Wishing all parents a very happy Janamashtami and ensuing festive season!!!
Amongst all the festivity, good cheer and all round gaiety brought about by the celebrations,what struck my mind and gripped my heart were some of the answers I have received from children over the years when asked the simple questions:
What are you celebrating today?
Which festival is it today?
The answer is of course always correct! It is Gudi Padwa or diwali. or …
No problems there. Problem lies after that .The next few answers are :
- It is our festival.
- We wear new clothes.
- We have fun.
- We eat …
Seemingly all is fine .We have aware NORMAL children enjoying festivals.
Causes for worry:
- Many children don’t know WHY a certain festival is being celebrated.
- Most do not have any idea that there are similar festivals being celebrated by people from other parts of their country at the same time and for similar reasons but in diverse ways.
- This causes much more than a healthy importance being associated with only the fun ,eating and merrymaking part of a festival.This, in later life, many a time manifests in developing of selfish attitudes and closed minds (OUR FESTIVAL/WE EAT…) in children.
The first place a child learns and forms social ideas and attitudes affecting his open mindedness or lack of it, is – home. Definitely, what we as parents do or even how we phrase our sentences is very important.
What every SMART parent CAN do to help, without worrying about time constraints ?
- Days before the actual date of a festival make the bed time story ritual, one, which is full of diverse stories/myths/tales associated with the festival. Be involved in the .process as a family.
- Provide children with animated/other videos narrating festival stories.(Available across the net too!)
- While going about your work at home, give age appropriate activities related to the festival-colouring/mask making/making greetings for people in the neighbourhood specially the old ones.
For once do tolerate the mess or better you can use the opportunity to have a joint clean up session with the children thus giving you the opportunity to spend healthy conversation family time at the same time teaching children to be humane!
- Brush up your knowledge of the festival .Surf the net whenever you get a spare time slot even if 10 minutes, for diverse info on the festival-The HOWs and WHYs associated with it.This will keep you well armed with the info for transferring it to the child and of course build up your enthusiasm for the festival too!
- Go in for festival family cooking sessions on weekends before the festival .Cook festive food not only from your part of the world but try festive recipes from other places too.
All parents have to choose their battles, so put up with messiness if you must, but teach your child consideration for others and to have an open attitude. Model it for her early on, praise it.
Having interacted with children in diverse geographical places I have found that those children who have grown up in an environment adept at universal acceptance in all aspects and one that has a healthy respect for people and their social associations are more likely to :
- Lead happy creative lives
- Make informed out of the box choices
- Exhibit an open attitude- that of tolerance.
So do teach your child that people ARE important and knowing them IS important.
Remember what Robert Fulghum -author (All I Really Needed to Learn in Kindergarten) said :
“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
So here’s wishing more aware ,informed festivities to all you SMART parents a very happy New Year and Navratri and….Happy celebrating!