HOW BIG IS YOUR CHILD'S DREAM?

On October 9, 2012 a teenaged girl in Pakistan, Malala Yousufzai, was brutally shot by members of the Taliban on her bus ride home from school. Her initial prognosis was not good, yet today she is thriving - walking, reading, and writing. While she still has more medical procedures ahead, the doctors believe she should recover without major neurological damage. 

What possible reason could the Taliban have for wanting her dead? They are threatened by her dream that girls receive an equal education to that of boys and her outspoken advocacy for it. She launched herself into the international spotlight a few years ago, at the age of 11, with her blog about girls and education. She has shown unabashed passion and courage, notwithstanding the threats against her life over the years. Even in the face of her attack, she has expressed that her intent is to continue her unwavering advocacy for education. In fact, she is so dedicated to her own school work that, according to CNN, she has already resumed studying for her exams, even as she recovers. The international community has embraced her as a champion, even naming Saturday, November 10th "Malala Day" to honor her dream. (http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/10/world/asia/pakistan-malala-one-month/index.html?hpt=hp_bn2)

et's reflect on what parents in the New Spirituality can learn from such a tenacious, brave young girl. I believe her strength and passion, the very same ones that made her a target of the Taliban, are helping her to make this miraculous recovery.  Your child may or may not be fighting for the right to education or to recover from a life-threatening injury; but the lessons we can, collectively, learn from Malala can be applied to many situations. 

One of the core concepts of Conversations with God says "the purpose of your life is to recreate yourself anew in the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever you held about Who You Are." What this concept means to me, within the scope of parenting, is that children who are encouraged to think for themselves by their parents, whose spirits are nurtured, rather than stifled, can lead very fulfilling lives of passion and can become agents of great change! If Malala's parents had discouraged her passion, the entire world might not be engaged, right now, in this important conversation about equal education. 

It is tragic that chasing her dream caused her to be a target of hatred and violence, but how amazing it it that she has still chosen to be an agent of conversation and change! In the New Spirituality, it is incomprehensible that violence is used to handle disagreements in the modern world; and further, it seems extreme that it took such a terrible act of violence against a child to draw attention to the plight of education. But all it takes to begin change is a dream…an idea…a person brave enough to stand for something. Malala is a beacon of hope and a steward of dreams!

have wondered, in light of her attack, if her parents regret that they "allowed" her to be so outspoken; but I think her father's speaking on her behalf about her continued passion shows that they do not. Or at least they appear to understand that this is something she feels compelled to do and that trying to stop her would be futile; that her advocacy is part of her purpose to recreate herself anew in the next grandest version of herself. 

You may wish to think about Malala the next time your child has a seemingly crazy idea in which he says he will invent healthful, non-toxic food that is inexpensive to produce, plentiful enough to feed the world, and easy to share. Or the next time she says she can invent cars that can be given away for free and use no gas. He or she may be just the one to accomplish it! How parents react to their children's aspirations and solutions to life's problems, no matter how outlandish or impossible they may seem can directly affect how "big" the child feels it is ok to dream. How big children feel allowed to dream can directly affect how society progresses. 

ow big do you wish for your child to dream?

Originally printed on The Global Conversation Online Newspaper, (2013). All Rights Reserved.