Roman Emperor Nero once wrote that "hidden talent counts for nothing". And that's why the subject of tapping into untapped potential in children is so fascinating to media specialist Dr Terri-Karelle Reid, one of two Jamaicans who will speak at TEDx Aston University next month.
The other speaker will be businessman Zachary Harding.
The theme of the event is 'Untapped' and Reid will be speaking on "The untapped potential in raising children holistically" on September 25 at the university in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
"The overall theme for all speakers is 'Untapped', looking at how the world has been, how people have had to dig deep, try things that are very different...adapt, adjust,” she told Observer Online, adding “A lot of us have had to tap into different aspects of our lives in order to survive and even thrive in one of the darkest periods of our lives.
"When I was approached (by TEDx), I thought they were approaching me because of my ability to move from veterinary medicine and branch off into media and other areas but when they asked me to focus on my parenting style, I was blown away by it," Reid said.
A mother of a nine-year-old girl, Reid realised early that she had an awesome responsibility to tap into her own potential as a parent "in order to be the mom that my daughter needs to be".
Reid believes that parents need to 'untap' their own potential as parents so they can discover and nurture hidden talents on their own offspring, and not just the run-of-the-mill skills like academics or sports, but deeper, more spiritual, holistic connections that teach kids how to navigate this 'Brave New World'.
She theorises that 'emotional intelligence' is an important quality for parents to cultivate in their children.
"We tend to want to tap in our children academically, we believe if they ace tests, get scholarships and are the brightest in their class, then you're tapping into their potential, or if they're able to do a sport, and be the top in their sport, we have tapped into their true potential," she mused.
"But for me, where do we intentionally look to parent our children when it comes to things like empathy, self-awareness, body positivity, where are those attributes in the conversation? I have had conversations with my daughter since she was three, but we have conversations about body parts, menstruation, feminine products, to the point where she is comfortable with those conversations. When do we reach that point as parents when untapping potential is more than just academics or being good at a particular sport? How do we grow and nurture and train them to be great citizens of the world?" she said.
Potential is not a zero sum game.
"We fail as parents if we don't stop comparing our children to other children, make them be and do things they are not interested in and have no natural inclination towards, but instead prepare them for real life," she said.
In closing, she downplayed the importance of her own personal parenting experiences, and instead urges parents to use the opportunity to have important conversations about how to raise their children holistically so they can successfully navigate a challenging ever-changing world.
"I don't want parents to feel that this is the blueprint, it is sowing a seed especially for us in the Caribbean to consider new things and confront conversations that need to be had much earlier if our children are to understand how to navigate the world and society," Reid said.
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