I am sure we remember our childhood lying under the covers, looking wide eyed at our parents as they narrated stories to us about animals, kings and queens and faraway lands. Each of these stories had a moral to it which taught us a new virtue every day. Morals help build character and develop our conscience, without moral values we are reduced to nothing but savages with no law and order or control. But how relevant are these morals today? We attempt to teach children to staunchly follow these moral values while we ourselves find them hard to follow. With changing times comes a need for changing morals as well. Here is a list of ten offbeat morals that you should teach your children.
10. He that finds discontentment in one place is (not) likely to find happiness in another
Our parents have always worked hard to inculcate values in us to adjust with life and surroundings around you, values like sacrifice and compromise are important to survive everywhere and maintain relationships personally as well as professionally. But somewhere along the line, compromise takes the centre stage crushing our ambition into oblivion, and complacency sets in. Discontentment is not a negative feeling it is simply an indication that maybe the work you are doing does not interest you, hence it’s up to you to discover what you like to do instead of what you should do. Parents should teach kids to find their source of contentment, to explore all the options they have and settle for nothing less.
9. Liars are not believed even when they tell the truth
We all know the story about the boy who shouted ‘wolf’, he lied so often that no one believed him when he told the truth. The story emphasized that we must always speak the truth and lying is a sin, yet we lie; sometimes to get out of trouble, or to protect someone’s feelings. In some situations it is okay to lie or in that case speak a half truth or a white lie. The truth eventually does come out but it can be hurtful too, to lie about a trifling matter to make someone happy, or to save an honest man is not wrong. Children learn by example and lying in front of them when preaching truthfulness can make it seem okay for them to lie about everything, but by being open with your kids you could trust them to lie under certain circumstances as long as you explain to them why!
8. It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow
The grasshopper died for want of food because he didn’t save up like the ants but sang all summer, this all but tells us the story of the grasshopper and the ants which forms the origin of the saying. Saving for a rainy day is a smart decision and planning for the unpredictable future. But it is also said that live today like there is no tomorrow, there is a reason that today is called a present; it is a gift to be enjoyed. Planning ahead is an important virtue to teach your kids, but also teach them the importance of the time today, so they can enjoy each phase in their life and prepare for their future as well;be both the ant and the grasshopper!
7. Follow rules
Rules and regulations are made to keep society co-existing harmoniously, to ensure equal treatment for all but we all know that there are rules small and big which are irrelevant to a smooth and efficient environment. Government offices are often always associated with stigma, due to the incessant work and time invested on trying to follow rules which have no importance or basis. In our severely non- Utopian society, trying to abide by the rules and still manage to be happy is a bleak vision. You all have broken rules at some point of time or the other is it a traffic rule, or a school rule. Sometimes it’s okay to let children know that rules can be broken as long as you can bear with the consequences; children are going to break rules nonetheless so they might as well talk to you first about it!
6. Be sure that there are others worse off than yourself
All morals always teach us to share, co operate and be generous. There are people worse off than us and it is our duty to help those in need of our assistance. Though a required moral, it has its limitations. For a society to function every man must follow the same set of morals but it is not so, hence the simple and honest are often taken for a ride. Kids are innocent and gullible and being too morally ethical can have its share of misfortunes. How many times has it happened that in your want to help someone you have left your own work incomplete? have had to take the fall for somebody else’s mistakes? So teach your kids to be selfish, to think about themselves first so that some smart kid in school doesn’t take away their homework under the guise of ‘sharing’.
5. The Good always defeats evil(?)
A recurring theme in all movies, the favorite stuff of fairy tales, we have grown up hearing stories with happy endings, where everything is rosy at the end of the day, and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and where the hero will always defeat the villain. The real picture is not so rosy and it is difficult to have your hopes shattered when you are in the right. Yes, the purpose of fairy tales is to preserve their innocence and childhood and to protect them for as long as possible from the stark reality of things but eventually they are going to have to face it and shouldn’t it be better that they be ready for it? Teach them right from wrong and to do what is right but also teach them that there will be sadness and disappointment even if you are in the right but what is important is to get up and move on.
4. Clothes do not make the man. Do they?
Clothes do not make the man. This saying instills the belief that a man’s external appearance or attire is not a reflection on the man’s character and the fact that a person is well dressed does not necessarily mean that he is going to be just as well nature-wise. Though wise and true in general it may not always apply. We know as grown- ups the importance of presentation in our day to day lives-be it formal during interviews, or informal when going for parties, get together or restaurants. For formal occasions a dress code is well defined with the sole intention of maintaining a professional atmosphere like when going for an interview or while attending meetings , whereas for informal occasions though not always specified we do tend to dress according to the occasion. We do pay attention to a person’s appearance and first impressions are generally always dependent on presentation skills, hence though a retraction of the above moral you should teach your children to learn the importance of appropriate presentation, though not to judge someone’s attributes on that basis.
3. Do (not) count your chickens before they are hatched
How many times have we heard this from our grandmothers that we mustn’t count our chickens before they hatch or as this age old proverb means to not expect all our hopes to get fulfilled? As Indians I believe we are hardwired to avoid risks on account of our conservative views on giving first priority to handling family responsibility and duties. People prefer regular paying 9 to 5 jobs as employees especially government jobs due to the level of security that comes with it. But in recent times this trend has been reversing with the generation Y preferring to explore diverse options with respect to studies, job preferences as well as life decisions. For all of you who have read the book ‘Count your chickens before they hatch’ by Arindam Chaudhary, you will know the book talks about how we are our own change agent and that successful people make things happen instead of waiting for it. Though it makes sense to not put a lot of faith in the future since it is unpredictable, we cannot expect a venture to take off until we are absolutely convinced about it, which comes with expecting it to succeed and to make sure you work hard enough to make it so! The moral to teach your kids is to not depend on the future but to be ambitious enough to dream ahead and make their own and believe in the fact that they can!
2. The greedy never know when they have had enough
A pretty straightforward saying, it disparages the quality of being greedy and goes on to enumerate that people who are greedy are never satisfied with or appreciate what they have and are always in a state of unhappiness due to the constant want for more. Happiness is a state of mind and though it makes sense to appreciate the small things in life and what we have; sometimes greed can be good! Being greedy to achieve greater heights, to fulfill one’s ambitions and dreams and expect more from oneself, pushes you harder to be all that you can be. As parents you try to console your kids when they encounter failure and tell them that it’s okay, you try to convince them to set their sights lower and not expect so much. But they should be taught to be greedy, to expect more from themselves, since it is then that they will be able to fully discover their talents and strengths, and grow unceasingly.
1. Spare the rod and spare (spoil) the child
With corporate punishment in schools now banned and even punishable by law, the above saying has lost its relevance in this age of changing dynamics between parents and children. Where earlier, discipline was instilled very early into children by parents, a wide generation gap existed and punishments were used extensively to educate children and correct them. Now with this gap slowly disappearing and parents increasingly becoming friends, this archaic practice has become obsolete, and well so since and according to psychiatrists using stern punishments or rebukes causes feelings of inferiority complex, depression and low self esteem in children. If you want your child to understand his mistakes, talk to him/her about it and explain him/her what he did wrong and why it was wrong. Children will behave the way we treat them hence if you treat them responsibly they will learn to accept it too. If you want your children to trust you, trust them first.