The only image I carry in my head when I think of what I want my children to become in life is SUCCESSFUL! I’ve never looked at my children and wish they must choose specific career paths. Of course, like every parent I look forward to seeing them in academic gowns, smart attires for work, beautiful wedding dresses/ well-tailored tuxedos, etc. Beyond this, all I want for them is to be happy because to me, success is not limited to financial success alone; it is all-encompassing:being graduates, fulfilling legit careers, happy relationships, good health, become role models who in turn will raise role models and most importantly, fantastic relationship with God. Therefore, my heart was broken when an undergraduate asked me, “What is the importance of education if we have many billionaire school dropouts that are doing phenomenally in the business world?”
I was really taken aback by this question. So, I asked, “Is there something that has piqued your interest presently that you are sure humanity will benefit from and you need to start now, but course work is boggling you and preventing you from achieving?” Then he shrugged and said he was just asking. This is not an uncommon discussion in a society that celebrates mediocrity like it is news worthy, glamourizes sex as if it is a new concept to be explored, artistes create contents that put premium on financial achievement as if the definition of success is ‘to have a huge forex account balance, own a Bugatti Veyron, pop champagne and generally largesse with reckless abandon’. I knew instantly that I needed to disabuse his mind.
We must realize that despite dropping out of school, most of these people are in fact very intelligent. They knew what they wanted and are persistent in achieving their convictions even in the face opposition. They are people that had the urge to experiment rather than listen to theories upon theories. They gave in to the intuition to invent now rather than later. No sane parent will force a child to wait till later to achieve what he/she can achieve right now. That is why citing the dropouts who are innovators as examples to make education appear unimportant is not right. Besides, most of them shared their experiences to encourage people to take bold steps towards their dreams and not to make formal education seem worthless.
It is part of our parental duty to do the following:
1- Listen to our children’s fears/ concerns, so we can allay them swiftly. When you hear your teens talking about some dropouts that are making it big time leaving out their recipes for success – commitment, intelligence, struggles and determination – in achieving their dreams; please don’t waste time in correcting them.
2 – Let children know they must become solution providers and the first thing they must do in order to proffer solutions is to increase their personal values through informal or formal education.
3 – In addition, don’t encourage children (mostly through your attitude) to put a premium on financial success alone, it is delusional. It is one of the reasons we have many greedy and insensitive leaders that only care about looting and bleeding the country dry to keep themselves and their immediate families in comfort.
It is our duty as parents to guide our children in the path of wisdom. Most importantly, children need parental / adults’ encouragement, support, love and attention to be successful in life. Don’t be stingy when praising your children (because most parents are generous with scolding only), be present in your children’s presence especially when they want to talk, give them pep talks to boost their morale, and give them loads of love, hugs and kisses too. Don’t forget to be proud of their achievements, no matter how little. By doing this, we will be creating a better future for them and greater society together.