In this millennium it is amazing how much knowledge and expertise we command within us. With a click of a button, we can virtually travel to any destination in the world, talk to someone thousands of miles away, buy anything we want, sign up for an elite club membership, learn how to make our favourite dishes, clean our homes, get health diagnostics and even find our soulmates! We just Google -it and voila! Unfortunately, we have not discovered the apps to help us to develop, regain or keep our self- esteem, an essential ingredient in life’s journey.
The world has become a small village and the distance things no longer take time to reach. Although we fill up our surroundings with all these unfathomable ideas and toys, we have increasingly become less and less confident in our own abilities as individuals. The classic broad shoulder, straight looking upright walking man is now fast becoming extinct. Girls never know what to say to a boy they have a crush on, or even how to turn down an unpleasant advancement by an admirer. Parents also play a huge role in teaching their children these weak habits. They contribute a huge amount of negative feedback to the child. The number of ‘donts’ and ‘bad child’ synonyms flow endlessly from the time the child begins to crawl. For instance;
“Don’t talk to strangers” instead of “ It is okay to salute but do not get close to strangers”
“Do not look at people in the eyes!” Which brings identification issues when it is time to identifying an assailant.
“Go to your room!” Instead of socializing and teaching the children family socials and bonding.
“Don’t talk back to me. Don’t go here, Do not watch that program. Do this and do that… . No wonder children develop ‘dead ears’ to these words by the time they are in their teens.
I wonder how many parents really know what their children are up to in schools or colleges. How often do you ask your child, the details of the events in school? The exciting, the sad, the tough and the downright wrong things that happened? Have you listened to the story of the school bully and how he or she handled the bully? This teaches them to open up and fearlessly express themselves, as you teach them how to navigate life’s challenges. If they do not learn these skills from home, they will not learn them in school either, and not even in their adult life.
High self-esteem or confidence is necessary for everyone’s life. It is the gist in the decision-making process, in a good performance in schools or vocations, in the choice of spouse, in job searching, in promotions, in dating and marriage and in wealth creation.
Children who have been reinforced to believe in themselves tend to be more focused in their life choices, in friends they make, do well in their studies, and in their career paths. They also tend to have more confidence when faced with life’s challenges. When stuck they also reach out for help more easily. This is because they grew up doing the same. Seeking help comes more naturally to them and discussing challenges does not affect their self-esteem.
On the other hand, children who have been repeatedly intimidated, humiliated, ignored, ordered around and dismissed, grow up to be indecisive, shy, gullible, sheepish, even rebellious adults. They also have challenges communicating their feelings and thus end up being angry with everyone and everything around them; their family, their spouses, their employers, their colleagues, the government, the society etc. They feel like everyone has conspired against them and no one understands their plight. Some go the opposite way and sink into depression, seclusion, addiction and some extreme cases, commit suicide. Because no one listened and no one believed in them.
While we are struggling with breakups, divorces, poor financial health, stressful jobs, stress-related health issues we rarely link our current strife to our history. It is only prudent to realise that we are a product of what we repeatedly do, and think. We think ourselves into failure or success and our thoughts are determined by what we believe in. If you believe you are useless, weak, and lazy ( As you may have been repeatedly told) you think lowly of your capabilities.
We need to urgently refocus on what we are repeatedly loading into our children’s mind, soul and body.
We need to realign our parenting roles with the future needs of our children while at the same time nurturing the human characteristics that are blossoming within them.
We need to put technology and all modern social addictions in their right docket to end the zombie culture.
We need to retrain our future generations the importance of meaningful human interactions and communication.
More importantly, we need to teach our children that pain, strife, rejection and conflict are an integral part of humanity and even all nature, and that it is okay to disagree and still be friends, or family; that it is okay to stand for what one believes in and still not fight, that it is okay to reject and be rejected.
Parenting in this technological explosion epoch is like chartering an unknown path, in a jungle without a map. Nobody can predict what is going to be invented next. There is no parenting course that will fully prepare you for the upcoming disruptions in the society, but with your children’s help, you can be well informed and at ease with whatever may come. As guardians, mentors, confidants, teachers, role models and above all, protectors, parents quickly become obsolete in the eyes of their children especially if they play their roles poorly. Children quickly replace their parents with other individuals or groups that will play these roles better, albeit in a very rebellious way. Parents, therefore, need to upgrade their skills while at the same time maintaining their traditional purpose.
To heal the broken society, we need to bring back high self-esteem, starting from the base: at home, where parenting needs to change more urgently than later, and then the school, followed by the larger society. We cannot change or block technological progress but we can embrace every new innovation with confidence while maintaining the human person confident and enlightened.