Monday, July 27, 2009

Teach children to stand on their own two feet

MY friend’s son had just got a taste of “hardship”.

Like many 18-year-olds who left school after getting their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia results early this year, he had wanted to continue his studies full-time.

But circumstances were such t h at he had to work and study part-time.

In an agreement with his employers, he had to work with them and in return, they would pay for his studies and provide him with an allowance.

He had to work on weekdays and study on weekends.

With the exception of semester breaks, his life would revolve around work and college, and what little thatwas left in the daywas divided between sleep and homewo r k .

On the other hand, most of his fr iends’ college expenses were taken care of either by their parents or scholar ships.

During weekends, they got to do fun things like going for movies, shopping or clubbing, instead of attending classes.

My friend’s son had asked if teenagers during my time had faced similar situation and how they had coped.

I told him that compared to the teenagers then, he was luckier.

And compared to his peers now, he is even more fortunate.

His employer had not only given him a job but had also invested in his future.

Not many employers can afford to do that in tough times.

They must have seen potential in him.

During my time, most teenagers were independent.

Many started earning their keep early in life, sometimes after school and even dur ing the school holidays.

Those who realised that they were we a k in their studies parted company with school early to learn a trade or two.

Some joined the school of hard knocks as early as 15, working as apprentices at tailoring shops, motor workshops, furniture factories, and anywhere else that would employ them.

To them, to be able to work was a privilege and they excelled at their trade.

Most of the time, choices were made out of necessity.

Rather than be at the mercy of charity, many teenagers back then chose to earn money for their own upkeep — e ve n if it meant toiling from sun up till sun down in grimy workplaces.

Some went on to achieve great things in life, others continued to earn a decent living without being a burden to their families or society.

While we seek to give the best to our children, we should also encourage them to work and learn to be independent.

At the very least, it keeps them away from mischief if they are busy earning a living.

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