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Are our children leadership material?

30 May 2014 04:23 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Recently, Bill and Melinda Gates were highlighted in the media for the normal childhood they were said to be keen to give their children. When you are the richest man in the world, it would be prudent to assume that you would indeed want your children to have a normal childhood, away from the spotlight, the media frenzy and most of all, from all of the evils money can bring upon the children of the rich and the famous.



Bringing up right
Just the other day, a lonely young man in search of love, a rich and spoilt child of a top Hollywood personality, went on a killing rampage ending it with his own suicide. All of it points to some serious thinking about just how we are bringing up our children – are they going to be the entrepreneurs, the thinkers, the doers, the intellectuals, the inventors of tomorrow or are they going to be indulged in, spoilt but lonely, rudderless, hopeless human beings for whose outcome we must share some of the blame?

We have succeeded in our generation – we have often achieved a level of success higher than the previous generation but what values are we passing on to the next generation? Are we keeping them in safety cocoons that will not allow them to experience real life? Or are we ready to let them experience life in all its glory?

Sometimes we are too careful with them. We don’t let them take enough risks. Without taking calculated risks, no child is likely to discover the real world. Playing a sport, taking part in outside play, skinning a knee in the process are all part of allowing child to develop healthily in the area of taking risks.

Research shows that children who have not been allowed to take risks become adults with phobias. Emotional maturity grows in falling and failing. Without winning and losing, our children cannot and will not learn to experience change. Even if they do fall, we rush to rescue them too soon. A fall has consequences and those consequences will teach the child about how to deal with a fall the next time.






Don’t settle for stars
We let guilt take over the way we behave towards them. Guilt will force us to give in too easily and will often let us compensate by giving them expensive gifts. We have to learn to deal with the guilt and not let it push us towards spoiling our children. We are not called to be perfect – we are called to be parents who love them enough to let them grow into balanced and mature adults capable of exceeding our expectations.

We applaud too quickly because we want them to be the best. We are proud of them yes but don’t let them feel that small achievements are big enough to let the real big ones slip by. Don’t settle for the stars – let your kids know that achievements have ranking and that we do our best when we understand how high we can soar.

We misjudge their creativity, intelligence and influence for maturity. Children can grow up into highly intelligent but emotionless adults who can understand the height and depth of a problem but fail to see or comprehend a social or an emotional issue; such attitudes can develop and damage close relationships. It may withhold people from forming close bonds and relationships needed to thrive in life. We have to allow them to mature into individuals without damaging the process of acquiring emotional maturity.

Children often learn by watching. We must walk the talk – in our daily lives, our homes and our offices. Do children see us dealing honestly in everyday situations – do children see us engage with the helpless, the elderly, the marginalized with respect and patience? Do they see us do the kind of things we advise them to do?



Share time with them
We should love them enough to discipline them – sometimes, tough love is all that it takes in allowing a rebellious youth to put himself right. We should not hold back punishment when punishment is due. The new world order of liberal and politically correct thinking has resulted in chaos for the children who still

look for the boundaries they can push. They need to know the limits within which they can run around.

Words like respect, accountability, patience should be included often in the conversations we have with them. They benefit tremendously from knowing and understanding how to connect with the wider world; otherwise, they will be lonely people trapped by wealth, position, power and privileges. They need to be able to connect with others not on their own terms but on terms that are generally given and taken in the world.

We need to talk more often, share our stories of failure an achievements both since the scales must be tipped right. Without being glued to our smartphones and to our tabs, we need to switch off the electronics at some point and share time with them, connecting at the most simplest yet deepest levels as parents and children. We need to bring back the dinner table conversations, which have enriched countless lives of both children and parents.

In this day of trail marriages and Hollywood rivalling lifestyles, we need to love our children. Love them unconditionally but not on terms that are acceptable to them only. We must love them enough to put them on the right track, not the most comfortable one. We need not worry about their future if we as parents do the best we can in raising them right. There is little point in being the world’s best CEO when your credentials as a parent leave a lot to be desired.


(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at nayominiweerasooriya @gmail.com)
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