y the time a child is 15, he or she has met quite a number of people that have made an impression or two to them. Most probably, their philosophy in life will be shaped by the type of people that have impacted them. This goes without saying. That is why it is absolutely important to try as much as possible both to expose a child to the right people and to limit them access to the wrong influences. Parents who are hawk eyed about the types of connections that their children make have all the right reasons to do so.
A couple of months back, my very own kids were exposed to a child whose parents didn’t care about the influences made on their child by the different connections that he was exposed to. First off, this boy child was sent away to boarding school (he’s below 10 years old). Personally, I would not advocate for that. It is not wise. We can debate about it all day and year and you will not convince me. The point I am making here is simple: a child learns through association and they have no filters in them to throw out the bad and the ugly. I was thoroughly shocked when my children started cussing (they are below 7) as if there was nothing wrong with it. Our investigations revealed that they got the lesson from their “friend”. I planned to move houses there and then. Fortunately, the neighbor moved and that connection was severed.
Probably you might not choose your kids friends. Parents who try to control this aspect of their lives have it backfire spectacularly on them. [ictt-tweet-inline]The best way you can choose your kids’ friends is to cultivate certain values in them. It is these values that will help the kids to select who fits into their lives.[/ictt-tweet-inline] Indeed it is true, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will never depart from it”. That is not to say that you cannot have a direct say in the quality of connections that your child makes. The following 5 connections are important in the life of every child.
These types of connections come naturally. I think that it is not so difficult for children to make friends, unless of course you have trained them to be anti-social. It is amazing how minimal number of filters children have when forming connections. A black child connecting to a white child is seamless and natural. Even when there are misunderstandings between their connections, children forgive and forget within minutes. The only people that children cannot form friendships with are those that hurt them, scare them, are rude to them and do not care about them at the heart. There is such a thing as “Best friends”. My responsibility as a parent is to make sure that these connections are based on agreed upon values.
A friend of mine ran some coaching classes for some kids. On asking about their career aspirations, there were some that said that they wanted to be neurosurgeons. This friend of mine organized a meeting between a neurosurgeon and these kids. Although it was a one off “mentoring” session (which can still be increased to more), these children were elated. Imagine the impact such a mentor who is actually a hero to a child can have in their lives. Growing up, I really wanted to visit the Kenyan parliament when it was in session. This could have been easily arranged, but my father did not see it through. Imagine what kind of impact a connection with a legislator would have had to me. And that is why we need to be careful to make room for children in our lives who consider us to be their heroes or mentors. Parents need to make such connections. Bill Clinton made a brief connection with President John F. Kennedy. The rest is history.
Even at a young age, children can be entrepreneurial. We all marvel at the story of the child publisher as if it is something foreign. That is a testament to our culture, how we have always called children “leaders of tomorrow”…and the effect is that we do not expect anything from them now. A child can be entrepreneurial and one of the best connections that they can make is to find people of like passions. Life is lived through connections. If they can make connections that will help them bring their ideas to life and impact the world, that would be a great thing. This is one of the most important connections that they must make early on in life.
Imagine if a child would know for sure that each human has an audience that they are supposed to serve with their purpose, gifts and talents? Let me ask you a question: What do you think is the most popular audience that children prepare themselves to serve? I am sure you know the answer to that question. This could be one of the major mind shifts we can create with our children. Any “performer” knows that they must give their absolute best to their “audience”. In life, we all have audiences that we serve. A child ought to know that from the word “go”. Of course this means that as the child is refining his skills, gifts, talents and purpose, he is aware of the need for connections with the people that will benefit from it.
If you are well to do, it is very easy for your child to become “entitled”. The measure of maturity is when that child is able to respect and have connections with a friend or two that are less fortunate. This is perhaps the hardest part of connection that they can make. Human beings tend to exist in clusters and classes. It is amazing how much you can learn when you have relationships “across classes”. This types of connections help to put perspective to life.
We shall continue with these thoughts in the final installment of this series. Stay tuned.