Admiral Lord West ponders family love
“Charity begins at home” – what does that mean?
It looks rather selfish taken literally, as though in naval speak it’s “We’re all right, Jack, pull up the ladder! Us first, others later.” But, of course, charity in this context means love, kindness, empathy within the family, which can then spread outwards to other people. It was a guiding principle of my parents and now for me too.
It is a mistake to strive for a “perfect” family life because all humans are flawed. To achieve the best that we can – a life that can often surprise us with joy and delight – we need kindness, tolerance and understanding of each others’ desires and foibles. Love does conquer all in the challenging business of bringing up children and that is the beauty of fostering and adoption. Love extends beyond blood ties, cherishes the individual and attempts to meet all his or her needs.
In that spirit of acceptance, you sometimes as a parent think, “Maybe I’ve been too indulgent or taken for a bit of a patsy” but that’s the price you have to pay for a warm, secure safety net for all. What goes around comes around and the rewards are always there, if not immediately obvious.
The motto on my coat of arms is “Be just and kind”.. or as a friend once noted, “Just be kind!”
Admiral Lord West’s radio series
‘Britain at Sea’ is on BBC Radio 4
starting Monday 4 June each weekday for 3 weeks at 1.45 pm.
There is an omnibus edition each Sunday.