I tell you, fellow adults, parents and adult caregivers can be motivated by their child – or by my child – and here is why
It is just not every day that I have a very inspiring story to tell the world. And not every day that I have the time to do so either.
You may already know that I am a mother of four children, ages, 15, 13, 11 and 8. International Day of the African Child – or Youth Day in South Africa – was a very cold public holiday. So, after breakfast, made by my husband, we all flogged into our study room, the only area in our house with a heating system.
While in the study, I am on my laptop catching up on my life while my husband and three other children are on their computers. The room was quiet for some time, except for the fidgeting of our two younger ones who were deeply immersed in computer games. About two hours later, a question came from our 13-year-old. “Mom, Dad, were you good at maths pre-matric?” Dad said yes. I said yes/no and explained.
Silence ensued. Then a big sigh from her, before the next question. “Mom, Dad, did you do well in maths in matric?”. I, No. Dad, Yes.
A long silence again. At this point, I realised that big brother was not in the room. Father inquired as to his whereabouts and was told that he is was his bedroom, probably chatting with friends on his mobile phone.
Then, the most motivational, or should I say the core question came. “Dad, mom, did you like maths, did you like your maths teachers or did you just want to do well in maths?”
Father said he liked maths.
I said I liked math until four years into high school when my teacher got me beaten for failing an assignment, and because I gave the teacher a nasty look after the beating, I was banished from maths classes for a month.
When I came back, I could never catch up again. This and other things contributed to my failing Ordinary Levels’ maths and the end of my mathematical journey.
Daughter looked at me with pity in her eyes and got intimate again with her computer. I looked over and noticed that she was taking notes. I looked at my husband and he looked at me. So, I asked her what she was doing.
She responded that she found out that in order to study Mechanical Engineering, one has to take maths every year at university. And for Aero Space Engineering at Post Grad Level, one has to have been good in maths, so she is worried.
I was amazed. Impressive, I thought to myself. As a grade eight learner, five years away from university, she has spent over three months researching her interest of study to the extent where she knows all Universities that offer the courses in the country, undergraduate registration fees for SADC and non-SADC members, whether universities in Egypt would offer courses in English or not, and comparative qualifications from Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa.
She knows the salaries at various entry levels in many different countries and the work conditions around the world. I listened to my inner self and confirmed that I have no reason to look anywhere else but my house for motivation.
At the same time, I was depressed at the thought that my 15-year-old is hooked on social media. He has never mentioned his interests, and I have not seen him conduct any research. But I decided to focus on the fact that my child can motivate me – and you.
Ways to derive motivation from children are diverse. Let me share my lessons with you:
- Look for motivation in your house. It could be from your children.
- Have an approachable relationship with your children.
- Speak the truth often.
- Do not be discouraged if one child is more motivated than the other.
- Take an interest in what your children do and encourage them.
- Let your children support you.
- Support your children’s dreams even if you know that it may not happen. It is better than destroying what would have happened.
As your family psychologist and powerful communicator, be inquisitive about your children’s lives without sounding invasive. Adults focus on motivating children and few understand that children motivate them too.
Every child has a lesson to teach us. Few adults learn from children. Now let me go and research something to do in my life. And you?
Till the next article…