than learning things. It is an understanding of relationships in combination with an inner peace and security that allows these people to be sovereign.
      And they are right with the children. You are already very stressed with the living conditions that we have created for you these days. They are stressed and we tend to make life as easy as possible for you by fulfilling all your wishes and fighting for them. This is the degree migration of good and bad, because as you described in Star Trek, humans need challenges. It would be nice if these challenges were shaped differently than they are in our society. All the wasted energy in imitating role models, top models and other nonsense, in the eager learning of what the education system dictates and the endless struggle for recognition and status ….
      Well, life is not a wish concert. I think it is important for children that they know that parents understand that they are their point of contact for problems, their friends and counselors. That they also know that the parents are not perfect and learn that as adolescents they can offer their parents strength and comfort. Give and take. The most important is the feeling of not beeing left alone and of beeing loved. And with the steel you are right, it is not strong, until it is stressed, and this is a important point to live in our world…unfortenately, because in love you do not search for strength you search for caress…; )

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    5. I agree with you on Pavlov’s dog, Anie.It is conditioning not learned wisdom.

      The definition of wisdom I came across is, “a quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise. But I like the way you frame things, Anie. Understanding the complicated connections between things and interactions surely seems to be a sign of wisdom. If you can see a pattern you can be more confident of a decision that seems sound sensible and clear.
      You said, ” Life is not a wish concert” – it surely isn’t and that’s a good turn of phrase. There is no doubt that the world could be improved without certain aspects of media and the over ambitious struggle for money, or power but this is the world we live in and we have to make our way in it the best we can. If we or our children feel alone, and have no emotional support, we, or they, might feel even weaker and doubt ourself. Being alone can be a punishment that might even affect wisdom.

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    6. Thank you for your so enriching answer! For me, being alone is the biggest punishment that exists, without really having experienced it properly. I could imagine going down on it very quickly and in any case share the opinion that it can influence wisdom. I’m not wise, I’m still a kid in mind, but I’m learning to realize what wisdom is even if I do not manage to behave a bit like the rules of wisdom …,)
      But I try to look at the world from different angles and to develop emphases without forgetting myself. The world has rules and according to them we have to live at least to a certain extent. Everyone needs money and respect to survive. We have to find a way !!!

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    7. Encapsulated beautifully, Anie. That is why solitary confinement inside a prison is the severest of punishments. We are a gregarious species and need human contact at least to some extent.
      We all feel young in mind, I think, it is now that I just feel I have more direction and clarity than when I was young, sailing along with the wind. Now I try to maneuver the sails a little more.

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    8. This is a nice picture to maneuver the sails better …:) … and a good point to think about what has changed mentally to our youth. I think I just did not think so much before … I was just a kid for a long time and then most of the time I had people around me that made me feel safe. There were also unpleasant experiences with strangers, but I simply repressed them because they were not permanent. And we hardly got in touch with news and media anyway …

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    9. Yes I think most of us were simply reactive, thinking we had years and years ahead of us to settle on a set path. We had very loose goals. I see some youth of today with clear goals, and a plan and I admire them. But perhaps it is foolish to think that all young people will be so organized as to have a plan with set goals. They are simply not all so driven! I have had to accept this with my #2 son, despite my best efforts at influencing his free spiritual ways!! Accepting a child/ young person as they are, is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give to their offspring.

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    10. oh that’s nice that you say that. I think so many times that I’m a raven mother because I just let the kids do without looking after …. I mostly have no idea what their plans look like and do not get involved unless they ask me. Probably that is partly negligent, but somehow I always think they can do it alone. My son is very purposeful and plans in details. My daughter is more like me. I’ve never had big plans, I’ve always taken things the way they came. But I must also say that I always had a lot of luck in the things that I have set myself then. Aigber I think you are very right, a little more action and less reaction in life is certainly more satisfactory in the long run!

