Our children are like blank canvasses awaiting our masterful strokes.

HAVE you come across a very inspiring story about how most people view things that happen in their lives? It was beautifully told using a dot on a white paper. It went something like this:

One day, a professor entered the classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They all waited anxiously at their desks for the exam to begin. The professor handed out the exam papers with the text facing down, as usual. Once he had handed them all out, he asked the students to turn over the sheets. To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions — just a black dot in the centre of the blank piece of paper.

The professor, seeing the expression on everyone’s faces, told them the following: “I want you to write about what you see there.” The students, confused, got started on the inexplicable task. At the end of the class, the professor took back the papers and started reading each one of them out loud, in front of all the students. All of them, with no exceptions, pointed out the black dot and tried to explain its position at the centre of the sheet.

After he had read out all the papers, the classroom fell silent. The professor then started to explain: “I’m not going to grade you on this. I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot ­— and the same happens in our lives. We have a piece of paper to observe and enjoy, but we are always focusing on the dark spots. Our life is a gift, and there are so many reasons to celebrate — nature renewing itself daily, friends around us, the job that provides our livelihood, and many more.”


In a way, this story reminds me about how we view our children as well. Children are a gift from heaven and delivered to us pure and clean, very much like that white part of the paper. Many of us also believe that children are like blank canvasses while parents are the artists.

However, sometimes, the white part can be stained with unwanted black dots. This comes in many forms such as misbehaviour, poor academic performance or the general lack of drive on their part. But if we are like anything the students in the story, these will be all that we see. We will be too focused on the dots rather than the huge potential waiting to be tapped.

There is so much more to be grateful for if we look deep within our children. Their helpful behaviour, their humour, cheerfulness, and kindness are just some examples. Chances are, our kids are already trying their best to please us. Unfortunately, many times their efforts go unnoticed. But when they make one slight mistake, we are too quick to yell at them.

It’s time we adopt a new perspective. Let’s look at the white part of their lives and try to find the answers there. When we do, we will be ready to paint our masterpieces. We all can be artists. The brushes are in our hands and the white canvasses are awaiting our masterful strokes. We owe it to our children to turn them into the magnificent masterpieces of the world.

Zaid Mohamad coaches and trains parents to experience happier homes and more productive workplaces. Reach him at zaid@smartparents.com.my

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