Review: Future-proof your child for the 2020s and beyond by Nikki Bush and Graeme Codrington

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Future-proof your child for the 2020s and beyond
Nikki Bush and Graeme Codrington
Publisher: Penguin 
ISBN: 9781776094530

Readers are advised that this publication is "a revised and updated edition of Future-proof your child: Parenting the wired generation, a bestselling title for the past 10 years for parents of children up to the age of 12". When the latter was published, "it was a ground-breaking book, combining the art and science of futurism with the art and science of parenting ... and focused on globalisation, megatrends and predictions about the future" (1). This newly revised edition, Future-proof your child for the 2020s and beyond, takes into account "a decade of short-form journalism, tweets and memes" that have necessitated the repackaging of the content to make it "shorter, smarter, more accessible and easier to read" (2).

The book has been available on shelves since August 2019, and the key aim of this sterling revised publication, which is extremely relevant in these times, is to "help our children achieve relevance and growth in a world of continuous disruptive change" (2). The book "outlines that changing world and the X-factors our children will have to develop – beyond a report card from school – to make sure they are future-fit" (3). "Whether you are excited or scared by the future, this is our world, our new normal" (7). This practical, accessible and, yes, inspirational book aspires a) to give parents "a glimpse of the big picture – the Age of Possibility – so that you can understand the backdrop against which you are parenting today", b) "to equip you to be an effective parent of young children, today" and c) "to help you to understand the future and what it holds as our children grow up" (6).

The authors, Nikki Bush and Graeme Codrington, have children of their own and draw a lot on their own experiences and those of others. They stress that "as parents ourselves who are future-proofing our own children for a world that is increasingly starting to resemble a sci-fi movie, we want to assure you that family, and keeping the human in the middle, is at the heart of all we do" (3). Parents are urged to "act wisely and courageously early on in their children’s lives to ensure that they are resilient and emerge with a consistent world view" (4).

It is a sobering thought that parents these days only have about two to three hours of parenting hours a day! Some of the very apt questions asked in this book are: "How do we, as parents, compete with the noise and excitement of 24-hour attention-grabbing screens?", "How do we engage our techno-savvy, immediate-gratification-craving, low-attention-span children?", "What jobs will be available for our children? And what jobs won’t exist anymore?", "How will robots and automation change the world of work and the jobs available in the future?" and "What moral issues will my child face down the line?" The authors recommend "(literally) hundreds of activities, ideas and suggestions for you to do with your children" (5) to prepare them for success in the world of the 2030s and beyond. The parenting advice is grounded on "evidence-based child-development practice" and focuses on raising "kids with our hearts as well as our heads" (16).

Bush, whose husband tragically died in 2017 in Johannesburg during an armed robbery in their home, stresses that "disruption doesn’t just happen ‘out there’. It’s not just about being driven by information technology or biotechnology, robots or artificial intelligence. Disruption happens all the time, in our homes and in our families as individuals grow up and change (even adults), and as family structures are altered due to death, divorce, remarriage, blended families, special-needs children, financial and work pressure, and more" (11). She feels strongly that "parents and children continually need to reinvent, adapt and adopt to remain relevant and to thrive in this fast-changing world" (10).

I could not put this book down. The authors deserve applause for creating riveting content that is highly applicable, very informative and certainly practical to implement. The writing is clear, concise and very much to the point. I experienced a sense of déjà vu when I opened the book at Chapter 1, chillingly titled, "Wake up, the world has changed!" – for is that thought not uppermost in our minds today? I agree with Michael Grose’s suggestion in the foreword to read Future-proof your child for the 2020s and beyond twice. "Read it through the first time as quickly as you can. Then read it a second time using a highlighter to mark actionable steps and discussion points you pick up along the way. This is definitely a book to mull over and revisit time and again." Groce, a parenting educator and speaker, is the author of 11 parenting books.

The titles of the remaining chapters – there are nine altogether – are: "How your child develops", "Trends that will change your child’s future", "Jobs of the future", "Developing X-factors for success in our children", "What can school do for your child?", "Building a Talent Profile", "Build a values-based family brand" and "A call to action".

Future-proof your child for the 2020s and beyond is largely intended for those involved in raising children from birth to 12 years. I consider it an invaluable guide to equip children with the right skill sets, attitudes and world views to enable them to identify future opportunities and thrive, no matter what tomorrow may or may not hold. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who has children or who works with them. In the words of the late Nelson Mandela, "There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children."

About the authors

Nikki Bush is a well-known author and media personality. She is a sought-after international speaker on parenting and child development, and her opinion is highly respected and trusted. Her bestselling titles include Future-proof your child: Parenting the wired generation (with Codrington), Easy answers to awkward questions and tech-savvy parenting.

Graeme Codrington focuses on the future of work as a futurist and strategy consultant. Having worked in nearly 100 countries, he has helped some of the globe’s largest companies and best business schools prepare for tomorrows world today. His bestselling titles include Future-proof your child: Parenting the wired generation (with Bush), Mind the gap and Leading in a changing world.

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