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    11. I guess planning and goal- setting takes some deep thought and reflection. And if many of us are simply reactive and taking the things the way they come, there is not so many opportunities or perhaps desire to really sit back and analyse one’s life. These people tend to only plan for the days or week ahead, or the weekend!! This is not a bad thing at all, as we are constantly recommended by various sages to live for the moment, be present in the present, not the past or the future, as the present is a gift (pun!) and all that matters at this moment. I think people who tend towards the anxious side will tend to plan more, trying to prepare for all contingencies. It is of course, impossible to plan for everything as we know, life is terribly unpredictable! But that is the exciting part! And the challenging part! We might plan and have goals, but the curve balls challenge us to think laterally and problem solve new strategies. Would you say that these incidents and happenings, increase our wisdom, as we might learn from them, Anie?

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    12. We definitely learn from these incidents!
      Maybe the anxious people are more likely to plan and look to the future. But also anxious people live in the moment because they are afraid of planning … because they know that they have to deal with many things that make them sad if they plan. For example, I’ve never consciously said goodbye to anybody in my life … it was just the last moment I saw a human without knowing it … it’s less painful.
      The advice in “living now” comes perhaps from the fact that it avoids many sad and negative thoughts and people can be happier?
      It’s certainly braver to plan, and it’s actually the more responsible way. People who think and plan have a clear opinion and can not be easily manipulated. They are people with personality who are not driven by a system like sheeps by a sheepherder. You see I’m thinking and that alone makes a little bit wiser …,)

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    13. oh that’s nice that you say that. I think so many times that I’m a raven mother because I just let the kids do it …. I mostly have no idea what their plans look like and do not get involved unless they ask me. Probably that is partly negligent, but igendwie I always think they can do it alone. My son is also very purposeful and planning in detail. My daughter is more like me. I’ve never had big plans, I’ve always taken things the way they came. But I must also say that I always had a lot of luck in the things that I have set myself then. Aigber I think you are very right, a little more action and less reaction in life is certainly more satisfactory in the long run!

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  7. There is a lot to think about here. I am all about wisdom first, strength in wisdom on it’s heels. I’m not sure about good memories being the foundation for children, I don’t know that I or my children had a lot of good memories but I do know that good habits were essential in building character as was resilience. My daughter, who had a harder time than her brother with life in general, is the wisest and most generous of the two even though she is younger. He is wise in some ways and stronger in his self perspective but as they age, I see her wisdom overshadow his. I always said it was important to give children strong roots and then even stronger wings. Pushing them out of their comfort zone if necessary. There are a lot of world leaders who think they have strength, but lack serious wisdom as to what to do with that strength. There is a lot to ponder here, Amanda. Thanks for making us think more deeply.

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    1. Thanks for another great and thought provoking comment, Marlene. You are right that some children do not experience good memories, and I think this can make or break them – precisely where resilience determines the outcome. It seems to me that it is also a matter of personality, and it sounds like your children have very different personalities. One of the mysteries of parenting: how one child can differ so much from the next….. I see that in my two sons who seem diametrically opposed in personality. One a risk taker and voyeur and the other, diligent conscientious and strict.
      “I always said it was important to give children strong roots and then even stronger wings.” What wonderful words that encapsulate the discussion that Anie and I are having about giving children independence yet being there to support and help them along the way. My kids have at times, rallied against me when I felt it was time to push them gently out of their comfort zone, and sometimes, I had to wait for them to do this themselves as it backfired when I initiated it. However, hindsight is a great opportunity to reflect and see parental intentions in a bigger picture!
      Your daughter sounds like a beautiful person, for being wise and generous. I do wonder how much gender also plays into the personality debate. As much as I try to treat my daughter and sons equally, in some ways, life and society is different for boys compared to girls, so we have to adjust our actions accordingly. Is it possible to treat boys and girls totally equally?

