Helping Children Discover Their Own Identity
Children of today's advanced world are different
from those in the past. With easy access to modern
technology, chil dren of today are able to learn
everything they encounter in their life, including
world-class information. In terms of knowledge of the
world, one must admit, they seem to surpass children
brought up in the era when techno logical equipment
was still traditional.
The rapid growth of children's cognitive, physi cal
and social adaptations is an indication of how they
can be easily shaped by the modern vicinity. This is a
critical period when children are begin ning to try to
discover their own true identity.
Parental guidance is necessary to assist them in
leading to the correct path. To do this, intervention,
however, is not always mandatory if parents are
upbeat that their offspring can handle the conundrum
they are facing on their own. Self-reliance, in any
occasion, needs to be stressed.
What parents need to do is to respect the changes
going on within their child's world, and respond
appropriately to their changing needs. Here a close
monitoring rather than control taking is essential.
This may sound like ideal advice; yet not all
parents may agree with this. A parent who was raised
in a democratic family atmosphere will certainly
pass down the freedom he/she had enjoyed during
childhood to his/her offspring. On the other hand,
those who were brought up in a conservative and
authoritative family will inculcate traditional values
to their children, restricting them by tightly abiding to
what the parents believe to be the correct norms
Clearly, a parent's family back-ground will, exert a
considerable infl uence in helping his/her children to learn
both formally and informally. It is more likely that parents
will consistently follow the mind-set they adopted from their
father or mother if they think that it is benefi cial. Today's
parents, how ever, need to be aware that not all values and
norms that their parents implanted in them during their
childhood are compatible with modern reality. Things
have changed consider ably, and parents should take this
It might, for example, be felt less relevant to impose
traditional control over their children's conduct about
what they need to do to attain academic achievement.
However, most parents still cling to this, acting as if
they are omni scient and know perfectly what is best
for their children.
In guiding children in search of true identity,
it is important for today's parents to listen and
accommodate all feedback from their chil dren. Though
it seems too diffi cult for some conservative parents to
implement this, it is essential to a child's development
into an emo tionally mature adult.
Parents also should not exercise too much authority
so as to overprotect their children to develop their
potential to the fullest. Parental intervention, if it is done
in an improper man ner, can do more harm than good.
If not in accord with children's interests, parents'
excessive intervention is seen by chil dren as something
that inhibits rather than facilitates their academic
excursions. Parents may probably not realize that their
children simply want them to stay in the background
and to provide whatever support and resources they
need to venture out into the world.
This does not imply that intervention is not
necessary. At the very young age when the infl u ence
of a peer group is extremely powerful, parents need
to intervene by setting a strong measure to help their
children resist the pressure to behave in ways that do
not meet family standards.
The best way parents can aid their children is by
successfully discovering their true identity and growing
up to be an emotionally mature adult is to take a fl exible
approach. Parents need not always rigidly follow and
impose certain norms and values, which are imbued with
their family tradition during their childhood, on their
children. Understand ing children from the way they see
the reality is surely a far more rewarding experience.
Taken from The Jakarta Post, March 9, 2008