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Parents: guardians and guides - By Jane Nannono

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Parents: guardians and guides - By Jane Nannono

Parenting is arguably considered one of the most important and most demanding job in the world. For sure it is a lifetime job. I used to call my children mine until I read Kahlil Gibran’s ‘ On Children’ in his book entitled the Prophet. This Lebanese-American artist, poet and philosopher( 1883-1931) explicitly spelt it out to me that as  a parent I was just a guardian and a guide to the children. I could not own them.


A Guardian as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary: a person who protects or defends something. A guide- a person who shows the way to others. Conducts, directs and leads the way.


This clear definition helped me do my parenthood better. As I jump on tour buses in different cities of the world, I have come to appreciate that having an enthusiastic, knowledgeable, quick-witted guide who laces facts with humour, sometimes means enough to make you move to another site while you still want to linger……………but all in the interest of time can make your day or dampen it.


As parent, I can perform my job better if I know my job description-tasks, responsibilities and a willingness to do them lovingly and yet still set firm limits.


As with any other job, the job description has a list of main tasks and responsibilities. But usually right at the bottom, there is  an ‘any other task that the supervisor may deem necessary for the development of the company/institution.’


As children grow their needs change too and the last item expands to include things like baby sitting when the parents are away, caretaking homes when the owners are away, translating the list of domestic chores to the new maid, storing extras until the owners find room for them in their new house, and a myriad more. All these are covered under that final item on the list. By this time, I am more of an advisor than a manager and yet it is still within my job description as a parent- for parenting like learning, are lifetime jobs.


The nurturing of the child’s mind and heart never stops as long as you are alive. Parents need to be there for their children, to reassure and make them feel that they belong, are valued and cared for. Children who feel secure and feel loved are happy and happy children thrive, study well and excel.


As we prepare the children for the demands of adulthood we teach them to grow from dependence to independence, responsibility, discipline and empower them to be themselves. This demands us to be the best role models – children always do what they see you do other than what you tell them to be. My greatest responsibility to them is to be the best role model I could be: having clear values and principles and a positive mental attitude about life. I should inspire them to want to be better people. Life is a journey and children need their parents to help them walk through.


And their greatest responsibility is to do what is necessary to maximize the opportunities we have given them and giving their best effort at whatever they are tasked to do or chose to do themselves. We encourage them to learn from their failures, mistakes and disappointments.


 Later I came to understand that the more I encouraged them to take risks, the more their lives improved. This happens after they have taken the first and most difficult risk of being honest with themselves. Gradually release the tight leash; letting it grow longer as they take on more responsibilities and take more risks. They will find the security and stability, independence to be themselves.


Like Mother eagle, after giving them the skills of flying and how to fend for themselves, I have had to stir up the nest- to let them soar and become true eagles in the real world. As human beings, they know that home remains a safe place to return to.


Once they become independent and self-reliant, we the managers become advisors: offering the advice in kindness, knowing very well that the advice given can be taken or not.


 I am still honing my skills in parenting; passing on my wealth of experience and wisdom at the same time improving myself: the job description requires me to remain relevant. Otherwise I shall become a relic.

Have I done a good job so far? I cannot answer that but I know I have done the best wholeheartedly under the circumstance. Only time will tell- how those I raised turn out into the real world and how they will contribute to its development.


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