Over the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking a lot about foundations. Because of my work in the construction industry, I understand the critical role foundation plays.

Many factors come to play in the selection of the type of foundation some are; the bearing capacity (strength) of the soil on which the building will rest, the amount of water the soil retains, the load from the building and the area of the building will occupy. The factors to consider increases with an increase in the height of the building.

Foundations are fundamental; they are one of the major determinants of whether or not a building will stand tall or eventually fall. Also, foundations are one of the most challenging parts of construction to correct, but it is fixable.

Our home of origin and the environment we grew up in form our foundations in almost every area of life. Be it in our relationship with money, our image of a family and the roles of its members, spirituality, values and beliefs, preferred career path, how we relate with people and the world in general.

Every one of us has one thing or the other from our foundation that we seek or are correcting and yet again, nature has blessed us with the opportunity of helping to create the foundation for the next generation.

Sometimes this may feel like an overwhelming task; we may have concerns as to the quality of life our children would have. We desire a better quality of life for them than the one we have. We wish, pray and make conscious efforts not to pass on some of the dysfunction in which we grew up; a very noble goal indeed.

Three things to remember as we work at this goal;

First of all, is that we must work at this goal from a place of love. Love provides a safe and secure environment for the achievement of the goals we have in parenting. Quite often, it is easy to slip into fear (the opposite of love) in our pursuit or desire to make our children become ‘better’.

I young lady narrated her story to us in a meeting of how she battled with promiscuity for years. It all started with her mother’s desire to ensure she remained chaste. As a secondary school student, every time she came back home, her mother would do a physical inspection to ensure she was still a virgin. This act, instead of desensitising her about sex made her more curious.

The mother’s desire though noble was taken over by fear, instead of building trust, having open conversations on the subject, her actions drove a wedge in their relationship and ultimately sent the girl in the direction she was trying so hard to avoid.

Another example is of a man who as a boy was never allowed to go out unaccompanied, the parents always told him it was their job to keep him safe and that the world was a dangerous place. As a full-grown adult, he finds it difficult to have deep and meaningful relationships as he is suspicious of everyone friendly to him.

The second is to work more on yourself, not on the child: ‘Your actions are so loud that I can’t hear what you are saying’, is a familiar saying. Most of what we learnt from our parents were not taught to us by instruction; we learnt them by observation. Our children will also learn from us by watching. As we focus on our growth and become better versions of ourselves, our kids learn.

There are things we will need to teach by instruction, but the work is a lot easy if they can see us as living examples. A child will not learn to be honest if they see their parents lie to them or others no matter the punishment for lying.

Finally, I would say trust; trust that the Creator knew you and your capacity before entrusting these beautiful souls to you. Children are incredibly resilient if you doubt take a look at yourself – You turned out okay.

It is not to make us passive at our jobs as parents; we do our best and then trust the wisdom of the Creator to have chosen us. It takes the edge off.

Nancy Oblete

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