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As parents, the best thing we can do is empowering children to think for themselves, instead of just to follow what others ask of them.
Someone had once asked me “Did you not always want to be a queen?” I replied “I did not even want to be class monitor.”
Being queen or any sort of authoritarian figure (politician, manager etc), is not my cup of tea. I am not comfortable with telling other people what to do. I believe in live and let live. I try to impose my self on other people as little as possible and expect the same courtesy from them.
But now I am raising two daughters. A mother too is an authoritarian figure. An infant comes in to the world completely helpless. So the live and let live policy can’t really work. To start with we have to do everything for them and while this is not most tactfully expressed, the truth is, that they are almost entirely under our control.
As they grow up, we as parents need to gradually relinquish control and empower them. But how do we do this?
In my opinion, what we teach our children, needs to be broad and applicable no matter what path they choose. It is not for us to choose the destination or the path, but only to equip them for the journey with tools that will serve them best.
Here are the things I believe we need to teach our children to empower them:
When I was pregnant with our first child my husband and I agreed that the really important thing was to teach her to think – Not what to think, but how to think.
Technology and society are evolving at a fast pace. technology that is cutting edge today will soon become obsolete and we have seen that some social practices that were considered honourable a few decades ago are considered silly and sometimes even cruel.
As parents in a rapidly changing world teaching our kids what to think is neither useful nor prudent. On the other hand,the world is full of people trying to convert individuals to their way of thinking. They use many tricks. we need to teach our kids critical thinking so they are not easily taken advantage of.
If our kids learn critical thinking, they can make their own decisions with confidence and they are less likely to be deceived. Then as parents we can give them the freedom to soar and trust them to make good choices.
Power and is often seen as the control one has over ones environment or other people. But these are just some signs of power, not the root.
Meaningful strength must come from within, from battling insecurities and conquering fears. Introspection, self evaluation and a constant struggle for self-improvement is the key to building strength. Introspection not only helps you know your strengths and weaknesses, but also helps you see the insecurities in those trying to shout you down, and you cease to fear them, or be affected by them.
And knowing what you enjoy and are good at, and pursuing it relentlessly is the path to satisfaction and confidence. This confidence becomes evident in your demeanour and interactions and gives you a sense of strength and power that comes from within. It stays with you even through failure, and helps you rebuild.
Teaching our kids introspection will help them build on their strengths, work on their weaknesses, learn from failure, instead of despairing in it, and empower them to face the world.
Finally, no matter what we undertake, even in pursuing our greatest passions, there will always be some aspects that are tedious. It is essential to have the grit and discipline to get through these aspects to achieve our goals. Discipline is best inculcated early in life so that it becomes a habit.
Teaching our kids discipline will help them get past the essential yet unpleasant parts of their journey to reach their dreams.
The holy trinity of critical thinking, introspection and discipline tempered with consideration and empathy should well equip our children to face most of life’s challenges.
Image source: shutterstock.
Kanika G, a physicist by training and a mother of 2 girls, started writing to
Very lucid post !! Excellent guidance to parents!! Unfortunately as middle class parents we sometimes become slaves to a chosen education system, even when it presents a path that seems to be at tangents with our critical thinking and introspection. Their methods of learning, exploring and understanding the world seems so skewed and incongruous, yet we tend to thrust it upon our kids. However, we must NOT fall into the trap of playing the blame game and instead take steps to rectify whatever we can. Often I think we do so get lost in the chaos of modern living, that we lose a sense of priority in specific areas of life. This post is really helpful I think to re-orient oneself as a parent on the better path…Thank you Kanika!
Thanks for the feedback Sonia and glad you found the article useful 🙂
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