10 important things that all parents should teach their children. Mine didn't.

Do you sometimes have a feeling that your parents made mistakes in the way they brought you up? And they probably kept telling you that they knew what was best for you. Parents just don't get it. :-)

Here is a good example. I may be wrong, but I think there is just too much emphasis on the science subjects. Too many parents believe that the most important thing is to be good at Maths and Science, finish school and get a job. Mine did.
Now that I have children of my own and have made my fair share of mistakes, I believe this is a totally wrong approach to the topic. First of all, as Sir Ken Robinson said, there are many different types of intelligences. Not all children have to be good at Maths and Science. It's not that I am worried about my children's capabilities because I believe they got the right genes. :-) 
My family, for example, was just too big for my parents to recognise and nurture all the different talents that we all had. All they wanted was for us to be doctors or engineers. 
Important things that parents should teach their children
However, there are so many ingredients required to be successful in life. Here are just a few that come to my mind as I am writing:
  1. Making public speeches is one thing I consider to be very important in life. May be that is because I suck at it. Most people do. I was never encouraged to do such stuff when I was young. This has got to change. As a teacher I make sure that each and every child says something in front of the whole class. There is nowhere for the children to hide in my lessons.
  2. Understanding finance is also very important. Children should be taught the importance of money, how hard it is to earn it and how to use it wisely. As someone said,"The difference between poor and rich people is that the poor people spend their money while the rich people invest their money." The sooner children know this the better.
  3. Making friends and getting connected is a fundamental requirement. It's much easier to accomplish things in life when you have the right friends and connections to support you. More group-work should be encouraged in schools. 
The thing is I believe my children deserve a better foundation than I got. I would like to bring up my children differently. I want them to be entrepreneurs, creative and productive people who make a positive contribution to society. I want them to be the masters of their own destiny. Like Farrah Gray said, "Build your own dreams, or someone will hire you to build theirs." I want my children to build their own dreams. I want them to hire and not be hired.
Now that I have come to the conclusion that a lot needs to be changed in the way I bring up our children, the question is how do we go about it. This is where I am going to need support from you. If you have any ideas that you think should be implemented in order for our children to be go-getters, don't forget the comments box below. Share your ideas and let us build a better future for our children. 
Meanwhile, here is my plan. 
  1. I have been working on making myself a better man by changing habits as I wrote in my 2 posts: "Habits or Discipline" as well as "The amazing power of changing habits." This has really worked well for me. So my first step will be to teach my children good habits. Life would have been much easier for me if my parents had taught me all this when I was a child.
  2. Getting things done is one principle that I have discovered can make a huge difference  in one's life. Children need to know that putting things off is something to fight against from the very beginning. I am afraid I passed the wrong genes in this area. :-)
  3. Do what you enjoy doing. There is really no need to keep telling children that they have to be doctors, lawyers or engineers. A lot of parents make this mistake. When the right time comes I will let me children choose the profession that they love. Sometimes passion is even more important than talent or knowledge to be successful in life. As Zig Ziglar said, "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude." Doing what you love should be the starting point.
  4. Have an open mind. Encourage children to try, explore and discover new things. I will try not to limit my children by telling them you can't do this or that. They need to believe that they can achieve anything they want. Self confidence is key to having the right attitude to reach your goals. Success comes in cans and failure in cants.
  5. I believe that being an early riser is also something children need to be taught. One can accomplish a lot more by just starting early when the brain is still fresh. One can always take a short nap in the afternoon if the need arises. This will revive you for the test of the day and allow to be more productive. There should be no shame in taking a nap.
  6. Hard work pays. Like Michael Phelps said, it's like putting money in the bank that you can withdraw later. So I need to make sure that I don't hand everything to my kids on a silver platter. They need to know that effort and a little sweat is required to achieve anything in life.
  7. I will allow my children to make mistakes as long as they learn something from them. As Sir Ken Robinson said, "If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Making mistakes and learning from them or falling and getting back on your feet is what differentiates entrepreneurs from the rest of the population. By the way, if you have children who are still in school I highly encourage you to watch Sir Ken Robinson's talk about how schools kill creativity. Don't let that happen to your child. :-)
I believe that if I manage to implement these 10 things my children will be better prepared for adult life than I was. They will have the chance to achieve things that I can only dream of. These steps may sound harsh and difficult but the results will be sweet. I know my children will complain at first that other children do not have to do this or that but I have a good message prepared for that occasion - "You must do what others won't, to achieve what others don't."
Do you wish your parents had brought you up differently? Are there problems you are struggling with now that you believe are the result of the way you were brought up? Are you teaching your child different values than your parents did? Leave a comment below. If you read this whole post up to the last line, you deserve a big thank you.
Author: Churchill Madyavanhu
Sun, 14 Oct 2012