Let’s prepare our children for the future

Love is in the air given that Valentine’s Day falls on this month and I know that must be the thought on many people’s minds, especially those who are dating. But I will not dwell on that topic beyond wishing everyone a happy Valentine’s Day. I bet you will find ample material on this singular day and in many other forums throughout the month.

Moving on, during the period our children were home for the longest holidays ever, many things crossed my mind about our relationship with our children and how well or badly we are preparing them for the future.

I gave myself a fail score concerning how well I have prepared my daughter for the years ahead and I can bet many parents wouldn’t score any better based on the ruckus raised when we learnt that children would be home with us for longer than we had anticipated, and also based on my observation of other children where I live.

I have a confession to make. My daughter spent 80 per cent of her waking hours during the holidays watching different cartoon shows on television and 15 per cent of her time playing.

One per cent of it was spent eating and point five per cent of it doing anything academic. The rest of the time was spent on computer games.

I remember talking tough on several occasions and making her switch off the TV and do something more constructive like reading a book but that was short-lived because my tough talk was just that – talk. Sooner or later, she would be on the remote control and I would be there watching TV with her on most evenings.

After all, “children need time to relax” for they “worked hard” throughout the school term so their minds need relaxation lest it be exhausted.

But this is the girl I want to bring up to “conquer” the world by competing and winning among the best out there. I want her to be good in swimming, good with all musical instruments and vocals, good with communication skills and a world-beater in information technology. Yes, I want her to win. To be a legend.

From the experience of those who have been there and done that, the road to success has two main ingredients: discipline and good, old hard work.

My daughter is not going to have any chance against the best in the world if all her free time is spent watching television. She won’t learn to play the piano by watching cartoon characters play the piano. No! She must sacrifice, have self-control and the patience to learn and practice for long hours.

If I’m not the only one failing in his duties as a father, I must say that we need to get serious about parenting. What kind of future are we preparing our children for? What inheritance are we bequeathing our children? Fact is we are giving our children too much space and time to lounge and indulge in food and television/video games.

But you and I know that life is not as easy. It is ruthless and unforgiving. It reduces to smithereens those who face it unprepared. The world does not care as we do. And the world is what our children will face in future, not us. Why then are we not preparing them for the world?

Brother, I’m talking to you. It’s not funny. We must leave the barstool and go home early to find out exactly how our children are spending their time. Don’t lie to yourself that it is too early to demand responsibility and commitment to duty from a 10-year-old. This is the time to shape them or lose them. Success does not come to the brightest; it comes to those who are trained for it.

As you read this, I have completely shut the television out of my daughter’s life during the week apart from Saturday and Sunday, and we have made a schedule of how her after-school hours will be spent and what chores she is expected to do.

And I have committed to ensure that she develops the discipline to play by the rules and to develop self-control. It may appear harsh but the reality out there demands that children learn responsibility from an early age.

Published in February 2017