8. May, 2018

Little birds in our nests

"Everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid" - Albert Einstein

Yesterday this quote led to a discussion around the expectations our parents had of us and how it seems to be a multi-cultural phenomenon. This person told me how he had seen many instances of a father never having been able to play rugby so he would push his son to play rugby, or daddy couldn't be a lawyer so junior got pressurised into studying law. We come from different backgrounds but this stretches through the divide and happens everywhere. 

How often have you either said or heard, "I want to give my children the opportunities I never had"? Does anyone ever sit down with those children and ask them what opportunities they want? Does anyone ever sit down with their children and ask them what sets fire to their souls? 

We become so focused on giving our children a better life than we had that we forget that their vision of a better life is quite likely different from ours. I think it's far more important to give our children choices instead of opportunities. I think we should guide them within themselves to find their purpose and then structure the opportunities offered around that purpose. 

Not every child is an aptitude for every single thing. We need to recognise our children's gifts and show them ways they can apply those gifts in order to become independent adults one day. 

I have two children who are so vastly different it's staggering. My son never had much interest in academics (even though when he applied himself he did well) but if you gave him a physical activity, be it sport or manual labour, he excelled. Not only did he excel but he derived such joy from it. My son didn't go to university but as a 21 year old, he has a job and is becoming self sufficient. He has moved to a different city far away from me and is doing well enough that he has booked a plane ticket to come and visit me for my birthday. How can I not be proud of that? 

My daughter, on the other hand, is still at school and is a shining star academically. She comes first in her grade every term and is diligent. She wants to go to university and I'm sure will do very well at that too. I'm proud of her for different reasons. 

I want to make two points here. First of all, as I said above, allow your child to find their passion and their purpose and they will excel at LIFE, not just at one aspect of life. And secondly, take pride in your children's achievements but don't overlook who they are. That's where the real pride lies.

You see, both my children excel at different things but those things fade in comparison to the beauty of their souls, the joy in their smiles, the love in their words and their actions.

As parents, let's never forget that in amongst the day to day parenting duties, that these children are human beings deserving of love, respect and honour. Our job is to guide, not to mould. Our job is to teach without dictating. Our job is never to live through our children to meet our own needs but to show them their wings and make sure they know how to use them.