What a child needs

Have you ever thought about whether you doing a good job raising your kids? How do you know this?
Are we too self absorbed in our losses that we tend to take the wrong approach when it comes to arming our kids for the world. I have a few mottos in life, one being “raise your kids for the world”. It could be up for debate for some, so let’s talk about it. So why raise your children for the world? What does it mean? What does it even entail..

Humility is big in my books. If you don’t have empathy, understanding, respect for your fellow man, then you will not get very far in life. In my experience as a parent I am going to be the first one to say that being a parent, guider, sustainer, leader etc are one of the hardest things to do. It’s one job that accolades are not freely handed out but rather judged or frown upon by society. Some of us try to live our losses through our children. We try to make up for our short comings or lack of achievements and create our lives we dreamt of through our children. That is a big injustice isn’t it..

Besides the fact that economics changed, politics evolved, technology has changed our social skills, a bread cost so much more, integrity means far less, we want to force them to do what we couldn’t, what we dreamt of becoming growing up. And that’s a fine line to cross because we all hover over that line from time to time. It takes extreme balance to make sure we shift our weight back to us, back to accepting that we were eighteen and pregnant, we were told to go work at the age of sixteen to sustain a family of six, we had no choice but to go work as the mere laborer, the mere machinist..
But what did it make us as individuals, as parents..?It made us the achievers of today! Instead of trying to create the fantasy we never had, we should pat ourselves on the back because our sacrifices are what created our beautiful souls.

So what are the fundamental basis to create well balanced future leaders? I can only think of three important aspects that comes to mind. If you can think of anything else, please feel free to contribute and discuss.

Be emotionally available:
How often are we in the actual, physical space with our children but our hearts and heads are everywhere and anywhere else?
We constantly chasing the never reaching rainbow. We are too focused on what we look like, the house that we want, the car that we want. It becomes a natural thing to nod and say “yes….really…oh…ok..?…”
Being emotionally available requires us to pay attention, close attention and to respond compassionately.
We shove technology in their hand and expect them to be socially equipped so that we have more free time for ourselves to try and catch up whatever we’ve lost…. Let me tell you something…It’s never going to happen. The best thing to do is to create the best path for your child.

Multitasking our time with our children has become a norm and we don’t make the time to look at them and engaging with them. Our minds are anywhere but the story of ” the boy said he’s going cut my hair,”. Until something untoward happens, we either look for someone else to blame or carry the burden of guilt. I fall in the latter category. I never look at the next person to blame whenever my children find themselves in a precarious position. And yes, there was an incident that happened to one of my children and it was a wake up call for me. I was ready to blame the choice of friends, but realized that I will do the same injustices that was done unto me. I firmly believe that people are influences in your life, but you still have a choice. The choice between right and wrong. You need to know or say ” this is wrong and my parents armed me to know the difference between right and wrong..”

At another time amidst writing three exams and juggling between studying for exams and work, my daughter start telling me about her day (after I asked her…as an after thought, or rather automatically..- “Hi, how was your day”) and of course I’ve not heard a single word she said. She came to stand in front of me, sandwich my face and said ” Mom, you’re looking at me but you’re not listening to me”.
And since that day, I am looking at my kids when they talk to me. Engaging is so important for them, it makes them feel that they mean something and whatever they’re sharing are important and like that they reciprocate, as well as handing it out to the world. So stop doing what you doing and pay attention!

Provide limits and discipline:
I am very old fashioned to a certain extent. I like to refer to this analogy – Our children are our puppets on a string and we play them how we see fit, we pull and release and assess their inputs and outputs, how they handle responsibilities, discipline, respect and self respect. We let go slightly to ascertain whether we can trust our kids, how much we should allow, or how little. It’s an ongoing process.

I get highly irritated when I hear a parent says “oh she’s not listening to me – he does his own thing”
Really? Surely there is something wrong with that statement? Who is working from nine-to five, who is providing, who is paying the bills. Why are we so complacent, why does it look like we are becoming the kids, and they’re becoming the parent. If we don’t set clear boundaries or create a “free for all-do what you want to” basis then we creating less disciplined leaders, disrespectful adults, lazy individuals, society that has no ambition to grow, little big monsters! All this is what you sending out to the world, you creating a cauldron of events in your child’s path that he/she won’t be armed to deal with.
We allow dating from a very young age, I certainly don’t believe in dating whilst at school. Yes some will say that’s preposterous in today’s life! I’m arguing, what is? What is today’s life? Social media, free condoms at school, pregnancy are allowed on schools- girls are walking ducks talking about everything else besides solving for x! They have their babies, mommy becomes granny, we’re all proud and smiles, and she goes back to school. Don’t get me wrong, education is your passport to better, to greater things but mistakes are made to learn from. So where’s the lesson in this one?

Yes it’s definitely harder than what it was thirty years ago but who are pulling the strings, who determines the discipline and respect? And ultimately, who is setting the pace?
Why don’t we rather cultivate self respect, self discipline, future leaders, empathy, humility, good values and strong minds.
All this can be done without forcing your child to get a degree in whatever you couldn’t. Again, I am an advocate for enhancement for improvement for better and higher education will give them the ability to be future leaders and providers.

But does it teach them the important values and principles? The importance of family, the unimportant  flashy car, the importance of knowing that you don’t shack your parents up in an old age home, you don’t turn your back on your struggling sibling, you give without expecting anything back in return, you don’t keep a tally on what you do for anyone, you stay humble, you keep the faith and to be good from the inside out. Worldly possessions are just that, it’s temporarily and can be lost at anytime, but good values are permanent – no one can take that away.
Parents that see discipline as a teaching opportunity raise children who experience much better outcomes in their own lives.

Find happiness and meaning in being a parent:

This must be the most rewarding job I’ve ever had to do, and my god, its the most difficult job ever. You constantly plan ahead, you question all the time. There was and still are times when I feel I’ve done the wrong decision. Right now I’m finding myself feeling anxious because I want my daughter to attend a good high school. Was it the right train of thought? My sons did very well in model c schools, so what makes me think it’s not good enough for my daughter. I debate this thought and say I want better for her, I can afford to give her a better chance, she is a girl so I want her to be safe, she’s a free spirit and I want her to excel in extra mural activities on and on I go, trying to justify why the change of perception.
I cart my son from campus to campus because I want to do it. I go crazy when he invades my time and space, I throw a tantrum but yet it’s so rewarding when I see him walk towards the car, all tired but excitingly telling me about his day. I look at him through my rear view mirror and I think ” it’s all worth it”
I nag the eldest to get his license all the time because why do I have to still cart him around.He has his own car, but is not allowed to drive without his license. But when he gets into the car he asks me how I am, kisses me and my heart melts, I immediately forget about my agitation.

This is where I find happiness and the true meaning of being a parent is to guide and to protect against all odds.Parenting is not all about ‘happy moments.’ In fact, much of family life is hard work, plain and simple.

So practice better understanding and let’s be more influential in teaching our children good ways to act Show them love so that they can hand it out. Let them be their own person, don’t break their spirits, dance with them, laugh with them and be the parent



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