For generations, our society’s status quo has been maintained; but we as parents need to start raising children who will challenge this for the better. The status quo differs for most of us, for instance, International Women’s Day held earlier this week; with the theme, “Choose to Challenge”, encouraging women to call out gender bias and inequality as found in our world today.
So when we talk about what it means to challenge, we’re trying to raise children who are constantly thinking about improving things; children who are comfortable saying, “this isn’t right”, whether it’s a boy or a girl. It is more important that we’re raising our children to realize that respect is two ways; that every individual is equal in God’s sight, regardless of biological differences.
As parents, we should aim to raise children that can stand up, speak up, ask questions, and demand change in a positive direction.
How do we raise our children differently?
Our children have so much access to information, and one of the biggest things parents can do is to realize that we are not gatekeepers of information any longer; one of the biggest differences of parenting today to when we were younger was that our parents were seen as the source of information. When we have a question, to a large extent, they were the ones that will tell you what to think, what to believe, or share their values with you. Yes, there was peer pressure but usually, that was when were in school, when you got home, that was it. Now you have 24/7 access to external news, information, pressures, social media, and so on; so one of the biggest things is our children know what’s going on right under our noses.
You have some children that are very Nigerian, that they’ve never even left the shores of the country, but they might be more American in their thinking than you realize. As parents, we need to realize that our children have a lot of information, meaning their view of the world is very can be very different from what parents realize; so you need to have regular conversations with your children. The status quo starts to change because your child is seeing differently from how you see as they have access to different cultures. So we have to ask open-ended questions; we shouldn’t judge them or shut them off when they are sharing their opinion about whatever it is. As a parent, you want to spend time, understand where they’re coming from, and then you can weigh in with your perspective.
How can Parents Impact this Generation?
Parents simply have to upgrade their parenting. Parents have more wisdom, as due to this, parents have to raise their children right to put them on the right path; also ensure that your child trusts your knowledge. You must come to your child from the perspective of, “this is my role in your life, I don’t know everything, but it’s my job to guide you”.
So for even the things we don’t know as parents, we should be comfortable saying, “I don’t know that, let me spend some time researching, and I’ll come back to you”. So it’s okay to say you don’t have an answer right now, but come back to your child when you do. We’re not giving up our position as parents who have the final say, but the way we have this final say needs to change and fit the digital citizens we are raising.
This generation believes and has the internal desire to see things improve and become better. A lot of children don’t see themselves necessarily as a citizen of a particular country; they see themselves as a citizen of the world global citizens, and digital natives. They’re also a generation that, if they think about something, they believe the information is out there, they can provide or create a solution. And it’s because a lot of the entrepreneurs that they look up to are people who seem to have created businesses out of thin air. So they are in a world of possibilities and opportunities, and children are naturally born creative. Since they are already creative and innovative by nature, parents should encourage them by having a very rich and robust conversation.
How Parents can engage Children to change the political and leadership Status Quo
During the #EndSars protests, a lot of parents and old people were surprised by how this generation was so involved; and this made the older generation realize we might have mislabeled this generation, fully misunderstanding what they are about. So for many people, it changed the conversation and brought it to the fore that young adults know what’s going on more than we think.
Parents then should start talking about governance from as young as possible, obviously within the right context. But a lot of people, especially a certain generation, their language about the country and leadership can be so negative on one end, and on the other end, so dismissive; that the children are not hearing from the house. Not saying we should pretend, and say governance is good, or lie to them; because they can see that what is going on needs a lot of work.
But we as parents should be having real conversations with them about what true governance should look like; like when it’s time to vote, we shouldn’t be saying things like our vote doesn’t count. All those little comments we make are affecting our children and they’re the next generation. So as parents we need to watch our language, watch the things we say, and be careful about speaking negatively in a disempowering state. You can mention that things need to improve, and then replace that conversation with some examples of good governance.
Words for Parents
Parents need to understand that not everything in the world is as it should be. Recognize that your children are already exposed to various cultures, ways of life, and various thought processes; because of the powerful tool they hold in their hands like smartphones or laptops, they have access to the whole world, so you’d be surprised that you’re raising an American-thinking child right under your nose. So, let’s not pretend, let’s realize that our children are much more aware than we think; And that’s why as a parent, you need to upgrade your parenting style, and skills; so that you realize some of these nuances that have changed, and for you to be an effective parent you need to understand the citizens of the world that you are raising.
Parents should realize that changing the status quo is already happening; you can either be part of the conversation as a parent, or your children will leave you behind, and move on.