Dreams are wonderful and children are gifts from God. Dreams fuel our zeal to do great things and become the best versions of ourselves.
Children have many dreams. They aspire to be better than their peers, engage in more challenging, yet noble professions or careers, avoid pitfalls which their parents encountered and look up to notable figures as role models. It is the desire of every good parent to see his child do better.
So, in case your 5-year-old daughter wants to be a doctor, or your 10-year-old son wants to be a footballer, or maybe your 19-year-old wants to start a career in the music industry, you should give your child the full support they need. These days, we see parents who work extra hours, juggle different jobs or trades and borrow money from co-operatives, banks and close family members to take care of their children.
In many instances, parents have had to sell their properties, liquidate investments, to ensure that their children experience the life they never had. Today, parenting in our society is a herculean task. While it was fashionable to have a big household in the past, keeping a ‘manageable family’ has become necessary because of the present economic realities. The extended family tree, which used to be the very fabric of African society has disappeared, giving way to ‘I better pass my neighbour’. Collaboration has given way to competition.
Our children are now more influenced, more daring, as a result of the prevalence of social media. Almost every child now knows how to use a mobile phone.
In my primary school days, I always thought I would be a lawyer, solely because I had lots of big cousins and aunts who studied law. The legal profession runs in my family. It was the reigning profession in the 1960s and 70s. As time went on, I began to realise that I was only imitating them because I felt it was cool to engage in arguments, win cases and even convict offenders. In secondary school, I started having a passion for English, writing and literature. I excelled at them, but my father had another idea. Whenever I showed my poems or stories to him, he would not read them. He would only manage to mutter a ‘good piece’ comment once in a blue moon. He wanted me to take up sciences instead. I enrolled in a science school and I wasn’t even halfway into my first year when I started finding it difficult to adjust to science subjects; Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry! At least, I was better at biology. I started to flounder in those subjects and my parents got worried.
‘’science is the new hit, these days.’’
‘’You can do it!’’
‘’You will handle it flawlessly if you put your mind to it’’
‘’you have the brains. You just need to study more and build yourself.’’
Those were the most common phrases they used to encourage me. I had no choice but to keep at those subjects. In my Senior Secondary 2, my results were poor, but I knew I would have done better at art subjects. I was already ahead in English tests and exams, winning spelling bees, poetry slams and essay competitions. There was no way I would ever fail woefully in English assignments, tests and exams like the other subjects. My father even hired tutors who took turns in coaching me before and during tests and exams. The passion only grew wilder in me. But I had to suppress it, for I knew I was already in another field entirely. Time passed by and WAEC and JAMB externals started. I was able to pull through because I knew there was no going back at all. I had to face my most dreaded subjects squarely, though I disliked it. I was relieved when the results were released. I had a spectacular performance. I got an A in English language.
I thought I could convince him to allow me apply for a course in the Arts, but my father had already picked a university of technology for me. Despite the persuasions from family members, especially my mother, he insisted that I study Engineering. I sucked at calculations, so how was I expected to handle calculation courses, engine drawings and the rest? I prayed fervently that I don’t get admitted into that university, but I did, eventually!
The good part of the story is that I wasn’t offered an Engineering course. I got Technology Education. We all know how our Nigerian university system is. You can literally apply for Medicine as first choice but offered Agriculture or Fishery. I was so happy that I would finally get rid of calculations for good. The rest of my stay in the university was memorable, as my course of study appealed to my aspirations. However, I know that I would have done better if had studied English.
I want to suggest that our youths should chase their dreams, and whether or not it turns out well, parents should not renege in their responsibilities. Even when they have want to change careers, parents should be there to encourage them. Occasionally, the child may require rigorous coaching and disciplining. They may also need to hear some bitter truths and frank talk. Always be there for them, and never discourage them. Do not only commend them whenever they win, but also encourage them when they don’t. Also, proffer solutions on how they can improve and get better. Praise their trials, efforts and achievements. It will only help develop a growth mindset.
Lastly, parents may also consider whether their child should quit when the situation is life threatening or when they no longer enjoy what they do anymore. May be they just need a break, or maybe it’s no longer their dream anymore. If it’s their calling, they’ll definitely get back on track. If not, they’ll always find something more appealing to try.