There goes a famous African saying that, "It takes a village to raise a child"
As Indians we are extremely lucky and blessed to have a rich variety of tradition, culture, religion and heritage. It teaches us tolerance and respect towards each other. Introduction of all religions and culture to children makes them liberal and embracing. The reality of the universe is that it is timeless and infinite. All that religions do is to provide practical methods for understanding the same reality. This could be introduced to children through stories and celebrating festivals. Take a visit with your child to your friend’s house when they are celebrating a particular festival of their community and be a part of their celebrations. I remember when I was young we made a trip to one of our South Indian friend’s house. We were a part of their Pongal celebration. The beautiful kolams (rangoli decoration), the cattle with jingling bells and the overdose of aviyal and the sweet pongal, the zeal and vigor still lingers on my mind today. Over and above the celebrations I strongly remember the hospitality and warmth which the family had displayed. It was a learning experience and lasting memory for life.
There are many other day to day experiences in the society which make or break a child. Few of them are very peculiar. When we go to a restaurant the manner in which we react to a waiter who gets a wrong dish, speaks more than those words to a child. Reactions to long queues in the carnival, to a person who meets with an accident on the road, to a person who has lost his way, to senior citizens, to stray dogs and many more situations, make lasting impressions on a child’s mind.
The upbringing of a child is not just by parents/ family back home but also by friends, relatives, neighbours, school and the numerous places which the child visits like parks, restaurants, temples, shops, malls, hospitals and the whole community. We make the community. We constantly keep playing the blame game on every single thing that happens around us. Have we realized that we are all responsible for all the foulness spread across?
Do we ever realize we do share a bit of responsibility towards every child who is born around us in the community? Our actions/ reactions when we our surrounded by any small child is going to really matter to that vulnerable little bud who is going to be the vibrant flower in the garden tomorrow. If you see a child using bad language, throwing litter or anything of that sort, do not bother to ask who’s child it is…..that really does not matter! Go upfront and stop the child from doing it, explain to them the right/ wrong and while doing this – respect the child. Be ‘child friendly’ which means when there are children (even if they are not your biological ones) around you, be like a role model.
In every family in which a child is born, every member has a role to play in the child’s life. Grandparents have an inevitable role – their love and care builds beautiful values in a child. Uncles, Aunts and cousins who come for a holiday or on special occasions have special effects on children. When responsibilities are shared by both parents it can instill abundant family values and attitudes in a child. The whole community which surrounds every child is his/ her extended family. Every element has a role to play in their life.
As I started, it takes a village to raise a child.… Every village should have schools who focus more on value based education, beautiful landscapes, parks to play, libraries, preserved culture and traditions and above all child friendly people!
After all, it takes all of that to raise a child!