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Tuesday, 10 October 2017 13:36

Equality, Entitlement and Raising Our Children

There seems to be quite a big misconception of ‘equality’ and ‘equal opportunity’, I decided to embark on these ideas in this blog.

We cannot make all children ‘equal’ but we can ‘raise them’

It starts with the very clear and concise idea that all children are unique. To classify them as equal would mean they are exactly the same. This then begs the question ‘If children are different should we not give them each the opportunity appropriate for their needs?’

If you assume that all children are equal the natural order of things would mean they all have the same needs. Reality check, um no. Not every child needs glasses, not every child needs mobility devices, not every child needs a hearing aid and not every child can ride a horse (some may even wish not to ride a horse). If we gave every child the same thing we are in fact giving some children useless tools and wasting resources.

Unfortunately, we also do not live in Utopia. We live in a world that is filled with strife, adversities, and inequality. Now, I do not know about you but I can say that the adversities I have faced have not been easy, hell some I would have preferred not to have faced, but they have made me who I am. The fact that I have ADHD means I am highly creative and spontaneous. It also means that I can become frustrated easily and tend to forget most things. I come from a single parent family, my mom worked full time and we struggled financially. Today, I have a huge sense of responsibility because I never allowed my difficulties to dominate my life. I never spent my time burdening others with my challenges, I believe many people may have perceived me as ultra-privileged (I do not say that I wasn’t privileged in many ways but I certainly did not have all the luxuries or privileges I think people believed I had – misconceptions really do bother me). I also realize that my adversities pale in comparison to others and others individual adversities seem to be peachy in contrast to mine (heck pass me some of those).

The truth is if we were are all the same, lived the same lives, given the same opportunities and everything was equal, life would be robotic with no humanity. If we lived lives like this there would not be individuals like Brenda Fassie, Ntombomzi Tsotetsi and Natalie du Toit. These remarkable individuals have achieved in their lives. Some with more strife than others but they have left their mark forever. They cannot be replaced. Do we, as a society, want to break all success to mould everyone into the ‘same mould’? We are not identical.

Does it worry me that I may never be part of what society perceives as elite? Does it worry me that some people are more wealthy than me? That some people have fewer adversities to face? Of course, it does, BUT if these differences were not there I would have nothing to strive for, nothing to excel towards and nothing to aspire to. The only adversities that I feel are wholly unjustified and cruel are results of crime.

But we cannot all be the same, we cannot all have the same looks, physical and intellectual abilities, the same wealth and the same destiny. This is not possible. If it were, in essence, we would be wishing individuality away but perhaps that is part of the ambitions of factions of society?

How different would life be if everyone was ‘equal’?

Following this idea, is the importance of ‘equality opportunity’. Again, we cannot all be offered the same. Some parents have worked and are working incredibly hard to offer their child everything in their power as parents – do you have the right to take that away? Demand that they forfeit their child’s opportunity after their hard work and labor so that everyone has ‘equality’? Or what about the child who works day and night to achieve her scholarship? Will you tell that child ‘Sorry, you cannot have it because ‘equality’?’ Or tell a child who needs a hearing aid they may not have one because it would be unfair if they received and other children didn’t?

My idea of ‘equal opportunity’ is that those parents who work hard have the opportunity to pay for a better education for their child (which they may have never received), that the child who is diligent and dedicated be given the chance to be rewarded that scholarship (not a child who has done nothing but is being awarded based on ‘requirements’) and that the child who requires a hearing aid be given a hearing aid (it might not be the smartest but that its function fulfills that child’s need).

These opportunities are what gives us, as individuals, something to strive for and set goals. There will always be something to work towards. If we take that away and say everyone will receive the same – we in effect are killing motivation, killing desires, killing accomplishment, killing success. No one wants work for no reward or knows that their reward will be given to someone else. No one wants to shoulder the responsibility for someone else, no one wants to carry someone else's burden, no one wants to carry those if there are no rewards whether it be material, physical or emotional.

