When I first started blogging, I may have been accused of being too theoretical or too idealistic. I know I started off with tackling money issues and how as women and people in general, we could be better money managers and live a life that is better resourced for a stress free life. I also wrote about self-actualisation strategies that may ensure that we aimed for better goals in our lives with a realistic expectation of achieving them. The blog also touched on identifying and developing attributes that would assist one in aligning goals and achieving objectives. With time though, as ordinary life would have it, I needed to relate real life occurrences to what I have written about before to try and illustrate or bring to life the points that I alluded to earlier. It is the only way that my readers can see that these are not merely abstract concepts but actually real occurrences that happen to everyday people. I am about to do that again in my blog this month.
My focus this month is on young people in general but prompted in particular by two events. I rarely talk about my children or myself in these blogs because that is not what I started out to do. But since of late my blogs are inspired by real life external events, I or my children or indeed other family members will therefore not escape being the focus of my discussions. I have three sons who by most standards have done quite well. They are well balanced individually, have a healthy social circle of friends, have achieved academically and of course a close family that loves and values them. As I speak they have each acquired a Masters’ degree with the youngest one going in to acquire a second Masters. Not that he loves to study but let’s say in his preparation for his future life, it has become necessary for him to do this. A costly decision, but some things must get done.
Most parents can only bequeath a sound education to their children. We hear this all the time since time immemorial. Perhaps it is the freedom that education grants and the fact that it is in your hands and nobody can take it away from you. Most parents therefore will be satisfied if all the children can use the opportunity to go as far as they can in school at their expense. Most parents will go to the edge in funding school for their kids. I commend all parents for this. An educated child will look after himself and others, and will navigate the world physically or virtually and still find his space.
We need to do more than just spend and not engage them actively in those areas that matter. From personal experience, I like to believe that children should have more than an education. Children should be a reflection of who we are and who we can become as a people. They should be taught thoughtfulness, reflection, discernment, compassion, kindness (even to people they don’t know or like); patience etc. Too often we have people learning to do these things way too late when they are unleashed on other people.
In helping children to build a better future for themselves, they should identify and develop their key attributes or even talents that emerge early. Often times we spend time and money helping them to develop talents that may help them in their future. Things like music, dance, technology, medicine, or even when they are simply studious learners. While we help prepare this tool kit, it must be overlaid by all those soft non-religious but still important things that are always important in life i.e. Honesty, commitment, friendship loyalty, love, joy, laughter, comedy, trust. These attributes don’t play out all at once on each day but on an ongoing basis, one experiences one or two of these. Most importantly, let them know what is happening, what lessons have been learnt and indeed what one can do better in the future situations when they happen again. Children are little people like we once were. They must not be shielded from tragedy or disappointment. They must learn very early in their lives about failure and disappointment. They must know that in families there are difficult members who have nothing good to say at any time; there is sibling rivalry, parents can go broke and or get divorced, that there is treachery among siblings and death of loved ones. So, what happens when bad things happen in families? The attribute of patience, tolerance, and forgiveness kicks in. These are critical for the survival of a young mind.
Amid all this turmoil I have used the story of life to help my children emerge. They have experienced pretty much all the above things I have highlighted and hopefully this will ease the shock of disappointment or failure or indeed manage the success and wealth that they may make. At the end of the day it is about keeping things steady, keeping mind soul and spirit together in a balance.
Children therefore need nurturing both from demonstration effect of everyday living as well as mentoring and coaching.
There was a surprise revelation in the international media that Prince Harry, the grandson to Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain admitted that when his mother died he didn’t talk about his pain and loss to anybody. Death is the ultimate loss that a family member will ever experience and for a 12-year-old losing a mother is really deep. It’s a deep dark place that one should quickly be taken out of. Unfortunately for Harry, he was in a dysfunctional family where there was no room to cry and be attended to. He suffered in silence. In his teens he had his run ins with the paparazzi following him in his drunken escapades in nightclubs. At one point he even admitted to trying marijuana. He is over that now and seems to have come out of this drama pretty much unscathed. He lived to tell the world he was suffering.
He admits to suffering from depression which is a mental illness from which many, many young people across the world must be going through. Depression knows no boundaries and unless one seeks help it can be a debilitating destructive condition. Many a time young people are restless, disinterested in the important things of the world (after all the world is their inheritance); young people have the least to lose so one cannot blame them for being disruptive at times.
What needs to be done? As adults singularly and as communities what can we do to make sure that the youth enjoy their youth but are prepared for the job of looking after the resources for their generation?
Clearly we need to introspect on what needs to get done to turn our children into adults that are mature and responsible enough to be given the responsibility of looking after the future. We need to teach our children that there is something out there that is greater than self and for which we must work and toil to achieve. When young people focus on self, they are soon tired and bored for they know their limits. Once they have reached the end, naturally they will become restless and sometimes destructive. The bigger picture is much more challenging and not under their control and therefore, they have to wait on it. This requires patience, resourcefulness and humility. While they wait on this bigger objective, they have to be busy preparing using those things they have under their control, like their talents. Getting an education, acquiring skills and planning. It is quite obvious what I am getting at. When life is about self, it is simply not enough! In a word, to serve others, or simply service, is what brings out the best in us. It is the basis for developing talents and it is those talents that parents will help nurture. Everyone has a talent. This is one resource found in nature and with everyone without exception. Let’s get busy and put young people to work; working on their talents.