Every mother knows the challenges of raising children. On one end, you work hard to be able to give them everything you didn’t have and all that they need. On the other hand, you want to let them undergo some challenges and experience some form of need so they will work and strive. You want to make sure that they grow up wanting to succeed in life and having a sense of purpose and direction.
My upbringing is vastly different from that of my own four children. Growing up, we were so poor, I could only attend public school. I did not ask my parents to buy or give me anything because I still had two younger siblings. In my grade school years, I sold rubber bands and other toys so I would have extra spending money. I still had to do chores at home because we couldn’t afford a maid. Just when we thought things couldn’t get more difficult, a fire struck and burned down our home. From that time onwards, I had to work while trying to complete my studies so that I could help my parents make ends meet.
In college, I worked in the afternoons and took my classes in the morning. I was able to go to school on a scholarship based on financial need. My parents couldn’t afford to buy me books, so I had to spend many hours in the library studying so I could get my schoolwork done.
This is a sharp contrast from the childhood experiences of my own children. All four are enrolled in exclusive private schools. It is unthinkable for me to make them go out and sell mangoes as I did to have money for our next meal. Unlike myself, my children don’t wear second hand clothes from cousins or other better off relatives. There are presents during Christmas, and they always have good food to eat at all times.
I find myself conflicted at times, because it is the natural instinct of a mother to protect and provide for her children. However, there is a delicate balance between meeting their needs, and simply giving into their needs that they become spoiled. How can you raise children in today’s materialistic world that will remain grounded? How do you make them want to succeed and believe in the merit of hard work and perseverance when life is easy to them now?
I tell my children that they are lucky, because they are living my dream. All four are enjoying the life I would have wanted as a child. They don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, or how to get money to pay for a school field trip. I didn’t even go on my school field trips because I didn’t bother asking for money from my parents for such things. They have the same clothes their peers do, and are able to go on trips for vacation.
I tell them that I wish for them to become successful in their own endeavors. My wish for them is to be ready for the world. I try not to give them everything, so that they will still have things to aspire for. The value of a good education and excelling in school through hard work is deeply ingrained in each one. After all, I can’t do their homework for them. As a mother, I can only prepare them for the world by instilling them the proper values.
I am proud of my children and I am glad I am able to give them the life that they are now enjoying. I hope that I have shown through example what one needs to do to succeed and overcome the odds in life.
Raising children with a privileged lifestyle so that they become mature, responsible adults is a difficult task. Making sure they don’t become lazy or have a false sense of entitlement, wherein they think the world will be handed to them on a silver platter is something I wish to ensure. There are times I give in, especially when I see the joy in their faces when getting a new video game, or experiencing an activity I would not have been able to do as a child myself. But part of loving your child is learning when to say no. Rewards for a job well done don’t have to be in the form of a new toy or outfit. It can be going out and spending time as a family, or a big hug or the look of pride in my eyes.
My success is not theirs, although they benefit from it. However, they will soon learn that they will need to make their own mark in the world. I tell them that when they get older, they will need to find their own niche or business and make it a success. However, they are still young and have much to learn, and I have great hopes for them.