Children need to be made to know that education comprises of more than just academic learning, as the skills learnt on the sports field and playground are as invaluable as those learnt in the classroom. Interpersonal skills are essential, and relationships add the richest dimensions to life. Children should be encourage to get involved in activities.


At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents. – Jane D. Hull

Parenting is a lot different from what we expected it to be (for generation X or Y) and what it used to be. We are raising our children in a world totally different from the one we knew as children. These children will be adults in a world that is rapidly evolving.

Hence, there is the need to explore the peculiar challenges implicit in parenting a 21st century child and discovering tips on how to navigate parenting.

It is much easier to become a parent than to actually be a parent. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint, and one would have to be in it for the long haul. It could last as long as 21 years or longer, depending on the number of children one decides to have and the gaps between them.

Parenting in the 21st century requires thinking outside the box. The world is changing, and we are on uncharted waters. Staying balanced and being open-minded would help in building priceless progeny and instilling character in them as they grow.

I have found that parenting can be divided into four major roles. Clarity about these roles and working my way around them guides my journey daily.

Teacher: Immediately you become a parent, it’s hold your horses; where does the time fly to? Parenting moves at a remarkably fast pace. One minute they are little ones who you carry everywhere, and the next minute, they are tall, frowning beings who have minds of their own. The first five years are the bedrock of their brain development. For the most part, the parent is the primary educator, who they learn from directly and indirectly. Approximately 80 per cent of the brain is developed by the age of five, with the core values set and the emotional baseline established for life. Ensuring that solid foundations like love, security and discipline are firmly built will help make the child’s life better.

Our children will be adults in a completely alien world from the one we know. Our challenge is to engage with the way the world is changing, while retaining some of the solid “old-fashioned” ideas that still work, but keeping abreast of the skills the child needs to prosper in the future.

Coach: When children are between the ages of 7 and 14, their characters gets formed. Their mindset becomes clearly defined and it is critical at this juncture to teach them to take some responsibility for their lives. Even though one would be a facilitator walking them through the decisions and consequences of the decisions they make. The focus at this point should be on encouraging and grooming their minds. Recalling that coaching is a two way street, parents too will learn and grow as they teach the children. The key thing is to hold them accountable, and not to jump to fix their problems automatically. Things don’t always work out the way we want in life and the sooner they learn to deal with failure, the better it will be for them. Parents should soothe the children through pain, while encouraging them to be resilient.

Children need to be made to know that education comprises of more than just academic learning, as the skills learnt on the sports field and playground are as invaluable as those learnt in the classroom. Interpersonal skills are essential, and relationships add the richest dimensions to life. Children should be encourage to get involved in activities.

Also, parents need to work on inculcating financial literacy skills in their children. Managing pocket money, learning entrepreneurship and understanding the benefits of delayed gratification are all ways by which we create future-ready children.

Mentor: By the time they are 15 to 16, their friends become the centres of their lives and the bonds they have with their parents become tested. The parental role transitions to that of being a mentor. This is when they begin to establish their own identities, and parents should stick with advising and guiding them than dictating to them on how they should live or instructing them on who they should be. We can’t understand what it feels like to be children in this constantly evolving world; they need space to grow and establish their own courses for their lives. This time should be a wonderful time as a parent; one gets to see them bloom and become individuals in their own right, who will be deal with life squarely in the 21st century. The firmer the foundation from childhood are, the easier the teenage phase will be.

Cheerleader: Once they are at age 21, they should be independent people who have discovered themselves. It is time to move to the sidelines and cheer them on as they run the race of life. Parents should observe them as they move on in a world that is different from what they are used to or that they expected. Above all, one needs to realise that it is a privilege and honour to be a parent: It stretches, brings great joy and our legacy lives on beyond us. Parents should revel in the journey, learn along with them and then sit back to enjoy the rewards of your hard work.

Adetola Salau, Carismalife4U@gmail.com, an advocate of STEM education, public speaker, author, and social entrepreneur, is passionate about education reform.