There are occasional who chose to do these out of goodwill but if you take moment and think about the times you have taken on a burden with no reward those times are far and few in between. Can you imagine deciding to work for someone for free? No financial compensation, no acknowledgment and no compassion? I imagine most individuals would not complete or even begin that job because you will not have a desire to achieve, you would not have the ability to look after yourself or your family, your entire life would be dictated by that person. I hear it every day, voiced by people on social media and in person, they do not want to do it for free. They do not want to do free PR, free acting, free designing, anything for free, especially just for marketing their name. I do not blame them. The pro bono work I do is exhausting and directly impacts my family (both negatively and positively) with regards to what I can offer my family. However, I do believe we all need to give back to our communities but our misplaced an ideology of equality has thwarted this.

In the name of equality, our society has born a strong sense of entitlement. This worries me. There cannot be results without the input. You cannot simply just become a doctor. It takes years of studying and hard work. Nevermind, paying for the degree (imagine the student loan).Nobody would want to study to become a doctor if the rewards were the same as an individual who has spent their life on the sofa. As much as I am ambivalent in acknowledging it, Capitalism, in its own way, has its place. There is a sense of reward, a goal to work towards. Albeit, it only financial or is it? Does being successful in the world only have financial benefits? No, this means money to support your family, money to employ people, money for entrepreneurs, money to build society. My strongest belief is that if you put the work in you deserve the rewards. We are not entitled to everything. If we are given everything where does the motivation lie? Eventually, we would all lie back and chill. Then where would the financial support come from to support society? You cannot believe that the solution is to take from others to give to others. The idea is to promote the whole of society not bring down parts of it so that everyone can be equal because if you take enough, those who were successful will stop giving and stop working. Thereby, bring everyone down and raising no one.

Children are not entitled but they are our responsibility. That responsibility starts with parents. Society is not here to raise our children, they are here to be a support system, a community. It is unfair to teach your child they are entitled. Children should be taught they are a part of a community, they have a role, a responsibility unique to them. How will they raise their own children if they live off a sense of entitlement? Who will teach their children values, about striving towards a better world, about working towards their goals? We already have a substantial part of society where parents neglect and abuse their children. This is growing every day but we choose to ignore it. The truth is we are growing a sense of entitlement within society. These individuals feel entitled to someone else raising their child financially, emotionally, cognitively and physically. They feel that everything will be given to their children and them. And we expect that it will just be fixed, that those children will be given equality. Will they? Where is it expected to come from? Do other children lose out? Do we take a child out of private school? Do we decrease their education in the name of equality? As do, we aim to give everyone a better education?

We cannot change the world and being a keyboard warrior does not solve anything. If you see a problem take action. I am not just writing this, my practice is to do this daily. I believe we can go back to teaching our children responsibility that nothing will be handed out that they will have to work. If they want to go to university they will have to study, they will have to get the grades and if there aren't the finances this is where society steps in with scholarships for those children who deserve it.

An example of true equality is when a child from an underprivileged background works hard and beat the odds (with the support of the community) BUT then they go back and they give back to their community. A simple gesture spending time tutoring learners, giving books to the school library or being an inspiration to future generations by spending time with them. This shows children that you work and you take responsibility. If everyone worked, if everyone supported those who did work and put in the effort and in turn those individuals took the time to give back when they became a success that is when you will see true equality. The upliftment of hardworking individuals leads to the upliftment of more. We do not need to take from others and breed entitlement.

Every child (including my daughter) who walks through my door is taught pride in their work, to take responsibility and to be respectful. Their self-esteem and confidence have increased. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a child blossom. One of my aims is to teach children the beauty of who they are and how to apply it to become a success in their lives (according to what they believe is a success not what I believe). My experience has taught me that children with entitlement blame others do not work and do not respect others. Sadly, this affects them as their self-belief and determination is not present and without these how is a child supposed to strive towards something and be given ‘equal opportunity’?

How we raise our children determines many of the equal opportunities they will be given. By raising our children with a sense of responsibility, a passion for diligence and a love for the respect they will then rise in society. Teach them values, teach them hard work, teach them to achieve and teach them that what they put in is what they will receive. Teach them that entitlement is not equality, teach them equal opportunity should be given when due and that responsibility starts with them as the individual.