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Encourage children to dream big

As a child, I had a lot of big dreams. I dreamed of becoming an air hostess, the best ballerina in the world, a space engineer, etc.

I believed anything and everything was possible. Most of our childhood dreams were very big, limitless, boundless and imaginative. As we grew up, however, they were re-sized, re-shaped and shelved due to multiple experiences. Now the tables have turned, and we see that same free spirit in our children.

Our role as parents, inspirers and role models is to raise children who value the importance of following their big dreams. I have listened to countless sermons about challenging ourselves to dream big, but none has inspired me like the story my pastor shared a few weeks ago.

He recounted the story of Walt Disney and his dream of building Disney World in California. He would take his daughters to a nearby park on Saturdays, and give his wife some time to rest. (I hope husbands could learn from this and support their wives more).

Disney was troubled with the fact that there was not much to do with children on a Saturday afternoon. From this observation, a great empire was born. It is amazing how sustainable enterprises are those that emerge out of the need to solve a problem. That is a subject for another day.

Growing up, many of us were encouraged to just be good children, study hard, get a job and live happily thereafter. I don’t remember being encouraged to become a problem solver.

Recently, I read with holy envy the story of the 30-year-old entrepreneur Maxima Nsimenta – the CEO and founder of a growing cosmetic line Livara. She shares how her dream was nurtured by, among others, her grandmother, a renowned businesswoman. Without digging deep, it is easy to conclude that her big dreams were nurtured by an enabling environment.

It is not a question of nature verses nurture. Her big dreams were clearly motivated by those around her. It looks like we have to become role models to our children. We also have to be intentional about our circle of influence.

Beyond ourselves, we have to create opportunities for our children to learn from other current and past big dreamers. We have to expose our children to the stories of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mother Tereza, among others.

Our very own Phiona Mutesi’s story that is aptly captured in Queen of Katwe speaks volumes. Such inspirational dreamers help teach children that anything is possible – no matter the obstacle.

In a time when children are seemingly growing up very fast, it is essential to consider the importance of their childhood dreams. Fostering an environment in which their dreams are valued will help them carry on that free spirit and youthful passion into adulthood – and the world just may become a better place. If nothing else, their world certainly will.

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