Absolutely EVERY child enters this world as a blank canvas…if you are keeping them safe & healthy, warm & fed then you are doing a fantastic job BUT as far as possible you need to allow them to become the architects, the artists & the authors of their own story…the best teachers DON’T tell their students what to do they empower them to find the answers out for themselves thereby learning & growing…parenting should be the same.
I’ve often come across situations where almost without it registering parents & carers having welcomed a new young life into their world automatically & literally assume total control over their lives. Obviously it goes without saying that from birth our children need us to feed, bathe, clothe & keep them safe but what many fail to recognise is that, that particular window of opportunity very quickly passes & almost certainly by the time they reach the ‘terrible twos’. That most trying of times when the almost constant daily grind of the battle of wills commence and the seemingly relentless round of uncontrollable tantrums takes hold. With hindsight & experience it’s easy to say to parents in this situation that they could and indeed should start picking their battles from this point on. Not always easy within the confines of time restraints, work life balance etc but something to be mindful of every single day otherwise the next 16 years or so is going to seem like a very long time!
The key thing to remember always is that whilst we have a duty of care to & for our children, they are not ours to own. They like us were/are born with the inherent power of free will and this is where things can if we’re not very careful quickly come unstuck. As log as we are meeting their every basic right; to be healthy & safe, to thrive & grow, to be educated & reach their full potential. Then we are fulfilling not only their needs & basic human rights but also the most important role in the world that of being a responsible parent
It’s pertinent to point out at this point that everyone has potential and for every single one of us young or old it is different. After all Einstein has been credited as saying;
”Everyone is a genius but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid”
As responsible adults we owe it to our young people to do as the best of our teachers do and lead our children to knowledge by letting them figure out the answers for themselves. We are making the gravest of mistakes for both them and ourselves if we try & raise them with the outdated archaic means of education which most of us (and I’m mindful here that I’m probably of a different generation to most of you) had to endure, that of the, totally inflexible rigid, uniform, one size fits all attitude which serves only to shoehorn square pegs into round holes and is a recipe for not only heartache but for rearing frustrated, disillusioned, disenfranchised youngsters, many of whom spontaneously stop trying to achieve because they perceive themselves to be lacking & unlikely to succeed which becomes self-perpetuating when they prove their own point by doing just that.
Now bearing in mind that as parents & carers we have usually had 2 or 3 years these days before formal schooling & the process of education begins in earnest, think about how different the lives of many youngsters would be if they had the amazing opportunity to learn by discovering things for themselves. I’m not talking quantum physics here mind, just the unbridled joy of say successfully dressing themselves for the first time…despite the fact that nothing matches, is on back to front or they’re wearing swimmers in February!
The fact that they have not only been allowed but encouraged to figure something out for themselves and were suitably praised and rewarded for doing a good job (regardless of the outcome) ticks all the boxes for raising balanced, inquisitive, successful, well-balanced & happy children. These first learning experiences, the ones we’ve all had, where regardless of the outcome you’ve had or given overenthusiastic praise, high fives and the like are the most important ones we will ever have simply because they begin laying the solid foundations we should all be given the opportunity of having, that of believing that anything is possible if we try!
Our children are but a gift, one which we should nurture & watch grow so that we can let go successfully when the time comes for them to set out into the world in their own right.
Making sure our young people can do that with purpose & passion, secure in not only our love for & support of them but of themselves & their own capabilities is paramount because they like us need to be empowered to understand that they can be who they really want to be, safe in the certain knowledge that whatever their lifestyle choices they make as they journey through life then they can always be sure of our unconditional love.
Does this mean that we have to agree with or like the choices they will come to make?
Absolutely not because simply put even though they will always be our children, once they reach the age of being able to understand & accept the responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make, then we have to relinquish any need to control what they are doing and trust that everything will turn out as it’s meant to be…whether we like it or not.
If you remember nothing else when dealing with young people whether it be as a parent or an educator remember just this;
We are all perfect simply by being our imperfect selves and age has no bearing on that.