The roots of a child’s ability to cope and thrive, regardless of circumstance, lie in that child’s having had at least a small, safe place (an apartment? a room? a lap?) in which, in the companionship of a loving person, that child could discover that he or she was lovable and capable of loving in return.
Oh dear, dark boy. There was such promise of happiness balanced there. But your mama never rocked you when you were a baby, you say, and your daddy died when you were seventeen. And all the rest of us can never make it up to you.
I have often felt that I cheated my children a little. I was never so totally theirs as most mothers are. I gave to audiences what belonged to my children, got back from audiences the love my children longed to give to me.
We have made mistakes with our children, which will undoubtedly become clearer as they get old enough to write their own books.
Yes, Mother. . . . I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me.
Parents teach in the toughest school in the world — the School for Making People. You are the board of education, the principal, the classroom teacher, and the janitor.
It’s a wonderful feeling when your father becomes not a god but a man to you — when he comes down from the mountain and you see he’s this man with weaknesses. And you love him as this whole being, not as a figurehead.
A wise friend told me that we all could use more than one set of parents — our relations with the original set are too intense, and need dissipating.
How different my life would have been if my parents had just let me dance.
The beggarly question of parentage — what is it, after all? What does it matter, when you come to think of it, whether a child is yours by blood or not? All the little ones of our time are collectively the children of us adults of the time, and entitled to our general care.
There is . . . a distinct sense of elation in doing trifling practical things for children. They are so small and so helpless that they contribute vastly to a comforting glow in the ego of the grown-up. When you have completed the rather difficult task of preparing a child for bed and actually getting him there, you have a sense of importance almost divine in its extent.
I was barely ten when our father died. . . . Yet a member of our clan educated me and never expected any refund. According to our custom, I was his child and his responsibility. I have a lot of praise of this institution. . . . It caters to all those who are descended from one ancestor and holds them together as one family.
I wonder why you care so much about me — no, I don’t wonder. I only accept it as the thing at the back of all one’s life that makes everything bearable and possible.
It is quite easy for me to think of a God of love mainly because I grew up in a family where love was central and where lovely relationships were ever present. It is quite easy for me to think of the universe as basically friendly mainly because of my uplifting hereditary and environmental circumstances. It is quite easy for me to lean more toward optimism than pessimism about human nature mainly because of my childhood experiences.
It is the family that gives us a deep private sense of belonging. Here we first begin to have our self defined for us.
I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be one of so many, to have not just parents and siblings but cousins and aunts and uncles, an entire tribe to claim as your own. Maybe you would feel lost in the crowd. Or sheltered by it. Whatever the case, one thing was for sure: like it or not, you’d never be alone.