Before I start this I want to take the time to shout out all our amazing parents who have done wonderful jobs in raising us. Parenthood doesn’t come with a handbook and many of them made the most of their circumstances and did the best they knew how to. They have raised diamonds and in no way shape or form is this an attack against them.
After Anthony Joshua’s triumph on Saturday night he was the centre of all attention. The morning after I saw a picture of him and his mother. No man is an island and I immediately started to think about how much support he must’ve received from all his family and his mum in particular for him to be where he is today. In the media we see Joshua as a talented, humble, hardworking and driven young man. It is a breath of fresh air to see a young Black British man of Nigerian descent excelling in his field but this all didn’t happen overnight. I also do not believe it was achieved on his own. I use the example of Anthony Joshua to represent a bigger picture.
For some of us who grew up in African households we have always been pushed and encouraged to excel academically. Might I add that usually, we do. When it comes to education they (our parents) do not play and understandably so. For some of our parents they want us to seize the opportunities here that weren’t so easily accessible back home in the motherland. Many of our parents worked tirelessly to come to the UK or any part of the western world they are in to give us a better life. Truly, we can’t ever pay them back fully for all they’ve done but in essence grabbing hold of the opportunities we have that they didn’t is extremely important and a way in which we can give back. Whilst the emphasis on academic excellence is reiterated many other things got pushed to the back burner or were seen as irrelevant, less important, sadly.
I don’t like to reinforce certain stereotypes because the truth is times have changed. For example I study Music Journalism in a Creative Arts University, so it would be unfair to say ALL African parents force their children to study Medicine, Law, Architecture or Engineering, when that isn’t the case. However the truth is a lot did and still do. Along this process of focusing solely on academic excellence, especially during childhood, other talents of the child usually end up being neglected and ignored. Whether that be sports, music, art to name just a few. A lot of young people ended up sitting on their gifts and talents because their parents didn’t identify and nurture them from early on. Whether that be art classes or learning how to play an instrument. Things that could’ve been embraced to develop skills.
We all know comparison is the thief of joy, but many of us have been compared to another young person at any given time. Often I don’t believe it is done out of spite but to give us a push to work harder and never settle however sometimes it can have a negative effect and breed feelings of inadequacy and in worst cases create feelings of resentment between parent and child even as a young adult. Some young people have 2 degrees and a great job in the city and still feel they’re not doing enough when matched against the expectations of their parents. As much as young people should never be complacent and always push themselves to be greater, a pat on the back has never hurt anyone.
It’s important for some of our parents to realise that to an extent what we achieve and how far we go boils down to the foundations that were set by them.
Parents shouldn’t wait till they see someone who went down the unconventional route, excelling, before acknowledging there isn’t only one path to success. Furthermore nurturing talents or skills are just as important academia. We live in a day and age where Lawyers and Doctors aren’t the only thriving career paths. We have Musicians, Athletes, Artists and Content creators all flourishing and doing extremely well in what isn’t exactly the typical route.
Anthony Joshua is a great example to use. I don’t know him or his family personally but for him to be so successful, he would’ve had support from different angles, including his family. He is often seen acknowledging his parents. Now that he is a world champion that could not have been achieved if his parents were completely against him pursuing his passion. Whether it was at the beginning or at some point they came on board, still, a foundation was set for him to be the man he is today. Whilst a lot of the time we give credit to the person for making it, I feel like in some cases we must give credit to parents for setting the right foundation for the child to flourish. I am aware this isn’t always the case for every success story. At the same time, whilst we give credit to parents whos children are thriving, when parents are upset at their children for “underachieving”, parents need to take SOME responsibility to a certain extent.
How much so did they push or force their child down a route that wasn’t for them? Did they identify the fields their child was naturally gifted in and ignore it or were they too busy working their butts off providing for the family, that they didn’t realise what their child was best at?
Some parents would frown at their children disregarding higher education to pursue football or music (for example) full time but sometimes it’s that extra support that they need to reach their full potential.
It isn’t something that magically happens and often the comparisons are made when people are the highest points of success, parents sometimes forget that they also have to be a part of that journey and process to achieve the best results in whatever it is their child decides to pursue.
As we move forward, it’s important to take what we learn and implement it into our own lives, if and when we eventually do become parents one day.
I am not saying we should completely abandon school or education but what I am saying is that I wish some of our parents paid more attention to our gifts that aren’t necessarily “academic” and now we know better it is our duty to do better.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this read and let me know your views.