What is the single quality that all naturally good parents seem to have? The Eyres believe that a key, essential quality is an attitude of Serendipity! Serendipity, as defined by the man who coined the word, Horace Walpole, is “A state of mind whereby one, through awareness and sensitivity, frequently finds something better than that which he was seeking.” The implication is that we can have our goals and make our lists, but we need to be aware and sensitive enough to notice when something better comes along unexpectedly–an idea, a sunset, a question from a child, a need that someone has, any kind of beautiful and unplanned moment that we could interpret as an interruption or irritation but that we choose to interpret as a serendipity. It is with this kind of spontaneity and sensitivity that we recognize the teaching moments when we can really help our children, and as Richard likes to say, it is good to “Always put off a put-off-able in favor of a now or never.” And when the spiritual dimension is added, Serendipity includes the nudges, the impressions, the inspiration of the Spirit which guides us in our parenting and in knowing what our children need.
In the Eyres’ book, Spiritual Serendipity, (An expanded international edition of their earlier book Serendipity of the Spirit) they tell us the full story of the word–how Walpole coined the word after reading an ancient fable called The Three Princes of Serendip (the ancient name for the isle of Sri Lanka); and how the word can become an alternative attitude to the fatally flawed paradigm of control. Parents who try to control every aspect of their children’s growth are constantly frustrated, whereas those who respect their children and seek to know their inherent gifts and talents usually succeed.
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