Sat | Sep 26, 2020

Norman Horne, on the business of parenting

Published:Tuesday | July 3, 2018 | 12:00 AM

"It really does not matter how much advice you give your children, they will still end up doing whatever they want to do."

This is what led Norman Horne, executive chairman of ARC Manufacturing Limited, to understand that parents would have to set an example through their own lives for their children to learn from.

"Over the years, I have heard my children say and do things that reminded me so much of myself," said Horne, a father of seven. "It has made me realise just how much children emulate their parents, and the tremendous responsibility this gives me as a father."

Horne also spoke about the importance of trust between parents and children.

"When you realise just how much trust your children put in you, it forces you to be better and work harder to meet their expectations," Horne noted. "I get this feeling each time I am teaching one of my children how to swim, ride a bicycle, or even drive, and that is why I have made it a priority to be there for them in these formative years.




Growing up with 10 siblings in Junction, St Elizabeth, Horne recounts some of the earliest lessons he learnt from his own parents.

"My father was a teacher of English, and he required us to be very specific and deliberate in everything that we did and said," Horne reflected. "He drilled this into us at every chance he got: 'say and do exactly what you mean'. Then one day when I was about 14 years old, I was driving home with my father when the car broke down about two and a half miles from the house. My father instructed me to go up to the house to see if the jack was there, and that is exactly what I did."

He continued, "I begged a ride up to the house, found the jack and went back to my father and reported, 'Yes, Dad, the jack is at the house', knowing that I had finally managed to flip the script on him."

His reward was a bellyful of laughter from his late father, who recognised that this time, the student had become the teacher. Of course, young Norman still had to return to the house to collect the jack, but neither father nor son would ever forget the significance of that exchange.

Another important lesson for Horne came from his mother, a dressmaker, farmer and one of the first 'economists' he had ever encountered.

"We were very poor but my mother ran a tight household, and I learnt many management skills from that," said Horne. Their home, for instance, had to be 'spic and span', and everyone had to contribute to the household.

"Whether it was collecting water at the standpipe, minding the animals or the crops, we all had to contribute to the economy of our home. This is something that I teach my own kids to this very day, because everyone has to eventually manage their own economy."

To this end, Horne lives by a guiding principle - whatever he produces must be more than what he consumes, and the surplus must be invested to achieve growth. Simple economics, he says, should be a fundamental aspect of every child's education.

"As parents, our job is to help develop our children into socially and economically independent people," said Horne. "This is how we ensure their survival and success, and it is the most important gift and tool that we can give to them."