I was looking for a book that would give me a list of things I need to teach my children. Not skills but values. I chanced upon a detailed encyclopedia… a treasure trove of knowledge.
Here are some of the values, teachings and principles listed in the book-
I have grouped them into 3 categories, namely; teaching by example, teaching by guidance and the right approach to adopt with children.
Teaching by example:
- Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.1 You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man.2 If we respect, honor and care for our parents and elders, our children will do too. It is sad to see old people who are put into homes against their wish. Many a times their mental/ health requirements compel their family to put them in homes for their well being; but if we are trying to get them out of our way because we consider them a burden, then something is wrong. I wonder if children kept in crèches/ day cares feel that way too. Or would they feel that if their parents, had no time for them in their childhood, do they have to make time for their parents in their second childhood? Especially when the parents let out a sigh of relief towards the end of the weekend, blessing the existence of day cares. Children cannot express their emotions in words, but they too have feelings. If from such a young age we teach them that we need to ensure our lives run smoothly and do not stress on the joy of spending time with family, they will not value us when we cannot serve them.
- If you have decided to do good (serve the Lord), prepare yourself for trials.3 Peer pressure is one of the challenges our children have to face. They are often mocked and insulted when they do not fall in line. They need to have enough love, appreciation and fun at home to realize that they do not need to do wrong to make themselves acceptable. They need to have a strong foundation at home. If they have friends they can trust, at home and in the family, they will be able to withstand peer pressure and not succumb under it. They should be convinced that the path you have set them on is the best for them. For this to happen we need to answer all our children’s questions patiently; avoiding giving orders and expect them to blindly obey. Do we want to indoctrinate our kids or make them rational reasoning mature human beings? If they just nod at everything we say then they are more likely to nod at what others say too, without reasoning. Help them to reason. Shape their conscience , do not make choices for them as you will not have control for long. But their conscience will play the role for you.
- Do not store up resentment against your neighbour, no matter what his offence.4
This one is tough. Forgive and forget – it is easy to say , but not so easy to do.
- Do not remain silent when it is necessary to speak. Do not hide your wisdom.Fight for the truth till death and the Lord will fight for you.5
Like Pope Francis said, do not be a spectator and sit on the fence.
Being fully aware, all through our growing up years, that our father fought for social justice, I feel extremely guilty when I read about threats to our society and do nothing at all. I truly pray for the strength to jump off the fence, not into the safe zone, but into the war zone, to fight for the rights of the weak and the oppressed.
- Learn to lend to your neighbour when he is in need, and repay him any loan on time.6
Be kind to those who have fallen on hard times; do not keep them waiting for your help.7
This is the best time to teach this to our children. Call and check on those who you feel would be hit hard by this Covid 19 pandemic, and see how you can help them.
If you lend money, do not think or discuss about getting it back. Give like you will never get it back. The other person will return it when he or she can. God gave us surplus for a reason – to help those in need. He did not give us a list, making it our duty to find and help those entrusted to us.
- Whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive if you believe.8
Be as vocal as you can with your prayers of petition and thanksgiving. Pray with conviction. Know that God will do what is best for you. Your children will learn through example.
- Whenever you did this to one of the least of my brothers you did it unto me.9
I keep reminding my daughter that God stays in our hearts, because of which we cannot call anyone bad. People may do wrong things but that does not excuse us from doing good to them. We need to learn to give- share as much as we can. Watching us our kids will learn and soon remind us to give if we hold back.
- Whatever you do, do it whole-heartedly,….for you know well that the Lord will reward you with the inheritance. 10
We need to teach our kids to do their best, as only then can God do the rest. One way this could be achieved is by saying this little prayer with them before they go for a test or examination- “God, I studied and put in a lot of effort. Please help me remember all that I studied for the examination. Thank you Lord.”
Teaching by guidance:
- Give thanks to God at every moment.11
Keep telling them how much God has done for them. It will not only teach them gratitude but also make them humble. I know a family that spends time just thanking God. While some play name-place-animal-thing during long car journeys, they list God’s blessings. I liked the idea. Every time there is something to praise, make sure that God gets the credit. For example “The sky looks so beautiful. Only God is capable of making such a beautiful painting. Thank you God for giving us such a beautiful world.” or If the child comes home with a certificate of merit-“Very good my child, let us thank God for helping you remember whatever you studied.” Do not make nothing of the child’s effort, but keep reminding your child that we are not everything. We need God to help us and guide us in everything we do. Do this for some time and your child will soon thank God before you remember to.
Your child will learn to value life and respect our environment.
- Make yourself acceptable to the community.12
This is a very tricky one as one should not misinterpret it as ‘going with the crowd’ or giving in to peer pressure. Follow the rules and regulations laid down by those in authority, as they are made for a purpose. Be prudent. Those in authority could also make a mistake. Suggest changes if you feel necessary but do not follow the ‘rules are meant to be broken’ concept.
- A man’s tongue can bring about his downfall.13
Do not sin in big things nor in small things and do not become an enemy when you should be a friend.14
In short, do not gossip and hurt others. Gossiping is something that comes so naturally to us, that we often do it without even realizing. I have heard great suggestions that one could try:-
1) Bite your tongue whenever you catch yourself talking about others(slandering their name and reputation).
2) Make a conscious effort to speak good about people. For example, say something like “Jack is setting such a good example to us by exercising daily and going for brisk walks.” If not you may end up saying “See that hero. Forever trying to impress girls. Can’t he sit at home and do some work?”
- Do not offend the man who repents of his sins; remember that we all are guilty.15
I feel “no one is perfect” would be a simpler line to tell a child.
- He who recognizes his faults diminishes its consequences.16
Never punish a child after he/she has confessed to doing something wrong. Instead applaud them for being accountable and guide them on mending the damages done. Our efforts will go a long way in making them accountable citizens and assets to whichever organisation they join when they grow up. If we only punish, then they will hide their mistakes and make matters worse.
- Treat others the way you would like them to treat you.17
When kids come back from school, they are often very eager to narrate the day’s happenings, making it a good time to guide them on how to react to various situations they found themselves in through the day. Discuss small incidents and possible reactions they could elicit from their adversaries and the impact they could have on others. Even a 3 year old will understand if spoken to calmly. It is very difficult, but very important, not to get excited if you want to get your views across.
The right approach to adopt with children:
- A good heart is seen in a happy face.18
Try to stay happy. Smile always and remind your children to smile.
- Do not reprehend anyone unless you have first been fully informed. Consider the case first, and then make your reproach. Do not reply before you have listened ;do not interrupt the one who is speaking.19
If we follow this ourselves, our kids will grow up to be just in their dealings with others. When children fight, we need to hear out both sides before passing judgement. Who is crying does not really matter.
Most of you must have guessed the name of my reference book. Yes, it is the BIBLE.
1 – Mt 19: 19
2 – Lev 19:32
3 – Sir 2:1
4 – Sir 10: 6
5 – Sir 4: 23,28
6 – Sir 29: 2
7 – Sir 29: 8
8 – Mt 21: 22
9 – Mt 25: 40
10 – Col 3: 23-24
11 – 1 Thes 5: 18
12 – Sir 4:7
13 – Sir 5: 13
14 – Sir 5: 15
15 – Sir 8: 5
16 – Sir 20: 3
17 – Mt 7:12
18 – Sir 13: 26
19 – Sir 11: 7-8
Read it and you will find so many more tips to guide your every step in life. Enjoy reading and reflecting.
Do share your parenting related reflections in the comments below.