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    2. I think I treat my children equally tough but do it differently. They are different and totally opposite. They have almost traded personalities as they grew into adulthood! I think each person comes into this life with a predestined agenda and we only have so much influence on that. I know I can’t interfere with their life plan but I can let them know I’m here to support them all the way through. I just am not allowed to coddle. It’s not healthy. We talk a lot and are very open with each other so they know everything I do is because they are deeply loved. My parents were tough without the balance of comfort but I appreciated the fact that I’m a resilient and flexible person because of their no nonsense approach. I take that over being coddled and unable to cope with what life throws at me. I’ve been well prepared for this life. My children never whine the poor me syndrome either. They know they are strong and resilient. 🙂 I’m a proud mom, can you tell?

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    3. And you should be a proud Mum. Your children sound very well balanced and adjusted. I think I erred on the coddled side a little too much, but then they also came with a personality that was more anxious than mine…. it is a bit like the question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg/ Does a mother’s coddling cause the child to become weak and anxious or does the mother seek to overly protect because she sees the child as innately more vulnerable than others, when they go to school and out in the world?

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    4. That is good to hear. I love that everything has worked out well. Sensitive kids are wonderful but can drain a parent’s emotional energy. But ironically we wouldn’t have it any other way!!

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    5. I completely agree. The habits create security and it also makes the kids proud as they realize it’s special and that life frames. Children are all different and need different treatment. Strong roots and even stronger wings is perfect!

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  8. Oh no it is unfortunately not possible to treat boys and girls alike nowadays. It starts with the fact that the mother herself has a gender. Girls are more likely to confide in the mother when it comes to intimate affairs and boys are more likely to be fathers, as they know how boys talk to each other (I can imagine, but you do not know …;) )
    That’s unfortunately what I’ve always tried to ( to treat the same way) and it’s fascinating that there are so many things that actually work, if they’re just practiced … so my son has quite a lot of fun cooking or singing a silly canon with me and my daughter likes to do handicrafts with her father. Sensitive kids are wonderful and although we should try to treat our children the same, you will always notice that different treatment is needed.

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    1. Boys and girls are essentially individuals first and foremost, so perhaps I should consider this to be the real reason why they can’t be treated the same, after all? I did not treat my boys in the exact same way, but I do think it was probably very similar, just not the same. This was because they are vastly different kids with different needs. But no matter what, I did aim for consistency with them all. But as you rightly pointed out, the Mother’s gender makes it impossible to be completely impartial in her treatment of one or the other. I had one son interested in cooking and the other not. My daughter was not interested in cooking either but now keeps me company chatting away next to me as I do the cooking. And that makes Parenting and life interesting!

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    2. In any case, children are first of all individuals and it does not really depend on the sex, how someone is and what he has for his needs. The different treatment I have society makes a difference and shapes the children. If my children had grown up on a lonely island with only father and mother, my daughter would certainly have no problem with her monthly complaints to go to her father and my son would also express his needs to me more openly…and you are right..parenting is something very interessting…

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  9. I do agree that wisdom is more important than strength – but then I think wisdom is strength. Strength isn’t only about assertiveness and achievement, but about being resilient and able to deal with what life throws at us. I don’t have children, but as a former child (!) I would say good memories are very important, as memories colour the way we deal with life.

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    1. Absolutely, Andrea! Our memories colour our attitudes in life sometimes for a long period unless we are mature enough to rationalize them as just one stage of our journey.
      Andrea, you really have got this discussion summarized remarkably well. Perhaps ‘Resilience’ is the product of both strength and wisdom in varying measures, in each person?

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    2. Strength is (at least in German) a term that can be applied to a large number of series. First and foremost, we see strength as strength in terms of physical strength and power over others. Wisdom is a silent mental thing that does not boast like strength. But of course there is also spiritual strength and strength in love etc. which are quiet but powerful. Therefore, it is of course desirable that the wisdom does not remain in one person, but that, thanks to the strength, it can be communicated and outward.

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    3. It is often a sign of strength to show wisdom by your actions and not words. This is the silent mental thing, but we are continually processing information in our heads, building on it, reflecting, analysing and weighing it up. It is a never ending process.

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