Everywhere we look these days, it is primarily upsetting news. We cannot flip through the telly or even check Facebook without coming across the horrors facing this world. From bombs to gunfire, and kidnappings to plane crashes, the horror stories are endless.
What is alarming is the fact that human brutality seems to be on the rise. And we have to wonder what happened to make them reach this point. Somewhere along the journey of life, they lost the way, and turned from innocence to demons.
And now when you have a child, you inadvertently wonder what if it had been you or your child. What is you child was the one who was hurt, or been involved. How do we deal with this?
And that leads to the question of how we want their future to be. Knowing full well that we cant be there to protect them, we need to prepare them for what the challenges they will face. Of course we pray they grow up in a world full of rainbow and unicorns, a utopian paradise, with a fair, just and egalitarian society, but life just does not work that way.
From bullying to racism, to economic disparity, our children will have to go through varied experiences at different stages of life. We cannot deny that these are facts of life, and that there is no way around it. We need to be able to teach them to rise above it, and emerge as a better person. Easier said than done no?
I think the change starts with us, with you and me. With parents, and the lessons we teach our children. There is a need to be more open-minded, and more accepting. To show them that sometimes things may not go the way we want it to, but that we have the power to move on, and rebuild.
We have to be more careful, and know that these young impressionable minds learn from us even when we are not in the process of “teaching”. What we say, what we do, matters. We might be making an innocuous comment about someone’s orientation or religion, without giving it due thought, but children might take that as gospel. So be careful.
That said, we should not take away the beauty of this world away. We should not scare them. Tell our children that for every act of cruelty, there are a million acts of humanity, for every tear that’s shed, there are millions sharing a smile. Share stories of courage, of happiness, of strength and unity.Children need to know that the world is a beautiful place, even with all the madness that goes on.
We need our babies to know that there is goodness all around us. There are helping hands, and big hearts, love and laughter, care and concern. Teach them that the world is a paradox of sorts, but one where the light of positivity will always shine through.
Show them it is okay to be different, for them, or the people around them. Show them that people come in all shapes and sizes, all colors and faiths, and that none of that really matters. Have discussions – about different religions, about different cultures. Tell them that diversity is really the essence of life, and what makes this world a wonderful place.
Our children needs to know perspectives; travel the world, look around, show them that there are many who are less fortunate. Highlight the fact that they are lucky to have what they have, and to be grateful, but not entitled. Tell them that they are the center if your world. By all means, let them know how much you value them, but tell them that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
Kindness and charity begins at home, and it goes a long way in shaping our little ones into adults who can carry the world forward. Politeness, and courtesy – show, don’t tell. Teach them that respect and empathy are important, that compassion is non-negotiable, and that hate is not an option. Always keep in mind, that they are always watching and learning from you. These values shouldn’t be setting our children apart, for these values need to be the norm among all young ones. And for that, the onus lies on us – the parents. For the world to be a better place, we need to better ourselves.
In spite of everything that is going on around us, I know tomorrow will be different. When I look into the face of my child, I don’t feel fear for him in the big bad world, I see hope and optimism; I see a bright new world of harmony, and compassion; one where differences are encouraged, and valued and respected, one of acceptance and inclusivity.
I see the world that we envisioned for ourselves, but didn’t succeed in achieving. And for this to be a reality, the change needs to start with you.