Parents all around the world want the best for their kids. Everyone wishes their children to be healthy, educated and all around happy. Where parents differ is the way we chose to deliver our message. In some cases, parents can be authoritarian and inflexible and at the other end of the spectrum there are those who will never even say “no” or “stop” or “don’t” for fear of “scarring” their loved ones.
I am not qualified to say which approach – if any – is the right one or even if there is a right approach. But I do believe that our role as parents is to empower our children to be the best version of themselves. Here are five ways to do so:
1. Acting as their guide
We should strive to guide our children. It goes without saying that love is at the centre of all of this but love alone is not sufficient. In fact, there is such a thing as smothering. Coming from a place of love, we can be a guide and shine the light on our children’s own internal light. They need to find their own way. As Khalil Gibran said: “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”
2. Mistakes are powerful teachers
Guiding also means giving children the space to make mistakes and learn from them. When we allow for mistakes without shaming, without judging, without attachment to the outcome, we are on the path for real learning. When we realise that through mistakes our children (and us for that matter) can become a better version of themselves, we can welcome mistakes as powerful teachers.
3. Embracing the growth mindset
Making mistakes or failing can translate into learning. It is growing or developing day by day through dedication, hard work and resilience. And that is the essence of a growth mindset. Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck discovered this through decades of research. We should value the process of our children’s achievements over the end result, help them view challenges as opportunities, encourage them to build resilience.
4. Allowing them to get bored
Any kind of growth needs periods of rest. By rest I don’t mean sitting on a sofa, absolutely hypnotised by a screen of some sort but actual rest for the body, mind and soul. Children are constantly busy. If they’re not at school or studying, or doing their after-school activities, they are glued to their phones, computers, PS4s etc.. That doesn’t allow much time to just sit around and get bored. Why is it important to get bored? Because that is the time to daydream, to imagine what makes the heart sing, to be inspired to follow that through and to create the dream life.
5. Establishing absolute trust
Trust is the root of any healthy, loving relationship. It’s fundamental that our children can absolutely trust that we love them unconditionally. We may not like – we might even hate – their behaviour sometimes but they should never doubt that we love them for who they are regardless of what they say and do. Children should be able to trust their parents for loving them, guiding them, protecting them and nourishing them physically, mentally, emotionally. In turn, we should trust that our children will find their own beautiful way if we provide them a safe space.
Our children are better than any dream that we might have imagined for them. We should stop projecting our own unfulfilled dreams onto them for they have their own dreams. Let’s empower them to achieve those dreams and be the pillars of the future society.