Today we remember that moment in 1976 when the youth said, “enough is enough” and marched for equality and freedom. We remember all those young people who stood up for what they believed in that first Youth Day, and risked their lives, in the process. A peaceful march quickly turned violent when police felt threatened and took matters into their own hands. Not much has changed in over 40 years but that is a topic for another day. It made me wonder how many kids of today are willing to mobilize themselves to affect change, and this is my reason for this post.
No, I am not the perfect parent. I make a lot of mistakes and I don’t let myself off lightly either. The thing is, when I become a mom almost 13 years ago, I was fully aware of the responsibility I had towards my children and I made every effort to do what is right – not what is easy. In reality that means I am often “the bad guy” but I’m okay with not being my kid’s best friend.
I grew up in a house where attendance was everything & had a perfect record of attendance at school. The day after the St James Massacre, I was the only person who had been in church the night before but was also at school the next morning. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much to you but it made an impact on me.
Showing up doesn’t actually count for much and yet it gets rewarded at school. This is possibly why our kids believe that holding down a job means just having a bum in a seat and not actually investing any time and brain power into the job.
If you want your child to hold down a job, and eventually leave home to live their own lives, teach them how to be a contributor. Challenge the way they think and ask them questions that make them question what they belief. “Oh but they are just children”, you might say, as your smile indulgently at the centre of your universe. They are just children, until they’re not. Where do you draw the line and realize that all your indulgences, has grown a child who is clueless about the way life works?
This is what I inspire to teach my kids:
- to find information by asking the right questions
- how to unpack what they believe and defend their position in the face of adversity
- to identify a need and make a plan to meet that need
- how to shop for groceries and cook a meal for themselves
- to take care of a house (cleaning, maintenance and basic repairs)
- how to take care of a vehicle (cleaning, maintenance and basic repairs)
- how to earn money and make that money last until their next pay cheque
- to actively listen when people talk and ask for clarity if necessary
- how to marshal their thoughts and eloquently verbalise their opinion
- to learn from every situation and use hardships to become stronger
- how to trust their instincts when something feels wrong and be strong enough to get help or walk away
- to offer their assistance to others, not because there is something in it for them
- realize that it takes more than just showing up to be successful and getting involved in order to advance their own abilities
Please feel free to let me know what I may have missed. Before I unleash my kids on the world, I’d like to be confident that they are competent in all of the above areas. Emotional intelligence doesn’t happen over night. We have a responsibility to ensure that our kids are ready for the big, wide world, and sometimes that means preparing them to hear the word no.