11 life lessons from terminally ill kids that every parent needs to see

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

Parenting is made up of a series of small moments, this is true.

It's very easy to get caught up in the tedious small things: complaining about messy bedrooms, telling the kids off for leaving a toy on the table, or worrying about whether they've done their homework well enough.

We all do it, it's normal. But every now and then it's important to stop and think about the bigger picture.

One paediatrician, South African Dr Alastair McAlpine, has taken to Twitter to urge us parents to remember this big picture, to consider what's really important. And he's doing so through the most extraordinary thread of tweets you'll find on the topic of parenting.

Dr McAlpine begins the thread by saying he spoke with some of his terminally ill paediatric palliative care patients about what they've enjoyed in life, and what's given their life meaning.

He then goes on to share the 11 beautiful lessons these children have to share with us.

(Warning: grab a few tissues before reading on.)

1. The things that don't matter

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2. Pets are happiness

3. Kids want their parents to be okay

4. When in doubt, eat ice-cream

5. Read books together

6. Don't worry about what others think

7. Kids love water

8. Choose kindness

9. Laughter makes the world go 'round

10. Toys and superheroes rule

11. Family is everything

If you can still see the screen through the haze of tears in your eyes, Dr McAlpine then sums up his findings with one final lesson for us parents.

It's a powerful message, whether your children are well or ill, about what really matters to them – and to us. The rest, as Dr McAlpine reminds us, is just details.

Excuse me, I'm off to read stories and laugh with my kids.