Father Sez

From and to parents - parental advice to our children on personal financial management and life.
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Paying it Forward – How it relates to bringing up our children

Thursday December 6th, 2007 by fathersez

The concept of “Paying it Forward” is really powerful. 

You do something good to someone and in return you ask her or him to do something good to another, with the same conditions. So the good keeps spreading and spreading. 

Zen Habits has written an outstanding and moving article on this, titled “Faith in Humanity……” 

This article attracted an astounding 167 comments, as I write this. It is really gratifying and comforting to know that doing and spreading good is a favored interest in the blogosphere.  

Here, I want to talk about a twist to this “Paying It Forward” concept. 

A dear friend, Angie, emailed me some great quotations about children. One of them was particularly thought provoking, especially since Angie’s mail came soon after I had read Zen Habit’s post. 


You don’t pay back your parents. You can’t. The debt you owe them gets collected by your children, who hand it down in turn. It’s a sort of entailment. Or if you don’t have children of the body, it’s left as a debt to your common humanity. Or to your God, if you possess or are possessed by one.      


Lois McMaster Bujold,

A Civil Campaign, 1999
US science fiction author

This quote has made me think quite a bit.  

When we do something for our children, we are actually “paying it forward”, and it’s the up to our children to then “pay it forward” to their children, or to humanity or God, as LM Bujold says. 

It follows then, that if we do good to them, i.e. instill good moral values, give them a sound education, teach them useful living skills (including managing themselves financially), we are paving the way for our children to do the same for our grandchildren. 

It should also follow that if the children (especially the older ones)   make the lives of their parents easier, they can expect the same from their children in turn. 

So whatever shenanigans our children come up with, my wife and I shall just have to keep on “paying it forward”. And we hope that our children will grow up as well rounded, principled, respected and respectful people.  

And one of my advance New Year wishes is for the two young ladies featured in Mrs. Micah’s, “If this were your daughter…….”  be made aware of this concept of “paying it forward”, and see their father in a completely different light.

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2 Comments for “Paying it Forward – How it relates to bringing up our children”

On December 7, 2007
At 1:19 am

I like that. It’s clearly impossible to repay our parents–but what they did, they did from love. So we can pass on that love. :)
Thanks for the link–I hope the same for those girls.

by katesaltfleet
On December 20, 2007
At 12:24 am

Yep, you’ve been tagged all right! Just need to copy and paste the questions, add your own answers and send a trackback to me and Laura whose blog it originated on (her permalink for that post is on my “Season of Goodwill 3″ post).

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