Cultivating Talent, A Father’s Insight

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I was talking with my wife the other day. We were having a nice conversation about our childhoods. She was telling me that even though she is grown up, she still looks for encouragement from her parents. Being an artist, she genuinely cares what her parents think of her art work.

This got me thinking about how as kids we never truly stop looking at our parents for approval, for gratification. It’s that sweet soul candy we are genetically modified to seek. To look up to our heroes and for them to say, “you make me proud”.

I started looking back at my childhood. At the times when I made something, or achieved something, or felt like I had accomplished something my dad would be proud of. Most of the time I didn’t get that satisfying “son, you make me proud”, moment. Growing up I searched for it in other people, in all people. I would constantly need gratification for my work, for who I was.

Our parents, and by our I’m speaking from experience on the Asian parental unit, (I’m sure this applies to all parents in general though), took great efforts to come to America, educate themselves, and work to raise us.  This extreme sacrifice of energy and time is an achievement many of us will never match.  Most of our fathers and mothers did have to walk up the proverbial steep hill, twice, to get to work and back.

All this effort was an immense burden undertaken solely for the happiness of their children. It is utterly humbling.

This monumental challenge, however, is overlooked by said children. They don’t realize the sacrifice, they don’t see the hardships, they only enjoy the fruits of their labor. This leads to a massive canyon, dividing parent-child relationships.  A canyon on which one side parents are shouting, on the other, children not listening. It is a serious issue. An issue I have seen first hand in many, many households.

I have had talks with teenagers who all complain that their parents just don’t understand them. Whats funny is, parents tell me the same thing.

So, how do we solve this great divide, if you will?

A wise man once said that to understand someone else you must put yourself in their shoes. To see from their perspective. If you can do that, you can gain an understanding that will lead to compassion and mercy. Two major ingredients needed to resolve any conflict.

Sometimes life bestows on you this holy grail of perspective. Case and point, becoming a parent.

When I became a father I was young, naive. I was 24 years old and knew nothing about being a father. I suppose most fathers are born this way. We learn on the job, becoming experts in our field soon enough. As the days turned to weeks, I started having epiphanies. I still have them to this day, my beautiful daughter is two years old now, and with each I gain perspective.

I start to see what my parents saw, how and most importantly, why they acted the way they did. At the same time I still hold close the emotional holes left by their unwillingness to nurture my creative needs. It’s a problem that plagues most homes. Kid’s are told to put aside their painting, writing, break dancing, basketball playing, self expressing creativity, and focus on being…wait for it….realistic.

Money

Money, or lack of it, is the driving cause of fear. If you don’t have money, you cant raise a family, you can’t eat, you cant support yourself, and you’ll die a miserable death all alone by the side of the road. Pretty convincing if you’re a wide eyed 10 year old who knows nothing about the “real” world. These types of misinformed, fear inducing, conversations are what drive a wedge deeper into that canyon. Parents need to start nurturing creativity and building talent. I believe if parents focused their efforts on cultivating talent, interests, and passions we would see the emergence of brilliance. Kids need to be told to follow their dreams, hell most adults I know need to be told this fact. So stop. Stop fearing the worst, and start seeing the best. The best in your children, because it is that development, that thought process that will strengthen your bond. It is the relentless encouragement, appreciation, and understanding that will lead to happier families which in turn will produce some amazing adults, which will lead us all to a more sustainable, fostering, progressive, society.

-Omar M


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