Eye on children

Prof Javed Mughal

Our children are our torch-bearers when we are groping in darkness of old-age. They are the translation of our hopes and aspirations. They are the elucidation of our dreams and prospects. We have to be very serious about what they do from morning till evening; what kind of company they are routinely in; and above all we have to be very particular about their day-to-day likes and dislikes. It is all because their ‘today’ is to define their tomorrow. A majority of our children can very easily discover in a surrounding which is the most likely to have a crippling impact on their future life and thereby on our life that is inexorably connected to it. Android phones to the children with unmonitored internet facility; abundance of unaccounted pocket money, and unbridled freedom which is the west and style of the day is sure to plague the life of our children in a ruthless way and it needs to be realized now and here. Let me narrate a small story. There was once a boy who went to school. One day, he swiped a small item from a friend’s bag and brought it home. His mother asked him where he got it from and he said he stole it from his friend’s satchel. His mother, being of shady morals no doubt, did not say anything to him at the time. Having bloomed into full swing criminal, after a series of robberies and thefts, the police of yore – apparently being much more astute than they are now – managed to nab him and bring him to justice. As he was being carted off in chains, he asked for one last meeting with his mother. The meeting being duly arranged, the young man leaned in to say something to his mother… but instead, bit her ear off! The highly upright and moral ‘thief’ then said to his mother, if you had reprimanded me for stealing all those years ago, I wouldn’t be the criminal I am today. Most mothers do not bother to check children’s supplements to see if the content is appropriate for their children. While we censor bloody pictures of bomb blast victims, we are quite sure such pictures will never make their way to the children’s pages. While we censor content on television, there are millions of images children are exposed to on a daily basis which are just as damaging to their developing minds and psyche as anything worst. So some messages are shaping their minds though we can’t see it. There is actually a fine line between innocent fun and games -childhood pranks or mischief if you call it – and immoral behavior. We cannot condone stealing in our children in any form. Call me a prude, but if my kid stole a chocolate even from his Aunt’s possession, I would at the very least make the brat apologize to the lady (who in the scheme of things would be all ‘no no bacchay, here have some more, you only need to ask, you know!), and perhaps I would withhold chocolate privileges for a week from my child! Fun and games aside, if we are not enforcing such basic behaviour on our children, then what are we doing? Am I over reacting here? Is the advertisement really not so offensive, while I am reading too much into it? After all, much more absurd things come on television advertising all the time. It’s just a way to attract people’s attention to their message, not of promoting a certain type of behaviour in children. If we as parents are offended, then we need to make sure that we are teaching our children the right values, so that they do not get swayed by the conflicting messages coming to them from society. As educators, we keep talking about the decline of values in our younger generation. Teachers lament the loss of basic etiquettes and good behaviour amongst school children and the collegians too. They bring these attitudes into the classroom from their homes. You say something to the child, and their parents come to fight with you the next day. The basic norms and values which we were so sure about a decade ago have changed, replaced by an amorphous body of societal rules that are all the time in a continuous flux. The lines are blurry, one keeps questioning oneself, and it is hard to take a stand sometimes as to what behaviour is right and what is unacceptable. As a result, many of our basic values are being corroded slowly, imperceptibly but definitely. How sure are we of our values? And who decides what these values are?  We are all custodians of our society’s values. We owe it to our children to counter the most insidious messages being thrown at them. When something obviously extreme is said on television, we can at least scoff so that our kids can know this is ridiculous. It is not always wise to forcibly keep our little kids away from certain objectionable stuff telecast on TV. We should rather convince our children about the devastating repercussions of such telecasts. The point is to compel the brains of children to remain away from the things intrinsically bad but attractive apparently but the very heart and mind of this docile creature has to be motivated as to make them develop an inborn aversion to misleading habits. The sum total environment at home and parent’s decision to spend much time with them can work at lot in shaping and redefining the children’s habits into moral etiquettes. We should also do things like treating our children like sensible, responsible human beings, and engaging them in meaningful conversation and discussion. What do they feel when they see a crazy ad on TV? Do their friends actually believe in or happily put up with some of the far-out things being presented on the media? Can a chess game be extrapolated to the conclusion ‘white ki black par jeet’, so everyone should start using fairness creams? If you actually sit down with the younger generation, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that they are much more sensible and responsive than we give them credit for. They just need our guidance now and then. They respond to our good intentions if given in small doses. Narrating the life stories of great men into their clean and receptive ears will inculcate formative inclinations into them and will entice them to imitate the morals and principals of these great souls of the yore. Our task as parents is exactly as difficult as it was before, as it will always be. The players keep changing and the contours of the land may be different. But we must arm our children with the strong values they need to help them navigate this mine-field of life. When all is said and done, they will not remember us for granting them those cushy postings or allowing them to go to the clubs and pubs with their friends. They will remember us for gifting them strong values and supporting them at the times in their lives when they needed to use them.
We must not leave the most important lessons of life for our children to learn on their own through chance or pick up from society. we must Teach them our-self. Religious teaching must imparted to the child right from the day when it starts talking and listening. Religious instruction can be as effective if provided at the early stage as it can prove to be of no significance at the stage when the grown-up child has gone off-the-track. Good habits forcibly imposed can’t be so great meaning and benefit to the child as it can be if injected into its very blood. The good conduct and habits are very important to be made the part of sentimental and emotional texture of the child.

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