My six year old daughter loves her Barbies and can play for endless hours in her imaginary Barbie house, having picked up a lot from the Barbie videos she has learnt to download from YouTube. She is very apt at using technology, the legacy of millennium kids, even at six years. When I become a mother, which is her way of saying when I grow up, she says she will do what Ammi does. She even says very admiringly that she will wear glasses, when she becomes a mother. ( I happen to wear glasses). My point here is that daughters are almost always likely to watch, imitate and follow their mothers and of course, sons their fathers, no matter what politically correct gender mix nonsense that passes for modern thinking out there. That’s the way it has been and that’s the way it will be in the future too.
But are we doing the things that will empower them to become successful adults? Are we giving them the sense of direction, stability and focus they need to emerge balanced, confident young men and women who can lead successful lives whether in their careers or in their personal lives? Too many young people are becoming confused, insecure individuals whose troubles can be sometimes very easy to spot. Too many are driven by trends and what is fashionable only to discover that real life is not like that at all.
As mothers of all shades, and as career women, I personally believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that the daughters and sons of our generation , whether biological, adopted or otherwise, are able to learn from our success and go on to create success themselves. There is so much we can do – and it is never too early to start. Just watch a few little girls or boys at play – you will notice that they are streets ahead of what we used to be as kids. They are technologically savvy and are able to comprehend a lot more than we could grasp. They represent a generation that has grown up with amazing technological feats that were unimaginable just ten years ago. Yet, without mentoring, they will not be able to harness the power, develop strong values and become what they should become, able to take the lead in tomorrow’s world.
A mother could always start by encouraging her daughter or her son to do things on her own ; becoming independent is a core value that will spur other qualities. There is not much point in becoming highly qualified if she is not able to do things on her own. Some mothers make the mistake of mollycoddling their daughters and their sons even into adult life. Ladies, we must know when to cut the strings. That does not mean you will lose the central place in their lives – rather, it means that they will always remember how you encouraged them to become empowered by learning to do things on their own.
Children learn from observing. If they observe you cherish values such as hard work, punctuality, responsibility and empathy, they will want to follow those traits. Teaching children the value of hard work is one of the best foundations a parent can lay in their young lives. Too often, we hear of young men and women who want the easy way out. They want cushy jobs, a senior manager once shared with me, with the perks but are not very willing to do the work. It would seem to me that they have not had the opportunity to see the value of hard work as they were growing up. Granted all the technology has made some of us lazy –we do not even have to remember any phone numbers now, just ask Siri to dial someone for you – but we can never tire of mentoring our daughters and of course our sons in the way they should be.
Empathy is a strong trait that is often absent in our circles. Just visit a public toilet to know what I mean. Thinking of others sometimes doesn’t cross our minds at all. But teaching children that other people matter as much as we ourselves do, is a vital point in ensuring that they will be set up for success later in life. Whether as colleagues, bosses or partners, they will perform best if they understand and know that all people are worthy of respect and attention.
Young men and women would benefit tremendously from being exposed to good manners from an early age. One can never underestimate the power of being well mannered. It starts early in life and it starts in the home. No matter how powerful you may be in your career or how high you are, it is your responsibility and yours alone to teach and pass on values to your children. In the process of bringing up children, there are no excuses, unfortunately. Children who have been exposed to strong values in the home are able to translate these into a stronger foundation for success in later life.
Women who have achieved success have a greater responsibility to ensure that the success trickles down into their personal lives. The world is full of unhappy children who have had to watch their immensely successful mother (or father sometimes) charm the world ; they may have yearned for that charm at home but the parent was often absent or was distracted when spending time with the family. It is important for us to know and understand at home, we are not the CEOs or the high -powered career women but mothers and wives whose attention means the world to the children. There is the story of the famous Hollywood actress who chose to live in Europe with her kids and not cash in on her Hollywood glamour. Her grown up children later said that they did not even know their mommy was a star – to them, she was just their mummy who loved them.
It is never too late to start – let us start investing in the futures of our children – let their legacy be one of building a strong foundation of values, love and confidence.