We go through our daily tasks, kids centered around our activities, their meal times, their play time, nap time and hoards of other ‘times’. But don’t we often think, what is this world coming to? Where has humanity run off too? Where is compassion and where is empathy? We read the news, when does it ever lift your spirits? There is literally only misery.
We send our children to the best schools we can, provide them with as much comfort as we can. But what are we truly imparting as our legacy onto them? Are we doing something wrong? Is this the way we want them to perceive the world? Are we to equip them and mould them into adults who in fact contribute towards this lawless indifferent society?
I am no idealist, nor am I naive. The world is what it is, yet I feel if we can all work together and teach our children the true values of decency, of morality, of the value of truth and respect of rights of members of not only our own family, but also of the society and the world at large,then we can change the sad tide of affairs, one small deed at a time. There is always hope.
As a parent, teacher, mentor I have often asked myself how I can fulfill this rather tall ambition of mine, when everyone around me is looking out for themselves in the most selfish of manner, when even other kids resort to bullying, lying, cheating and parents are often okay with it dismissing them as follies of youth? If you are like minded then read on, otherwise you can just dismiss this article as the ramblings of a lone woman with her heart in the right place, but who’s just a day dreamer.
1. Empathy: No child is born inhumane. In fact, studies show that people are usually inclined to do good but then conditions surrounding them effect them and gradually as the child gets older, his moral compass sets in. We have to set an example for our children. Why must we show our mean streak in front of them, why utter abusive language? Why backbite? Why treat others unfairly? Why not do just the opposite? As a Muslim, our conduct is dictated by the mannerisms and life style of our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He was the perfect example of humanity, his actions based on justice. He taught tolerance, so why don’t we practice tolerance in our daily lives? A famous story goes of how a woman used to throw rubbish in his path, and when she failed to do this one day, he actually worried what had happened to her and went around to ask about her. As the famous hadith (saying of the Prophet) goes:
This one simple sentence has the solution to almost every problem there is. How would you like to be treated? Why not treat others like that? Your kids learn about most of the world by observing you. Do you honestly think that a parent who imparts this basic doctrine into his life will raise a child we all dread that this cruel world may lead him towards?
2. Justice: There are certain actions in my opinion that are simply not acceptable. Now granted there are numerous gentle techniques to address the issues that I will mention, the end goal should ultimately be a zero tolerance policy towards: lying, cheating, bullying, cruelty to animals, stealing, extreme disrespect of parents, teachers, family etc,- you get my drift. It’s not rocket science.
If children are empowered with the sense of justice, they can not only make this world a peaceful place, but become highly successful people as well.
And again, you have to be the very symbol of justice. I’m not talking being the lawyer, I am talking about the little simplistic things in life, like taking the above mentioned little transgressions that children often commit into account.
The sense of justice, of clear rights and wrongs are non negotiable. But when dealing with children, the tackling of these issues has to be done foremost with compassion, love and understanding. If punishments are the only way to go, then they have too have to be just, age appropriate, targeted on the misbehavior itself and not make the child feel small and humiliated.
3. Actions and Words: Both are important. We can cultivate exceptional human beings by moderating our actions and speaking well. Teaching kids the usual polite words, showing them little acts of kindness and respect, discouraging the use of street and petty language, all help shape the long term communication skills of your child. Dropping a compliment where it is deserved, taking the bags from an old lady, doing charitable deeds…show them to your child, with the very very important aspect of not expecting anything in return, otherwise it defies the entire object. Again as a devout Muslim, you want them to do all good for the sake of Allah. Go out of your way to infuse good manners in your kids. It will all pan out. And all the while don’t forget the importance of always remaining humble. Don’t teach your child that they are better than anyone, rather reinforce them with the thought that they can do great things and thereby achieve greatness.
4. Cleanliness and Hygiene: Sometimes I see children throwing litter right where they stand when there is a trash can not 2 feet away. It saddens me. Truly a great weight is put on my heart, how can a young child not mindful of putting away their candy wrappers in dustbins be at all responsible when growing up? I know first hand how messy kids can be and that is fine, in that there is a certain creativity but come on…. as parents shouldn’t we draw the line somewhere? Islam places so much stress on cleanliness, and though chocolate smeared mouths and a house strewn with clothes and shoes do not mean that you are a bad parent, but how about we get those tiny hands and feet moving to help clean up the place instead of the maid doing it. A little hard work never hurt anyone. If children are instilled with this one important habit, we can expect cleaner and greener surroundings.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, the best way we can make our children conscientious and moral human beings, is to be such ourselves. We owe it to our beautiful children, we owe it to our families and our communities. We owe it to world and it is the least we can do.