Empowering kids is helping them find the answer

Senior Constable Karren Bye, of Mosgiel.


In this article I want to talk about the difference between enabling and empowering when parenting and the empowering when parenting and the effects each approach can have on our children’s lives.

I am dealing increasingly with “Gen Z”,  teens and young adults having committed crimes.

In this generation – people born from 1995-2015 (after Millennials) – I am seeing less resilience and more entitlement.

I want to stress, that this is in general terms and certainly not applicable to all parents and children.

I do not have any formal training in this field. The content of this article is based on my own experiences.

Instead of enabling a child, I feel it is important that we empower them.

We must teach them how to do rather than how to ask.

For example, when a child asks how to spell a word, I, like many, have been guilty of spelling it out for my children, rather than asking them to sound it out.

Empowering them is helping them find the answer, not providing one.

The parents who have empowered their children have allowed them to fail, but have been there to inspire the children to pick themselves up, which is ironically a trait of leadership.

Failure is not just part of life, it is essential to life and success.

Henry Ford put it most eloquently “failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently”.

We talk about spending time with our children, but there is a difference between vague interaction and engaging with them.

I could say I’ve spent time with my child by watching a movie, but this doesn’t compare to time spent talking while we walk along the beach, throwing a ball or baking together.

Quality time doesn’t need to be expensive, and when it is we need to ensure our young people have an appreciation of money and how important it is to develop a strong work ethic.

There are some parents, again, I am generalising, who protect and compensate for their child and the child’s behaviour.

We know how hard and cold the real world can be, so we try to protect them for as long as possible, but this, in turn, also only enables them to remain enveloped in bubble wrap instead of learning to take responsibility.

As the child nears early adult years, having learnt resilience and independence, they leave their family home equipped and able to deal with the peaks and troughs adults face in life.

They learn that life is hard and there are some not very nice people out there.

They are the young adults who have had to work to achieve their goals and learn to stand on their own two feet and live independently.

There are also the fiscally driven parents.

If a child grows up having never had to work or save up to pay for what they want, they have no appreciation or respect of money and how important it is to develop a work ethic and eventually become independent. Enabling them, for example, could be to buy their first car, empowering them could be to contribute towards it.

The relevance of this and what I experience within the community are young adults who don’t have these skills, which can lead to future problems and involvement with police. Food for thought. Have a great week.