You might remember that I had said ‘I want to write about the differences between how young people are being prepared for life in our country and elsewhere’ in one of my previous articles.
Since I’m an entrepreneur and businessman, this is not my forte, but of course I have some ideas, so please allow me to share them.
The most significant difference that I have observed between our country and other developed countries in terms of raising children is that they see raising self-confident and independent individuals as a success, whereas we, on the contrary, aim to raise dependent individuals.
Maybe this has something to do with our Middle Eastern side, I don’t know.
However, isn’t it more important and difficult to raise self-confident and independent individuals?
I think we can make a good start by learning when to interfere or not when it comes to our children.
Sometimes we have to willingly let children and young people fail.
I think that one of the most crucial mistakes we make as parents is that we try to solve every single problem our children face.
In fact, because we want to make their lives easier, we sometimes anticipate these problems and constantly share our predictions and solutions—sometimes even imposing these—only to end up damaging their budding self-confidence.
I can make a generalization and say that we are a nation of overprotective parents who raise their children by continuously shielding them and unfortunately think this is ‘good’ parenting.
“I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past.” Atticus
Please consider whether or not by warning our children continuously, every single day, we are depriving them of the many essential skills and therefore taking away their ability to act on their own, which is so important to them.
In order to raise independent individuals, we need to learn when to intervene and when to guide from a distance.
I think this is how you instill self-confidence in a child.
Let me share an example that I don’t necessarily like.
In our country, when children fall down, they are lifted from the ground under any circumstances, whereas in many European countries, I have observed that the children get up by themselves, fall again, get up again, fall again, get up again, and nobody thinks this is a problem. We don’t even provide children that opportunity, I guess because we don’t see it as an opportunity.
We confuse the expectation of respect with the expectation of obedience. Even I do this from time to time, but I’m trying to learn to stop doing it.
One of the clichés in our country is: ‘why bother’.
Do we give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, and do we leave them space to apply their own original ideas that are different to ours? I feel sad sometimes.
I can’t help but wonder whether we are, in a way, prohibiting them from crossing our own boundaries.
We prevent our children from making small mistakes, while we simultaneously prevent them from learning to make their own healthy choices.
I think this may be the main reason why we, as a society, criticize each other so much.
It is unrealistic to expect our children not to be afraid of making mistakes when we are so insistent on criticizing.
Teaching how to assume responsibility is a whole different matter.
By never taking on any responsibility, they grow up unable to cope with even the simplest, everyday challenges.
It is also super important for them to develop social skills and social competences.
Not including children in daily life before they graduate from university, and etc. are all disorders that are specific to ‘our style’.
Of course, I seem to hear your rightful complaints: ‘how can we include our children in daily life when the streets are so unsafe?’ and you are right.
Although children in the United States and Europe are encouraged to do internships while they are still in high school, or to work in a few odd jobs to earn their pocket money, such practices are also considered questionable here.
In our society, all kinds of issues, from the relationship of the family with the child to the family’s financial situation can be questioned, except for a ‘trusted outsider’, and this perhaps is another Middle Eastern side of us.
I admit that this is a very difficult issue to deal with in Turkey. University graduates cannot find jobs in the fields they study, and most young people cannot even study in the departments they want to due to the current examination system. The particular results they achieve dictate where and what they study. One would be lucky to experience internships in high school.
For example my older daughter and some of her friends in Lisbon (especially those who like to be ‘independent’), pursue a variety of jobs or passions. There are those who work as waitresses, those who work in surf shops, those who save money and make small investments, there are professional athletes, so on and so forth. But as I said, these are distant dreams for Turkey, except for a small few.
Yet, isn’t being self-sufficient the first condition of becoming an individual? And this in turn, brings with it several good qualities such as self-confidence, social skills, reasoning, and making choices for oneself.
Would the later lives of two children, one of whom is overprotected by his/her parents until he/she graduates from university, and the other who works, earns money, tries different professions, experiences different places, stumbles and falls a lot before they graduate be the same? (But we have the ‘would we have said no if Oxford University was here’ attitude)
This is also a road on which we learn to be someone who can solve their own problems, be self-sufficient, and not blame others for our own decisions.
The longer we are supported by our family, the later we start living life, even the thought of this makes me sad.
We are raising unhappy and ‘confused’ youngsters who do not know what they want, cannot live alone, and are unable to develop their reasoning skills.
Oh, but of course we have a lot of good practices too.
Unlike Europeans or Americans, we show a little too much love; that much is true.
So perhaps our mental health as a society stands out, and together we are more resilient against many hardships.
We do not leave a crying child alone; we do not kick children out of the house just because they turned 18 years old. I guess that’s why we are emotionally stronger. We also know how to stand united when faced with famine and dearth.
But if we want our children to be citizens of the new world, I will say this:
– We must first show our children that making mistakes is an important part of the learning process through our own behavior.
– We must be tolerant.
– We must explain to them that success is an admirable concept, not a concept to be jealous of, and that failure is inevitable from time to time, despite being an essential aspect of moving forward.
– We should not criticize, we should motivate.
– If they talk, we should listen, if they ask, we should talk.
– We must steer clear of comparison at all cost.
– We should introduce them to art, cinema, music and sports at a young age in order to develop their worldviews.
– We should support them to get to know their immediate environments as well as the wider geography they occupy very well, and make them take note of the characteristics that make us socially strong as well as those that deem us prone to abuse.
In other words, we should pay more attention to raising young people with higher personal and social awareness.
As I wrote at the beginning, this subject is not my specialty; I only wanted to share my thoughts with you.
For those of you who want to learn more about this subject, I recommend my dear friend Dr Şirin Seçkin’s book ‘Resilience in Children’.
I asked Şirin to kindly offer a paragraph for this article, here is what she has written…
Do not interfere with the functions that children are capable of on their own. For example, if the child can walk, do not hold him; if he can eat with his hands, do not feed him; support the child to push his own limits. Don’t do their homework for them. Teach them to take responsibility for doing their own things. Don’t be overprotective; encourage them to explore life themselves. Don’t engage in helicopter parenting, that is, parenting that is constantly watching over the child and constantly trying to protect him from danger. Aim to raise them as individuals who can stand on their own feet, take care of themselves, protect their environment, take care of their friends, love and protect animals and nature, have empathy, compassion, and sensitivity to their environments and the world.