Someone on Facebook posted an article from Forbes about how parental behaviour can prevent our children to become “the leaders they have the potential to be.” And while I do understand the idea of some (only some!) of the points the article makes, the fundamental message actually makes me angry and sick.
WHY ON EARTH would I want my child to be a “leader”? The problem that lies behind this whole article is the thought that a person is only worthy if they’re successful. Successful means successful in a job, it means to be a leader, not some “low-working underling”, it means someone making money. This concept of worth and self-definition through your success on the job market and through the numbers in your bank account is deeply imbued in our society but it is so very toxic. Because you can only fail. There is always someone richer, more successful, more able than you. And if you’re a person whose skills lie in something that is not deemed productive and useful by society, like art, design, music, writing or basically anything creative, the odds of becoming rich (and successful) are so low, it’s staggering. (A bitter fact that both my husband and I have to experience on a daily basis.) If you’re not very lucky, extraordinarily talented or willing to work in morally ambiguous areas like e.g. advertising, the likelihood of earning more money than what suffices to sustain you is barely there.
In our society, people are forced to do things they hate just to be able to live something resembling a good life without gaining debts over debts. The reasons for this are so stretched and many that I won’t go into them, there are articles by people more knowledgeable than I all over the net.
Fact: I hate the job market and what capitalism made of our society.
But even more, I hate the idea of raising our children solely for this job market. Any concept of how to support our children should come from the idea of helping our children become curious, healthy, whole, (com)passionate and happy people who are who they want to be, not from the idea of making them “suitable” for a questionable job market, or worse, “successful”. Happiness lies not in a socially accepted job or a full bank account but in the people around you and in living a life you love without harming others. It lies in curiosity, awareness and laughter, in diversity and love. Not in some job description. That’s something I want to give to my children.
I won’t “coach” my children, I will love them and care for them. I will nurture their creativity and their respect for themselves and others. IF they at one point in their life end up as “leaders” (and then hopefully not the kind of leader you see at the top of most companies these days) it will not be because I “trained” them to be one or coaxed them in a direction I or society deemed good but because they wanted to be one in a field they love. And if they do not become leaders they will not be worthless or even only “less worthy”. And they will know it.