The Greatest Love of All | Preparing our children for the future

school-kids-isbi-imageOften the greatest gifts we can give don’t come wrapped in packages and tied with bows. In 1977, George Benson recorded a song entitled “The Greatest Love of All.” This inspiring ballad, later recorded by Whitney Houston, provides a beautiful, yet cliché image of the role children play in the future of our communities and personal lives. Love it or hate it, this song rings true: “Our children are the future. Teach them well, and let them lead the way.” Our children will one day be responsible for our government, our school systems and our personal affairs.

One evening, this song played in my head as I sat in front of my television, listening to a beautiful young lady share some of her life experience with pre-teen girls. Her parents are strong pillars in the community, both holding PhD degrees and working successfully in their chosen career fields. My thought was, “This is great—they are passing the torch to the next generation.” There I was, excited, warm in my loungewear, chamomile tea in hand, ready to applaud. She began to speak, and my mouth dropped open—I could not believe what I was hearing. This beautiful, witty and lovable young lady, who was raised by two intellects, was unable to articulate her story clearly. This was more than stage fright; it was a lack of command of the English language.

Upon further research, I learned that she is very bright, but was not challenged in school. Although both of her parents have post-graduate degrees, she did not attend college. What happened here? This family will leave her an inheritance of money, property and businesses, but what about an intellectual inheritance? Will she be able to manage everything her parents are lovingly building for her? Our children are the future, and they must have an intellectual inheritance to run the race successfully with the baton we pass on to them.

Leaving an intellectual inheritance to your children begins with establishing a truth for your household. This truth is: “Education is important and required for this family.” You must create a home climate that fosters the message that learning and school are powerful tools that help enhance the raw talents that reside on the inside of us all. The message must include the premise that grades K-12 are just the beginning of a lifelong learning journey. Lifelong learning does not necessarily mean that all individuals should pursue bachelors, masters, or PhD degrees. They should dedicate themselves always to getting better and becoming the best version of themselves, both inwardly and outwardly. We all need to push to be our best.

As you prepare for the holiday season and giving gifts, consider giving your children and those under your care something timeless and invaluable. Give your children permission to be their very best by encouraging them to never stop learning. The holiday season is a great time to tell the family (or community) stories of people who have used education to springboard to better lives. This is the time to fortify your intellectual legacy in your children.