As our lives grow busier, and time becomes precious, we somehow find the days getting shorter. As we climb up the corporate success ladder, we have a person assigned for just about everything. There is a driver to take us from point A to B, a cook to prepare our meals and juice the anti-oxidant rich fruits required to keep us going, a cleaner to keep the dust off carefully curios from travels abroad. Then there could be yoga trainers, spiritual teachers, life coaches, gym instructors... the list goes on.
And much as we assign all the important tasks in our lives to those most competent to carry them out, we also delegate others to accomplish the various requirements of childcare—a nanny to dress and feed, a sitter for play-dates, a tutor for homework and assignments, an instructor for music/ dance/taekwondo...
But wait a minute... who have we assigned to teach them values and morals?
Are we taking the time and the right steps to actually tell them stories, incidents, tales and experiences that will build their value systems?
Is it the school? After all we also choose our children's school after careful consideration of board (CBSE/ICSE/ IB etc.), methodology (Montessori/ Waldorf, Sudbury/traditional etc.), focus areas (extra-curricular or academic), and so on.
Well, let's be realistic. Schools are institutions for building the academic fibre and personality of the child. And in the jam-packed day of scholastic and extra-curricular activities (yes there may be a couple of stories from the Panchatantra and Aesop's fables thrown in, and a few moral science lessons), where is the time to squeeze in more? The schools will teach general guidelines of values, such as the importance of being kind, respectful and honest. But how it translates to our personal value system, is, well, personal.
Grandparents are the most possible suspects to impart this, but how many kids today are lucky to have them around as they grow up? You may argue that when we were growing up, values were something we imbibed by experiencing the environment and not necessarily by some lessons. But take a good look. What are our kids witnessing? Adults leading a fast-paced, stressed, quick ROI-driven, technology-dependent life, disjointed conversations, more face-timing on the phone than in person. Are we taking the time and the right steps to actually tell them stories, incidents, tales and experiences that will build their value systems? The important and permanent memory that they will refer to, all their lives, whenever faced with a moral dilemma is stemming from what they see in their childhood.
Should it be the responsibility of TV and media? Well. Let's not even go there!
So the next time you roll your eyes when you see a bunch of teenagers ordering drinks or roaming in a mall wearing clothes you find age-inappropriate, do a little soul-searching to ensure you are doing your bit to pass what you consider good values to your progeny.
"It is vital that when educating our children's' brains we do not neglect to educate their hearts."—HH Dalai Lama
"Live, so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you."—H. Jackson Brown Jr.