Your background doesn’t have to define your success

Published 26 Aug 2020

This blog is currently being written on an Apple MacBook. It’s also being written on the day that it has been announced that Apple is now worth just short of $2trillion. That’s not a huge surprise given the popularity of the company’s products, but how about if we added that the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, grew up in foster care for a part of his life? Steve Jobs spent his early life being fostered by the people who eventually adopted him and who he called his parents. Actually, the list of successful celebrities who have been a part of the foster system is eye opening and includes Nelson Mandela, who was fostered by the Chief of his tribe at the age of 9, actor Neil Morrisey, who ended up in foster care when he was 10, and John Lennon, who was fostered by his aunt and uncle.

define your success

If these amazing individuals prove nothing else it’s that a nurturing and caring environment where successes are celebrated and acknowledged can provide a sense of self-worth in children and young people who may have started out in challenging family situations. Looking back to the story of Steve Jobs, it’s evident that his adoptive parents did everything they could to nurture his interests. In his autobiography he wrote “Knowing I was adopted made me feel independent, but I never felt abandoned. I’ve always felt special. My parents made me feel special.”

While past experiences can definitely help to form a person, it isn’t the definition of the person. Love, care, and a celebration of every milestone and achievement can foster ambitions and expectations that enable a young person to fully achieve their true potential. For many young people entering the foster system, they may never have had any of their achievements celebrated. Each and every one of us is different, and our challenges are unique to us so, passing a milestone should be recognised and rewarded. For some, it could be getting a top grade in a subject at school, for others it could be sleeping through the night without the light on. One individual’s achievement will always be different to another person’s. While many of us will never reach the dizzying financial and technical successes of Steve Jobs, we should still celebrate each and every success.

For some readers this summer will be one of GCSE and A-Level results, hopefully with celebrations, and the inevitability that children who live with you will soon fly the nest for their next adventure at university. There will undoubtedly be a scroll through their milestones; the first and last days at school; first steps; the first gappy smile; prom photos with their first date; the time they managed to eat a whole ice cream without covering themselves in it (and the time they didn’t). This is, in fact, also a milestone for you as parents or carers. A moment where you can celebrate that you’ve helped to build a young adult and have prepared them for a route to independent living.

It could also be the moment that you decide that you’d like to help another child and young person to begin the nurtured journey towards achieving their true potential, using the skills that you’ve honed over many years of parenthood. After all, you never know, you could be helping the next Steve Jobs or Nelson Mandela.

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