Written by Zeinat E. Issahaku
Growing up, my dad never did bother any of us about grades. His major concern was to make sure that everyone’s school fees were paid and school supplies provided. His reason, he wanted to make sure there was no excuse for bringing a bad grade home.
His technique worked for me especially, even though I knew I won’t be getting any ass-whooping or scolding for coming home with bad grades, the mere conscience of never having to worry about not having everything I needed for school made me sit up and learn.
I remember when our youngest sibling got an average score in her final exam. As a big sister, I chastised her for watching too much television and not studying enough. My dad who was inside and heard me screaming on top of my voice came out, held my sister’s hand, congratulated and killed a chicken for her to celebrate. One would ask, why would anyone celebrate failure? Well, my dad did, and as I grow up, I have come to understand his motives.
By the time I completed senior high school, I was very sure of what I wanted to be in the future. My dad, however, was bent on taking me to nursing school because he felt it was a much more secured career. That was the only time he was close to deciding my life for me. I bet he would have been disappointed now following the current situation of nurses in Ghana. I was able to convince him that I wanted to study journalism. Thankfully for me, I had a very supportive mum who encouraged me to get into journalism school.
Why am I boring you all with these stories? A couple of months ago, I woke up to the sad news of a University of Ghana student committing suicide due to alleged poor grades and it set me thinking. What if the father of this young man had not put so much pressure on him like my dad did? What if this young man was allowed to explore his talents? Would he have ended up in medical school and ended up killing himself because he couldn’t keep up?
The answers to these questions and more lead us to this undying fact that a lot of youth today are not living their lives but living their parents. Parents who are doctors expect their children to be doctors, parents who are lawyers expect their children to be lawyers, and the list goes on. They forget that children have their dreams and aspirations. Once they are paying for your tuition, they want to tell you what courses to study and what career paths to choose.
Don’t get me wrong, parents are supposed to be our guides make us know what living our dreams and living, in reality, means but that doesn’t mean forcing anything down anyone’s throat. There’s just but a handful of young people who have been blessed with supportive parents or have had the confidence to stick to pursuing their dreams. The majority who aren’t confident enough to pursue their dreams are sinking in courses that they have no interest in ending up with jobs that they have no passion for.
Achieving one’s dream is most often than not a very long shot, but the world is changing and with social media, things are getting a bit easier. Allowing and guiding a kid to choose his/her path is better than losing a one because he/she could not keep up with the path you chose for him/her.
To me, helping children follow their dreams is the most important job of a parent, and so no parent should allow their child to reach a point in their life where they think they had an opportunity and missed it.