SPIDER’S WEB with CHEELA CHILALA
A FEW months ago, while I was still constructing a family house, I went to the construction site one afternoon only to see a little boy of ten or thereabout apparently working with one of the bricklayers, because the contractor had apportioned sections to each bricklayer. Puzzled, I asked the bricklayer what the little boy was doing at the site. His answer:Â â€œHe is helping me with the work.â€
I told him what he was doing was wrong â€“ it was child labour and I would not allow it on my premises. â€œHe is my son,â€ the man said, as if that justified his action. Not amused, I talked to the contractor who hired the bricklayer. â€œHe says he wants to train the boy,â€ the contractor explained. Whereupon I told him that if I ever saw the boy at the site again, I would terminate the contract. â€œThat little boy should be in school,â€ I said, â€œnot working with his father on a building site. What makes the man think the boy should become a bricklayer like him?â€ The bricklayer never again brought his son to the building site, and I hoped he had learnt something from my firm action.
What was I hoping the bricklayer had learnt from my refusal to use my house-under-construction as a training opportunity for his son? First, that by bringing the child to the building site he was denying him the right to education. If you are a parent, do your best to give your children the best possible education because, to a large extent, their success in life depends on it.
Second, that the child had the right to pick a career of his choice. There are lots of parents who think it is their duty â€“ and right â€“ to choose a career for their child. As a parent you may provide career guidance to your child, but forcing a career on them is not wise.
There are a number of reasons why some parents impose careers on their children. Some parents think their children should pursue the same career as theirs. You cannot force your child to pursue accountancy studies simply because you are an accountant. Some other parents use their children to fulfil the dream they failed to fulfil. If they failed to become a doctor, they try to use their child to fulfil that dream by making a doctor out of the child.
The third lesson I was hoping the bricklayer learnt from my action was that by dragging his child along he was killing the childâ€™s potential to be what they ought to be. What if the child was supposed to become a pilot, doctor, army general, or university professor? By forcing your child into a particular career path, you are killing whatever they are supposed to become.
There is another type of parent who kills their childâ€™s future by subjecting them to suffering. I know of a man who proudly stated that he does not give any food, or money for food, to his children when they go to school because, according to him, he was never given food to carry to school when he was a child. He went to school without even eating breakfast and only came to eat at home after knocking off from school. In his twisted reasoning, his children must suffer the same way he did when going to school, forgetting that a hungry child cannot perform well in school. And a child whose school performance is poor has a low chance of succeeding in life.
Parents, let us give our children the education they deserve so they can get the future they deserve. Let us give our children a better life than we had so they can be motivated to work hard in school and succeed in life.
SPIDER’S WEB with CHEELA CHILALA