Gifting your child ‘identity’

Noel Manuel

Every child is gifted with an unimaginable potential. The potential is the quality and talent of the child that slowly emerges as the child matures in his mind and body. Apparently, it is from the adolescent stage that children gradually begin to show symptoms of ‘WHAT’ and ‘WHO’ they really want to become in life. From the manner they act, speak, play and dress, they 1\flect the seed within them. I’ve always believed that if you “Give the child something he enjoys doing, you will in fact, be adding fertilizers to the seed within him, that shall blossom into the most beautiful and precious flower one has ever seen.”

We all have dreams for our children and so do children have dreams of their own. As much as we command respect for our dreams, we need to equally respect our children’s dreams. I have often overheard some parents proudly assert their dreams. “I want my son to be an engineer I want my daughter to be a doctor I want my son to be this and that” and so on. This is common practice, which reflects deep concern. But paradoxically it also showcases the selfish attitude of the parent. In truth, what we actually want is that our children should live our dreams and not their own. We wish to mould them what we failed to become. We desire that our children achieve what we failed to achieve. In short, we strive to fulfill our dreams through our kids. We literally use them in the guise of care, love and concern. Children are not born to live other’s dreams. They have dreams of their own and they have the right to live them.

Milton and Russell were two great friends of mine. Both came from affluent families and there was nothing more they could have desired from lift. They had everything including wonderful parents. Both were ambitious young men that nurtured extraordinary talents. Milton always spoke about his desire to work as a teacher and Russell dreamed of becoming a footballer. Milton’s parents respected what their son dreamed and provided all the necessary back-up from time to time. This, despite the fact that Milton was the only son and his father a well to do businessman. On the other hand Russell’s parents were not so supportive. They often rebuked his interests and advised him to spend more time with his studies.

Russell’s potential died young while Milton’s potential nourished Today, Milton teaches in the UK while Russell is a restaurant manager working for a petty salary to upkeep his family. They say that whatever we enjoy doing is done with great zeal and enthusiasm. The results that emerge thereof are phenomenal. Similarly, every child has a strong desire to become someone in life. This burning desire eventually blossoms, if it is conditioned with the right guidance, adequate space and appropriate support. ‘I would prefer to give my kids something they enjoy doing even if they earned less rather than allowing them to do something where they earn more but keep checking on the time, all the time. ‘

A friend of mine confesses that he is a teacher by accident not choice. He aspired to be a lawyer but circumstances made his dream turn sour. Today he just about manages with his petty income; changed as many teaching jobs as often as he changes his clothes and every morning he drags himself to work. On the other hand a lady who dreamed of becoming a teacher gave up her job as a stenographer twenty - seven years ago. Today she has completed twenty seven years in a reputed school in Dimapur and is the most admired teacher.

It is true that ‘Every father would like his son to step into his own shoes.’ But it also equally important for the father to know whether the son is comfortable in his shoes. Children love their parents and are prepared to sacrifice their interests so as not to disappoint them. As parents how much are we sacrificing to allow our children pursue their desire, their identity? Remember children who pursue their dream tend to achieve much more in life than children, who merely become what others desire of them.

To appease us is not what we should expect our children to do. Instead they should appease the potential within them because the potential of any child is unimaginable, yet by trying to imagine it, we as parents and teachers can help the child reach towards it. Do not attempt to build a bridge between the child and your dream rather you should work towards building a bridge between the child and his identity.

When a child pursues what his dream and potential direct him to do, he is proactive, confident and positive. He would even go the extra mile to ensure that things are done and done well. His performance speaks more than his words and everyday brings astonishing and remarkable results. He excels with every attempt and success creeps in almost unnoticeably.

The Olympics have always been a disappointing affair for India. With a population of 100 billion people or more, we hardly manage to win a gold and at the most a silver or bronze. Whereas, countries like Korea with a population less than half of ours is more triumphant. Underdeveloped countries like Ethiopia and Uganda, which remain plagued by famines, are better performers than us at the Olympics. What is the cause of such a disappointing performance? I would term it as the selfish attitude of parents who spend most of their life conditioning their children towards achieving their own personal goals.  

Renowned rock singer Rod Stewart had worked in a petrol station before he realized how to build a bridge that could take him across towards his potential. And less than a decade later he had millions of fans the world over.

It is very natural that parents think about the well-being of their children. How to secure them, so that they could earn a livelihood throughout their lives. However, if we truly care and love our children, we must gift them their identity; allow them access to what they really want to become. Make them realize and see the potential they have and help them to build a bridge across towards it.

My middle son enjoys football. He is so obsessed with the game that at times he can go without his lunch. He is a bit poor in his studies and that’s because his interests towards football is more. I’ve never turned down a request of his and in fact weekends are football days. However, one day thought to myself, am I really doing enough to make my son realize and see his potential? Am I really building the-bridge? The answer is ‘No.’ Just granting permission doesn’t really mean that I have been allowing my son to pursue his dream. In fact, what I should be doing is try and locate a football academy where he could professionalize his interests and potential. And eventually I will be gifting him his identity.

Our country will have more heroes and achievers only when we make our kids see, realize and live their dreams and potentials.

The writer is the Coordinator of the Northeast Region (poetry Society of India) and Life Member of the Poetry Society of India. Journalist and Correspondent Eastern Panorama (News Magazine of the Northeast) Phonetics Teacher.