Her eyes were turned low and her shoulders slumped, as she listened to another lecture. “You’re not worth it. All the things we do for you and you just keep slacking off; under performing and making us look ridiculous to our friends. Why can’t you just be normal and do your work as we want you to?” She looked at the floor, the only place where she could look without seeing the anger, the disappointment of her dad. “We should send you to a hard line boarding school; they would know what to do with the likes of you. If this goes on, you’ll be as worthless as an adult as you are now. How are we going to survive with a generation like yours? No guts, no brains and with everyone out there after us, our wealth and our jobs this country is going to ruins! Get out of my face!”
She looked at the door and walked away, quickly, but not too fast, as it would anger him even more. She went up to her room, tears finally streaming over her face. She had done her best, worked at all hours and still didn’t get the scores her dad wanted. She was almost happy to get to her room. She fell on her bed, her face in her pillow. What on earth was she to do? She obviously wasn’t good enough for anything if her dad was right. She turned off the light and stared at the ceiling for a long time, finally falling asleep, wondering whether parents who were more positive about their kids existed.
We now have a generation of children and youth growing up with everyone around them expressing that they have to fear people, the world, to fear their future, to fear that others will come and harm them, take their jobs. They learn to look at what they do, what they choose, with those fears in mind. Does that simulate confidence, trust and excitement about life, the world? Of course it doesn’t.
Fear is a strong emotion and politicians have used it to get re-elected for a decade now, trying to show us how everyone should be mistrusted, how military power is needed to hang onto what we have in a world filled with bad guys. It was not true then, as we know now, and it sure doesn’t help our children now to build confidence, excitement for a world interconnected, interdependent as never before.
We need to create hope for our children and we need to do it now. Hope for a future, hope for the world, for human kind and for their individual potential. We need to teach them to see the good in themselves, in their neighbors at home and in their neighbors on the other side of the world. Their neighbors do live everywhere, with the internet and instant communication, with jobs and services performed globally, products coming from all over the world. This generation needs us to focus on giving them hope. Hope is what unites us, what brings out the best in people. We remember world leaders who gave us hope fondly and a lot more than those who lived in fear. Don’t you think your children will remember you in the same way when you give them that crucial ingredient of a positive future, of hope for themselves and for human kind?
Parenting Tips: How can you do this, step by step and in your everyday life? It doesn’t matter whether you are a parent, legal guardian, foster parent or grandparent, you can do very concrete things to help your child, your grand child to hope.
1. Change your words to be positive. From ‘don’t do this’ to ‘please do that’. From ‘you can’t’ to ‘what you can do is this or this’. The brain is positive focused and it has been shown to skip words as do not. When you say ‘Don’t forget’ the brain primarily registers ‘forget’! So change it to remember and aim for what you want to happen instead of what you didn’t want to happen. Or better put, to what you HOPE will happen.
2. Focus you child on what they want to be, on what they can be, on their dreams, sense of adventure, fantasies and desires. On what they hope will happen. The world becomes a magic place again that way.
3. Show them where they are now, in skills, ability and knowledge and show them a step by step path to success. In small steps so they can achieve success, create and build more hope.
4. Teach them to see the good in people, in situations, however different the people or under pressure they may be. It doesn’t matter from what country, with what religion, what color or gender people come. We all need hope. We all want to live a happy and rich life. The boy in a gang in L.A. or Mumbai wants it as much as the woman with AIDS in Africa or in a war in Afghanistan. So do the man and his little son working in sweatshops in India or China. With hope we have a common path, a shared destination.
Most of all, it starts with you. With you seeing all this yourself. In you, in others, in situations you encounter. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself hope over fear, a smile over a frown and to see positive potential in all around you. It will brighten your days and I assure you, those of your children too.