As parents, we are deeply concerned about our children’s future. We are bombarded relentlessly through the media on the importance of ‘future-readying’ our children. Future-readiness requires parents, together with educators, to have insights into the future world, making ballpark guesses, albeit prophetic in nature, to prepare our children for it.
Nevertheless, preparation is key, and we want to pro-actively set the rudder right for the shaping process of our children’s lives with resources already in our own hands. You will be in for a disappointment if you are looking for short-cuts, or a surrogate for this responsibility. Spending time with our children is essential, where we impart, other than current knowledge and skills, inherited traditional values for life’s enrichment. Future readiness does not connotate the total shedding of traditional tried and tested values, but a melding and gelling of those with new-found ones into future relevancy. The following are some ways that we influence our children incrementally into future-readiness.
Let us begin with our family culture. It is a known fact that the family that eats together stays together. When the family gathers for a meal, conversation flows, everyone is kept in the loop of what each is doing or facing. Opportunities for showing love and concern abound between parents and children, and among siblings. Parents become a rich resource pool where children draw wisdom to face life’s daily challenges, under diligent and watchful parental guidance. In time to come, they would learn to marry their own knowledge and experiences with those imbibed from their parents, to develop new relevant skills to handle their future situations. Didn’t that happen to us as before? When in trouble, we fell back on how our parents tackled similar situations and applied their wise strategies, coupled with some of our own current understandings to problem-solve.
During mealtimes, we impart values such as, the proper ways to begin a meal by inviting our elders to eat, proper usage of eating utensils, table manners, taking turns to share, giving thanks for the food and to the persons who have prepared the meal, helping to set the table, and with washing the dishes after meal, etc.
In addition, festive seasons are perfect opportunities for teaching children the reason behind each celebration. A recent example would be the yearend Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations for grateful retrospection for a blessed year gone by. The upcoming Chinese New Year event reunites families and extended ones, from far and near, to a traditional, annual Joyous Reunion Dinner, an occasion to catch up with one another and meet new additions to the family; for growing children to better understand their relationships to the extended family members and the correct way of greeting each of them. These values, if faithfully cascaded, will perpetuate the family culture and ensure the reaping of benefits into the future.
Shaping our children’s character in their growing years is of paramount importance. It is never an overnight event where we pour down values into their systems and expect immediate results. It necessitates our spending time to watch and guide them to grow in wisdom and stature, playing a contributory role by setting standards for them. We shape their character through values upheld by the family such as, but not limited to, trust, resilience, unity and empowerment. We, at Agape Little Uni, set the tone for character-building, which parents could easily latch on to ensure continuity in your children’s learning and development. We emphasise the importance of trust, resilience, unity and empowerment (abbreviated as ‘TRUE’), which are embedded in our impactful curriculum and taught daily in our lessons.
Strong and effective opportunities exist for enculturing, coaching, mentoring, and influencing your children with values at home. These require a daily incremental dose for fullest internalisation, sad to say, there are no ‘short-cuts’ to it. Teaching children about trustworthiness and the importance of being truthful; bouncing back from setbacks by focusing on the positive and learning from mistakes; working together as one for all and all for one, faithful to the family unit; empowering each to do little household tasks responsibly, with close and loving guidance.
Children look to their parents as models of their behaviour, and whether we like it or not, they will reflect our behaviour back to us just like mirrors. When we see a certain trait, both good and bad, in our children, examine ourselves first of all, and you will be amazed that it stems right from us, a chip of the old block!
For example, as parents, our habitual ways of talking down at children in harsh and disrespectful tones will ricochet to us when our children become teens, and we wonder why they speak thus to us. A worst-case scenario would be children growing up with violence and practising it. Violence begets violence, as the saying goes, and unless mitigated early in children’s lives, violence may become their way of life. We have seen how grown-ups imitate their own parents in violence towards their spouse and children. Perhaps they are unaware of better ways to sort matters out except to vent their anger at family members, subconsciously following in their parents’ footsteps. On the contrary, we have seen children who are altruistic, caring and sharing. When we look at their parents, we realise that they are exact replicas of each other! There lies the secret to impacting our children, whether positively or negatively, parents have the power and the choice!
We desire to see our children succeed in life. We have, in our own arduous journey of life, learnt that skilfulness in communication will help us build relationships and inspire others; and the valuing of open-mindedness, inclusion, altruism, and viewing things from multiple perspectives are essential elements to live by. What kind of support are we giving to our children to prepare them for the future? Tangible heirlooms are handed down through the generations, but what are we doing with our life-long acquired skills? If we care to impart them to our children in daily bite-sizes, they will help our children make leaps and bounds into the future, learning winsome ways right from young, contributing to their development into future-ready beings.