As one of the most iconic groups in American history, the Pilgrims made their way across the ocean to the shores of Massachusetts and faced many great hardships along the way in order to strike out on their own in the new world. With holidays celebrating their achievements, history museums dedicated to their lives, and countless fictionalized films and books dedicated to their era, the influence of those early settlers is undeniable. Here are ten lessons that parents can take from the Pilgrims and apply to their own lives.
- Go Your Own Way – Though not all of the passengers on the Mayflower were religious Separatists, each of the voyagers on the perilous journey was seeking a new life on their own terms. Breaking away from the pack and making the decisions that best suit you and your family is a lesson we can learn from the Pilgrims and a great way to honor those early sacrifices.
- Everyone Works – Every member of a colonial family worked as soon as they were able to; even small children contributed to the running of a household. This is a way of life that has largely been lost in recent generations, but is one of the best ways to foster a sense of responsibility in children.
- Cooperation is Key – The venerable tradition of Thanksgiving is based upon the celebration of gratitude that the Pilgrims felt towards the Native Americans that helped them to survive. Learning to work together and to cooperate with their neighbors despite any cultural differences was the key to their survival, and could easily be applied to modern life.
- Your History Will Be Distorted – The cultural image of black-clad pilgrims with large buckles on their shoes isn’t particularly accurate, but it’s become part of the collective American consciousness. This is just one of the inaccuracies that we’ve come to adopt as truth; as children grow and memories become hazy, the truth about your daily lives will become a bit distorted to fit their own perceptions of reality.
- Every Day is a Challenge – Though modern living isn’t the struggle between life and death that the Pilgrims experienced, it is a constant uphill challenge. Following their example of facing each challenge head on is one that parents from all walks of life can benefit from implementing and is a great characteristic to pass down to their children.
- Discipline is an Act of Love – While it’s certainly not a good idea to strike a child, it is incredibly important to properly discipline your youngsters. Modern culture seems to believe that indulgence and refusal to implement punishment systems show how much we love our children, but it doesn’t prepare them for the real-world consequences of their behavior. Colonial children were taught to adhere to the rules of their households completely; this discipline enabled the Pilgrims and their children to survive the harsh conditions of early America.
- Despite Your Best Efforts, Your Children May Not Follow Your Example – The first generation of American Pilgrims cooperated with the Native Americans and was grateful for their assistance; however despite this example of community that they set, the later generations flouted that system. Much like the children of those Pilgrims, your children will become their own people. In spite of your efforts, they may not follow a single example you’ve set.
- Hardships are Unavoidable – Instead of religiously shielding children from even the hint of hardship, the Pilgrims allowed their youngsters to gain a realistic view of the world. In an admirable attempt to extend the youthful years of naivety, modern parents often go to great lengths to prevent them from experiencing any sort of difficulty. Often, this leads to young adults that are completely ill-equipped to handle adversity.
- Never Give Up – A very large portion of the original Mayflower passengers died within the first year. The remaining Pilgrims could easily have admitted defeat and succumbed to the elements, but they strove on each day with defiance in the face of every obstacle. Applying this never-say-die mentality to your parenting style could be a good way to boost the confidence and capability of your kids.
- Keep Your Traditions Alive – Before setting sail for the New World, many of the Pilgrims settled briefly in Holland. Fear that their own culture and traditions were being absorbed by Dutch culture they made the decision to strike out on their own. Personal traditions are very important in a family; the Pilgrims can be an inspiration for establishing and protecting the ones that belong to you and your household.
History is full of lessons for us as parents. The Pilgrims are just one example of how we can apply the lessons of the past to our current family situations.Taken From Nanny