TURNING POINT: Raising the Young in a Morally-healthy Environment

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NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/22 September) — Kahlil Gibran, the great Lebanese philosopher and poet, reminded us that our children came from us but don’t’ belong to us.  They have their own lives to live. But because they came from us and stay with us for some time (from day one up to year 25 or more in Filipino homes), we have the duty and responsibility to train and develop them as responsible citizens in the kingdom of God and men. We owe that to them.

In this regard, there are two very important and precious wealth we can leave as legacy to our children: roots and wings (See also mindanews.com. “coming home”)

Roots refer to the shared values and memories that make and strengthen a home where one always feels to belong and finds shelter and comfort from the vicissitudes of life.

And what are these life-defining values? In a Christian family, and I  suppose also in other faiths, they include belief and faith in God, love and respect for one another, truthful, honest and decent living, the dignity of work, patience and perseverance among others.

Wings, on the other hand, comprise of the nurture, guidance and discipline on how the young are raised by their elders that inspires confidence to dream dreams, to fly with their dreams and break away from the limiting circumstances of home.  Children who grew up in an atmosphere of love, respect and trust will always cherish every opportunity of coming back home no matter how far they may have flown away from the nest, so to speak.

Words are not enough to train and discipline children. The way we live our lives, how we behave in good and bad times, teaches the young effectively for life, more than any other teaching method can deliver.

We best teach by what we do.

There’s a saying among the Tagalogs,

“Kong anong nakikita ng mga bata sa kanilang matatanda,  yan ay tama”.  (Translation: What the children see on their elders, to them it is right)

In Cebuano, the summative effect of parental modeling is expressed in kids’ song:

‘Wakwak imong nanay, wakwak imong tatay, ikaw kay anak man, wakwak       kamong tanan. Ayaw kasuko kay tinuod man”

(Translation: Your mother is a witch, your father is a witch, because you are     their child, all of you are witches. Don’t be mad because that is true.)

Positive and negative traits are generally established at young age at home. Certain characteristics  may remain with them into adulthood and define how they behave in society.

That is why cursing, swearing and utterances of  bad words is taboo in our family in consonance with the Christian-Protestant traditions on holistic healthy living. Not to carry my own chair, you won’t hear anyone cussing in the family from my grandparents down to my grandchildren.

My father had only two commandments he wanted us to remember and live for life which he himself observed: Do not gamble and do not steal.

A gambler sooner or later ends up doing a lot of immoral and illegal things to sustain the vice.  One who does not steal observes the rest of the commandments: he doesn’t harm his neighbor,  take away his neighbor’s wife and other possessions, and deprive the neighbor’s children of their future. By so doing he honors his parents and pleases his God.

Again, we have to nourish our kids with virtues and inspiring observable behaviors of our very own.

Despite everything, our kids will at one time or another commit mistakes as everyone else. Let us always give them another chance. We must refrain from condemning them. We must not lose faith in our children. We have to continue trusting them. We must shower them with love and understanding, the balm to heal sick relationship.

Home is a responsive moral and social relationship.

Now we move to the role of the young, especially their responsibility to their parents. There is one in the Ten Commandments of God where a reward is already assured to those who could follow?

That is No.5 {Exodus 20:12} that says “Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

How could the young honor their parents?

Primarily, to grow and live lives that will make their parents happy and  proud of.

Parents are richly honored seeing their children giving their best to what they are doing, or what they are tasked to do, no matter how small or humble it is.

No pride and joy can match that of parents in having diligent and conscientious students, and kids, in their adult life, becoming honest and reliable members of society, of being decent success in whatever endeavor they address their lives to.

Finally, parents are honored watching their kids raise children of their own into truthful, honest, decent and responsible citizens of the land, upholding at all times the values and virtues they learned at home. The game is passing it forward. Indeed, the child is the father of the man.

In conclusion, we reap what we sow.  You sow a whirlwind, you harvest a hurricane. You sow lies, you harvest revulsion. You sow fear, you harvest hatred. You sow love, you harvest peace. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)

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