by Jennifer Shakeel
I don’t believe that there is a parent in the world that doesn’t look at their child or children and hope that they are going to be good parents and hope that our children will have a better or easier life then we had where they are able to achieve more then we have. As moms and dad we know that life is not easy and that we are constantly faced with disappointments and limitations that can seem impossible to overcome. What we need to teach our children is to have hope. “Once you choose hope, anything's possible,” as said by Christopher Reeve.
I believe that hope is something we are all born with and it is life and the people that surround us on a daily basis either nurture or destroy. As parents it is one of our responsibilities to teach our children how to keep that hope and us it to help them achieve whatever it is they want. Along with that though goes teaching our children determination and hoe to overcome obstacles and adversity.
I am reminded of a saying that I heard over and over in my childhood, which was “adversity builds character.” Whenever something was rough or simply not going the way I wanted it to, that is what my dad would say to me. I would just look at him and wonder how that silly phrase was going to help me. Adversity is nothing more then a challenge, and learning how to conquer that challenge, having the drive to attempt to conquer that challenge and then learn from the fact that sometimes life isn’t going to go your way but having the determination to continue on is what adversity is.
My dad was supportive of whatever it was we wanted to do. But he never bailed us out. When we were small, and climbed a tree he would stand on the ground and cheer for us. But when it was time to come down and we were crying and scared, he would simply say, “You got yourself up there, now figure out how to get down.” He would stand there for a minute watching and then walk away. While some people may think that is cruel and mean, what he taught us was that it was up to us and that we could do it if we put our minds to it.
So as you are sitting there reading this thinking about your own children, by the way I have much the same philosophy with my own children that my dad had with me, on how you can teach your children to have hope and build determination you need to only take a look around you. First start at home, you are the best resource that your child could have. Which means that you should live a life filled with hope. Take an honest look at how you live your life, are you easily defeated? Do you give up when a situation looks bleak? Or do you reach down and pull up the boot straps and forge forward to make the best of what is before you, determined that things will get better?
When you child is faced with a disappointment it is important that you listen to them. What are they disappointed about? How are they feeling about the situation and what are they going to do about it? Give them examples of when you were in a situation similar to theirs and what you did. Help them come up with a plan to overcome the situation. DON”T do it for them, but help them.
The next place to look for examples of hope could be cartoons, if your child watches cartoons. You can go all the back to Bugs Bunny, Wild E Coyote never caught Road Runner but he never gave up hope. He was constantly coming up with new plans and new ideas to try to catch him. Rugrats are the same, they are a group of babies that are usually locked in a playpen, but they always come up with a plan to get out of there. When there is a problem they are faced with they work together to overcome it.
Perhaps now is the time for you to have them take a look at the world. This week one of the most incredible and historic events took place. The presidential election, yes we have had presidential elections in the past, but none of them were like this. I can honestly tell you that I never thought I would live long enough to see a woman get as far as she did in the presidential race and that I would see an African American male elected to lead our country. If nothing else in the world should fill people with hope and determination those two things should. President Elect Barack Obama did not come from money, he wasn’t handed anything in his life. He worked hard to be where he is and he never gave up. He had hope and determination and he accomplished his dream.
We as parents need to instill in our children that they should never lose hope. Hope is the one thing that keeps you going, that makes life worth while, that helps you have the life you dream of. The best way to teach our children this is through example, not only our example, but through the example of other people who have overcome great obstacles to achieve their dreams.
Abe Lincoln was a poor boy that grew up in a cabin, whose mother passed away when he was very, very young. He became President of the United States. Albert Einstein was thought to be a lazy flake who would never amount to anything, he is now known as one of the greatest minds of our time. Lance Armstrong battled cancer, when the odds were against him and he came back to win the Tour de France seven times. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, only to continue to improve his skills and become the world’s greatest basketball player of all time. Michael Phelps was seen as a problem child that would never amount to anything because of his ADHD, he is now the greatest athlete of all time, accomplishing what every said couldn’t be done.
You overcame whatever obstacles laid in your path to be the person you are today and have that beautiful child that looks up to you, as they think that there is no greater person in this world then their mom or dad. That is hope. That is what you need to teach your child.
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience. As a mother of two incredible children with one on the way, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting and the joys and changes that come with it. Together we can laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that we are moms!