When one gets to talk to adults of a certain age, discussion invariably turns to their children. In the early stages these discussions mainly feature the excellent attainments of their offspring. This could be socially, sporting, academically or otherwise, but it will always be portrayed in a positive light.
However, as relationships develop, conversations will often migrate to discussions on parental disappointments. These could be to do with job choices, partnership choices or even where they choose to locate.
I have sometimes encountered extreme cases where parents have lamented that their offspring turned down the parent’s potential choices for partners or pre-selected jobs.
It got me wondering why parents see it as their role to continue to guide their children’s lives even after they have reached adulthood. Do they see non-conventional choices as embarrassing and reducing their conversational options? Do they regard children that disregard their advice as failures, or do they fail to understand that the true failure is to not support a young person making their own choices?
I have always believed that a child is born entrepreneurial and that they start from day one trying to work things out for themselves. They know they need food, and they may need a bit of mentoring to find the nipple or teat, but that is the limit of the learning process.
Throughout life they will try things even when there isn’t an over-protective parent around. However, in many cases, parents have become increasingly risk adverse when rearing their children. This has often been brought about by a society that is equally risk adverse.
People become afraid that an abrasion from falling over, or a bruise when climbing a tree, will result in litigation. That is not to say that real cases of abuse should not be punished to the highest degree, but this should not impinge on natural child development.
This risk-adverse approach carries on through education and into work life in many cases and the result is to discourage children and young people from independent thinking.
Too many parents think that there is an ideal course for the perfect child to pursue through adulthood and that it is their role to keep the person on that path. The result is either the rebellious child that refuses any mentoring role from their parent or someone that follows their parents’ choices rather than their own.
The result of this is that the entrepreneurial approach of discovery from birth is overtaken by the need to follow invisible rules of potential success. Only now are universities identifying courses that do not lead to employment but to the opportunity for pushy parents to attend a graduation ceremony.
There is an increasing need for entrepreneurship as today’s many problems will not be solved by conventional means. Many of our young people recognise the problems but have been stripped of the entrepreneurial thinking that is needed for them to solve the problems. Is there any wonder that young people are frustrated?
Everyone tells us that the planet is time limited for solving many of today’s problems. It is therefore time limited in releasing the entrepreneurial spirit that is born in every child. Unless parents stop deciding what they offspring should do and allow them to choose their own path, we will continue to unmake our potential entrepreneurs.
I would not object so much if we had done so well with our influencing. But as I look at our world today, I must side with the young people. We cannot say that our method has worked particularly well and they should be given the skills and opportunity to unmake our mess.