Tuesday, 29 April 2014

(100): Understanding the dream of your kids

This column will celebrate its 100th edition with one of the friends of this blog, parents and the youth.  It is common in our part of the world to simply send kids to school, and in this age parents are very good in spending their resources on the education of their children.

But what many parents are not good at is helping those children to have a dream, and work towards achieving that dream. Instead, the parents decide that every brilliant child in the family must be a medical doctor, not a bad choice, though, but what criteria has the father or mother used to decide that medicine is the best course for the child.

I was once told an interesting story about someone seeking admission for his daughter. You know the Nigerian way, getting admission into higher institutions of learning sometimes requires a ‘long leg’, and so if your leg is short, you have to find an influential person to make it long enough to secure the admission. This gentleman contacted a fellow teacher to assist him; so he came with the qualifications of his daughter. After studying the results carefully, the teacher told the man that based on the result he sees, it is better for the lady to study something in the social sciences. The gentleman was quite, and then replied “amma Hajiya ta ce medicine ta ke so ta karanta” (but my wife wanted her to study medicine).

An area that requires significant attention is for parents to carefully understand their children and know their dream.   That way they can help them to achieve their goals in life. This is something that needs to be done early rather than waiting until the kid finishes secondary school and starts seeking admission to university, or for the parents to simply decide that he must study engineering when his potentials are those of a lawyer who could work his way to become a Senior Advocate.

It is also important for parents to understand the most important dream of their children and help them develop a passion that will actualize such a dream. Where there are pitfalls in the dream, parents can easily guide their children into making the right decision.

I have no doubt in my mind that parents select such disciplines like medicine, engineering,  and law because they want the best for their children. When the kids fail to get into these programmes, perhaps attention is given to economics, accounting or business administration. With the exception of few, you rarely see parents encouraging their kids to study education or even journalism. But there are some critical questions you need to ask yourself as you work towards helping your kids to achieve their dream.

First is weighing the risk between imposing a discipline which they don’t like and then ending up with  a career that will never be described as a success, or making them lose the study entirely; there are many examples to prove that.

Secondly, as a parents, which option is the best between studying a course that your child hates, and graduating with a pass degree, compared to supporting him to study a course of his dream and graduating with first class or an upper second class honours?

So what do you need to do now? The answer is simple. Engage your children in a discussion right now and begin to understand their dream and career choices. Provide them with as much information as you can and develop their interest. Purchase books that align with their dreams and encourage them to study those books as part of their private study. Tell them stories about people who have followed the same process and how they succeeded, the challenges they faced, and  how they overcame such challenges. In fact in such discussion encourage your kids to tell you how they intend to follow such career and take it to a greater height.

As you prepare to start guiding your kids to achieve their dreams, be ready for some shocks as they can come up with a crazy idea.  How about if he tells you that he wants to become Wayne Rooney or Lionel Messi since football pays a lot and brings fame. Handle it with care and show him the comparative advantage of skill acquisition and contributing to society by leaving a legacy that makes impact beyond entertainment.

And finally if you have a friend who has achieved the dream of your child, visit him frequently and encourage the two parties to engage each other in meaningful conversation, so that your child can learn more from first-hand experience. The thinking and the dream of our children should not be left to be decided by the streets especially in this age when misguided elements can snatch the thinking of your child. What do you think?




  1. This is a very interesting and extremely important issue Dr. Jameel. Recently, similar discussion arised between me and a Pakistani friend. As we exchanged ideas I realised that this is not only a problem in country like Nigeria but even in places such as Pakistan and India. In the discussion, my Pakistani friend suggested that I should watch an Indian movie called "3 Idiots". I resented the idea at the beginning because I am not a fan of Indian movies. Eventually, my friend convinced me and after watching the movie it turned out to be among the most meaningful movies I have ever watched. This major message of the movie is exactly the concern you have raised here.
    Perhaps, it is time also to encourage openning centres that excel in extracting out what children are interested in. In Malaysia, for instance, I have seen such centres that by using technology and psychology they manage to get what a small kid between 4-10 years is interested in. All what parents do is just to enroll their kid for a couple of days during which the kid will be spending his days at the center.

    1. Thank you very much. Insha Allah I will look for the movie. My Brother just gave me the same advice. Accept my best wishes please.