Encouraging Meaningful Pursuits in Our Children’s Lives

My son was born in Feb 2017. As first-time parents, the question of how my wife and I intend to raise him in a world where even adults occasionally encounter challenges in manoeuvring is a common bed time discussion topic.

For many of us, our children carry with them our hope of what we envision to be our better selves. Unfortunately, in today’s society, this vision is often defined in a manner that focuses upon the importance of academic achievements. Armed with enthusiasm to nudge our children towards this vision, some parents, forgetting that more is not always better, would pack their children’ schedule with tuition or enrichment classes; said to be able to help improve grades or intellectual development. Activities, in whatever forms, are from the lens of these parents always seen as a means to an end and has to be accompanied by an immediately functional reason. This tendency becomes even more amplified in our hyper competitive society where parents are driven by the fear of their kids losing out to their peers. In the course of doing so, some parents may even become disappointed when their children did not outwardly meet their expectation.

While all parents seek the best for their children, such hyper pragmatic way of looking at things can turn out to be counterproductive. Instead of bringing out the best in our children, restriction on what pass as purposeful activities may turn out to discourage creative thinking and the acquisition of other important values in life. Key among them is a sense of self-worth that is developed from knowing that one’s directed effort and patience are necessary ingredients for success. Through exposure to hands-on and non-book based activities, this is also where our children learn to be resourceful and work with others to solve practical problems outside of the classroom. When parents participate in the same activities with their children, this provides an opportunity for both parties to learn more about each others’ strengths and weakness, thereby strengthening the relationship.

Every child is unique and special in their own way, and they will come to acquire their own unique way of experiencing and appreciating what the world has to offer. As parents, the best thing that we can do for our children is to prepare them with the right tools and values, while appreciating that “No one can build you (our children) the bridge on which you, and only you, can cross the river of life”.