“Mumma, he hit me”, my three and a half year old said as soon as she came in after a long and exhausting day at school.
“What did you do then? Did you push him back? “, I looked at her questioningly.
“No, you said no, we should not hit anyone. It is BAD,” came a quick and curt answer.
“Yes, thats true” was all I could say at that moment as she had put me in yet another Catch 22 situation.But, it led me in to thinking as to whether it is just white or black or there can be shades of grey when it comes to teaching our kids the ‘rights and the wrongs’.
Children ask questions, a lot of questions so much so that at times we are deep in the rigmarole of their ‘whys and hows’. We are mere mortals, who generally address their queries by just putting a flag of ‘yes it is good’ and ‘no, it is bad’. In our bid to save ourselves from a long interrogation, we as parents do not touch upon the grey areas which in turn are left unaddressed.
Children are impressionable. They take us very seriously. And come to think of it, why wouldn’t they? For them we are the epitome of morality. So, it is of utmost importance that we take them seriously as well and strive to have a discussion with them(yes, even with toddlers, they have a mind of their own) , whenever they ask a pertinent question.
This brings us to the next pivotel question, that can we answer all the queries of our children in the best possible manner? Well, as I said life is not white and black. You as a responsible and ethically sound parent would tell your child to “Never hit anyone” as it is “Bad”. But, if one fine day, you realise that your child has become the easiest prey to bully on pretext of his ‘good’ behaviour inculcated by none other than you, I am sure you will take a pause and brood. No parent would want to raise meek children. From what I have learned in my few years as a parent I was able to come up with the following ground rules so as to instill morality and a sense of right and wrong in a balanced way:
DO NOT OVERPREACH
Like adults, children too do not take well to an overdose of preaching. Neither make him an out and out Gandhi nor a Hitler. Try and strike a balance. Once he grows up he would be able to think as to what ideals to follow but as a kid it is best to take a middle path.
NATURE IS THE BEST TEACHER
Leave somethings at Nature’s disposal. As they say, Nature is the best teacher, let your child learn somethings on his own by experiences with other children and by the ususal humdrums of his carefree life. Trust me, he will learn things which no book can teach him.
DO NOT TRY AND MAKE HIM WHAT HE IS NOT
Every child is different in his own special way. Your child may be reticent ,while your neighbour’s on the other hand may be unrestrained. We as parents like to bring out the best in our children so as to enable them to conquer the world, but we should remember to keep their intrinsic nature alive. Making him what he is not will end up botching his persona.
Children are God’s most precious and unscathed creations and He would like it if we take good care of them. Wouldn’t He?