My cousin Tina talked like a radio. She was loud and she talked too fast. She talked and never got tired. While we walked to fetch water, Tina talked to and from the well. She had different jokes for every situation. But there was one problem. Tina’s lips were pulled by every mature person we had in our family more times than they were smeared with Vaseline.
Our relatives thought she was an embarrassment. How does a girl brought up in our kind of cultural home be so careless and bubbly? It was not allowed to be loud and talkative. If you were that kind of child, they gave you names like; parrot or sewing machine. Tina had a rough time changing her character to meet people’s expectations. Today, Tina is the most celebrated radio presenter in my district. She is still loud, funny and bubbly. She was never “tamed” or confined by society.
Different children have different characters. They are created differently with different unique talents. Some talents we know and can spot early, others we don’t know and can’t really tell that they are useful talents.
As parents we fear to raise children who are “different” from the usual. When we spot a difference, we try so hard make them conform to the standards society has put in place for the everyday child. We compare them to everybody else and demand them to be like others. But why? We are tough and we become judgmental. We find our selves saying things like; “Don’t dance like that. Girls are supposed to be calm and put together. Leave that to the boys”, or we say, “You can’t join the boxing club. That’s a boys game”, maybe we say, “Bicycle competitions aren’t for us. Leave it to your brothers”.
Parents, I think this is wrong. We are supposed to empower our children. Support them and encourage improvement of different talents. We are supposed to spot unveil and celebrate the difference.
Talent is everything. It makes your child stand out, it makes them proud to be different and if well groomed, talent could be a future source of income to your child.
Find a line between what you must do for your child’s good upbringing and talent development. You can encourage your child to be different and at the same time teach them to consider what society expects of them as children. Show them that Its okay to do karate, use this skill for self-defense and not for bullying the unskilled children.