Parents should nurture their children’s gifts and talents from a tender age.
By Harrison Otieno
Have you ever felt that if your gift was nurtured from a young age you would have been in a different space in life? Probably a thousand times. You keep regretting and being bitter for those responsible for you when you were young, your parents most likely. Sometimes the bitterness and regret turn into anger and resentment. You may end up hating them. You are not alone. Such is the situation for many young people in Kenya today. Donald is 18 years old and has just finished high school. He loves art and football. He spent a lot of time drawing while he was in high school. He stopped because his mother discouraged him. She thought he wouldn’t concentrate on his studies if he spent too much time drawing. He never drew since. This has messed him psychologically because he has lost touch with drawing, something he used to love. He says that drawing requires consistency for it to remain alive. Once you quit regaining the skill is a nerve-racking process. His love for football began much earlier than drawing. In primary school, he was already in a local football club in their home area in Kayole. Their team performed so well and they were sponsored to travel to Germany. His mom however refused to let him go because she feared that she might lose him in Germany. Another time he came home late from training and his mom was furious. She banned him from playing football so he had to quit. He had a good relationship with his coach who wondered why a kid as talented as him would quit. According to him, his mom interfered with his bright future twice. It is a pain he has to bear for the rest of his life. Due to this, he is not on good terms with his mother. Chris, age 21, also loves drawing and football. Like Donald, he also quit because his dad discouraged him from drawing while he was in high school, at form two. Whenever his dad found him drawing, he would tell him to focus on his studies and stop drawing silly things. That particular statement hurt him so he quit drawing for good. Upon completing high school he burnt his drawing books and the memories with them. Chris is currently a journalism and digital media student and he regrets quitting drawing. He realized that drawing is creative and invaluable as an added skill in journalism. However, he has refused to give up on his gift and always tries to draw to recover his skill. Though it is not as good as it used to be, he is hopeful he’ll get there. For football, his mother discouraged him since he joined high school. He however could not let it go because he played football since he was a kid. His mother took it as disobedience and rebellion and caned him every time he came home after playing. He could not keep up with the abuse and he quit. He however went back to playing football after finishing high school. He used to accompany his friend for training in their team. Trying to revive his skills, he still feels that his football isn’t as good as it used to be when he was young. What pains him more is that some of his football childhood playmates play better now and even signed in to football clubs. He envies them because their parents supported them while his discouraged him. Donald, Chris, and many other young people feel that they would be in a different space in life if their gifts were nurtured from a young age or if they were not interfered with. This is a calling to all parents and guardians to not only focus on their children's education but also help them nurture their gifts, as they are influential in paving the way for a fruitful and successful life. Parents should also be supportive of their children and not ban them from exploiting their gifts as it has a long-lasting psychological effect on them.