Lesson for life

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Lesson for life

A FRIEND sent me a picture purportedly taken at a MARA junior college in Pekan, Pahang.

The college is a boarding school for secondary school students in the 13-17 age group.

It was a notice by the principal to convey this message: “If you’re delivering your child’s forgotten food, books, homework, shoes, instruments, etc., please turn around and leave. Your children will learn to solve problem and take responsibilities for the consequences of your absence. Thank you.”

What do you think about the principal’s message? It may sound harsh but there’s a lot of truth and wisdom within.

Our instincts will always be to shelter and protect our children from everything and everyone.

If we see strangers around, our guards are raised. When the children fall, we throw ourselves to catch them before they hit the ground. When they can’t do something, we’re quick to fix it for them.

While our intention is noble, have we ever considered the long-term consequences of over-sheltering and protecting? A better strategy is to let them experience the consequences within a reasonably safe environment.

“It is not a parent’s job to protect their kids from everything. It’s our job to give them the skills to overcome difficult situations,” wrote Katie Smith, a parenting blogger.

“We can do this in a gracious way that makes them want to learn and become empathetic and passionate. If we don’t teach them to work hard through struggles, how will they learn? We can follow up by teaching them to see beyond the hurt and find the strength in a difficult situation — to remind them they are capable of doing hard things.”


Most of the time, parents fail to train their children to be independent. They may think the child is too young, unable to do things on their own or it’s just not their job. This is a wasted opportunity because children need to be trained to be independent.

Besides, imagine the kind of signals we are sending if we keep doing everything for them? Children will read that they’re not capable of doing things on their own, which in turn will lead to poor self-esteem, and affect their creative and critical thinking.

So, what can we do today to start preparing them for the future?

I call this step as creating artificial struggles. It’s for them to do the hard work today for an easier tomorrow. There are plenty of smart and easy ways to train our kids to be independent.

Start by assigning them a specific chore at home. In doing so, we’re actively training them to have some responsibilities in life.

Reward them with praises for jobs well done. Similarly, they’ll be held accountable, with pre-agreed consequences, should they fail to deliver.

If our children get into trouble at school for forgetting pocket money or homework, it’s probably the best lesson they can get.

Despite our parental instincts to intervene, it’s best to let go and let them solve the problem and face the consequences. That’s how they grow their capabilities. It may even be a lesson for life.

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