Following the resignation of Mugabe in Zimbabwe this week I have experienced a sweeping of emotion. Watching the thousands of people gathering for shared joy, excitement and hope has warmed my heart. It renews my own hope for myself, my dreams for my life and for the future. We do not know what tomorrow will bring for Zimbabwe, but then we never know what tomorrow will bring. The future will always lie in the unknown; tomorrow, next week, next year and 20 years down the track.
So what about preparing our children for it?
I think this is one of the most frightening and exciting aspects of being a parent and being an educator. We are preparing our children for a future that we do not know.
What we do know however, is that the world will continue to change with each passing year, change is inevitable. So how do we prepare our children for that? What do we do now that will enable them to grow and thrive in the future, no matter what it looks like?
To be honest, I am worried. The today that was my future when I was a child is wildly different to what I thought it would be. I don’t think my parents could have known where the world would go and what we would have to experience when we flew the nest. However, it is not the unknown that worries me. I am worried because so many people are unhappy. So many people are struggling, not just to make ends meet but to find joy and purpose in their lives.
Our health is suffering to; our physical, emotional and mental health is balancing on a tight rope and I feel that many people are floundering. The number of children suffering from depression and anxiety and as a result of bullying is overwhelming and even more so are the young people that take their own lives.
If I think too much about it, I go down hill. As a mother I want my children to be okay in this world; to thrive in it and to find purpose to their lives despite what’s going on around them. OK, so how do we do that?
Something that stands clear for me is that while the world has changed dramatically over time, the education system and some parenting strategies have stood still. Maybe this has more of an impact than we realise. Now be clear, most of the time our intentions are pure. I just feel we need to ask different questions and search for our answers in new places.
I believe that something we can do is to stop searching for answers in the vortex of our own minds, and in the systems we have created to house the incredible responsibility of raising and educating our children. Instead I would suggest we look to our children. Yes, I believe our children may hold the answers we seek.
There are qualities inherent in children and in childhood that may just set us all free. We must expand our understanding of just how incredible they are. Why is it that a child that has been abused, still finds the capacity to love? Why do they seek to please us, to belong? Why do they recoil when they feel they have failed? Why do they believe in angels and superheroes? How do they move from total dependence to independence in such a short time and with very little intervention? The answers to these questions lie in the FACT that children are INCREDIBLE and they are the truest expression of human potential.
The very things we deem ‘childish’ actually hold the keys to a better life for our children. We forget these things as we embark on a rigorous agenda of our own and of the generations before us; molding, shaping, disciplining, demanding, controlling. The list goes on and on and still there are no guarantees of success.
I believe we need to allow children to truly flourish and we can only do that by understanding them and by seeing how their innate qualities are actually our allies, not our enemies.
In a world of so many unknowns and so little we can actually control, we need to know ourselves and use what we have within us to find purpose to it all. Our children will not be able to do that if we continue to try and control who they are and who they will become. If we continue to think we always know better they will continue to get lost in the wilderness of life.
So what are these qualities?
Before I tell you the treasures I have found I would challenge you to watch your children over the next couple of days. Open your own heart to the magic in them, yes even if they are having a tantrum, and please tell us what you see. Remember these qualities are not something we have taught them, they are inherent!