There’s one thing that no-one tells you about parenting: how much you learn from your children

'Birthday season' always give me cause to ponder some family fundamentals

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The Independent Online

It’s my personal 'birthday season' when many in my family including two daughters, mother and sister and more mark their big days within the same week or so. It leaves me both bankrupt, and very grateful I don’t believe in all that star-sign hokum.

For if I did, apparently: “Libra woman wants Scorpio to control her, teach her fortitude, and, simultaneously, cannot be totally subdued by them, always remaining willful and independent in her heart.”

And what’s more: “Libra woman may take her boundless charisma and charm as both her main weapon and her main gift for her beloved man. With her smile and kind words, she can get from Scorpio more than with ultimatums or with unmurmuring silence.”

In return: “Scorpio man can teach the flabby Libra woman lessons on achieving goals, fearlessness, and commitment.” And in the end “there are strong, peaceful relations based on respect and love for each other between a Scorpio man and a Libra woman who correctly understood their purpose”. Hmm, I’m not sure how “peaceful” relations would be if I referred to any of my family women as “flabby”.

Leaving aside the perennial question of how on earth did astrology ever become a multi-million industry, “birthday season” always give me cause to ponder some fundamentals.

The biggest of these for me is do we give enough time and devotion to those we really love? Do money, work and their associated stresses and fripperies prevent us from focusing on what matters? Yep, old chestnuts, and rhetorical for me, because I know the answers are “yes”.

That need to provide the basics and more (as what constitutes ‘basics’ gets stretched) is so strong that one can lose sight of why, and more importantly, for whom, one is providing.

Top of the list for me are my daughters, the younger of whom was 16 yesterday. As I revelled in the love she shared with family and friends I realised that there’s one thing that no-one – friend, family, doctor, teacher or astrologer - tells you about parenting: how much you learn from your children.

So to my two 16-year-olds (for one week only – they are 51 weeks apart!), a public thank you for reaffirming in me the value and meaning of unconditional love; for helping me understand that by letting go a little, families stay together; that new and modern does not always mean worse; that we are all but tiny grains of ‘couth couth’ (sic); that sometimes we need be on receive, not transmit; for reminding me of the joy of “just because…”, and that in a world divided up into radiators and drains, I am very, very lucky indeed to have two such wonderful and warm radiators. @stefanohat

Stefano Hatfield is editorial director of London Live