Sunday, 26 October 2008

Encouraging Our Children to have a Dream

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

I often wonder how many parents do encourage children to dream!

I watched an Oprah Winfrey show on which she paid tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. In the course the program she touched on many aspects of the “I Have a Dream” speech delivered in 1963 in the USA. Oprah wrapped up the show with the question “how will this dream live in you?”

The word “dream” made me to stop and think again. Perhaps many of us have dreams but we fear or fail to live them, I wondered.

The fear of failure could be a serious problem and could affect our dreams and entire lives. Sometimes we do not attain our dreams simply because we have a fear of failure. The Late prolific Cameroonian writer and literary critic- Dr Bate Besong, in an interview with CRTV (Cameroon’s National Television) made a similar allusion by saying “fear is one of man’s greatest enemy. Once man succeeds to conquer fear, there’s nothing more to be afraid of

Because we allow this feeling to live with us, we sometimes fall short of dreaming and encouraging our children to dream. Parents often fear what their children would grow up to be. Some want their kids to live the “parents’ dream”.

I believe it is important to deal with and overcome the fear of failure so that we will be psychologically and emotionally free to strive for success and consequently enable and encourage others to do same, starting with our own children.

Sometimes I ask my six years old daughter “what is your dream? What will you like to do when you grow up?”
She tells me “Mama I would like to be a Journalist so I can write the news and handle the debate, a nurse so I can take care of sick people, a police officer so I can control traffic, a cook so I will always prepare delicious food……………………”At times she would draw some of the things on a piece of paper.

I would listen attentively, take a look at the drawings, smile and say “that’s good girl, you must work very hard to be able to do all of these”. She wakes up the following day with a smile and narrates all that she dreamt about while she was asleep. Quite often such dreams would center on her “real life dreams.”

By doing this little exercise I have learnt a lot: children have dreams. They could go far beyond our imaginations and expectations.

No matter their age, children have visions, goals, passions, ambitions, all of which could mature if parents show some guidance and encouragement. Here, parents might need to fill their minds with the good, pure, powerful and positive- so they can work towards becoming all they dream of and want to be. Teaching them to convince themselves that they are capable, would be vital in reaching their dreams and goals.

It is evident that some of their dreams and passions are shaped by the environment in which they live in as well as the words and actions of their parents and other people in their community. Here it behooves parents to lead by example, pointing out the good they see in others and avoiding negative labeling often known to be a key factor resulting to low-self esteem in children.

Sometimes the variety of suggestions (some of them conflicting) thrown at parents might negate the validity of any specific approach to handling certain issues. However, I trust that parents and other individuals, who read this piece, will carry forward the reflections and discover how best they could encourage their children to have a dream and pursue it.

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