Editor’s Note: Children learn easily. They observe keenly. And are very receptive. So, as parents, we should try and inculcate the right morals in them from a young age. Here are a few thoughts from our member Viswamitra

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In my generation, we all grew up with our parents and grandparents telling us moral stories every night before we went to bed. Besides publications like Chandamama and Amar Chitra Kada consisting of a lot of moral stories from epics and other life stories of ancient India were available for us to subscribe and read it regularly. Parents bought such stories and encouraged children to read them so that they would get a good dose of morals in their life. Parents read books for children every night for them to get accustomed to reading books. This action resulted in children developing a reading habit while growing which became a lifestyle even after they grew up as adults.

Nowadays, nuclear families are very common and older generation staying with young parents are slowly decreasing. They are no longer available to help raise grandchildren. Besides, both parents are working and leave the children in Preschools/day care centers as they both work to make a living. They have very little time to spend with their children and really work hard to drop and pick children from day care centers. Even if they return home late in the evening, they are so busy catching up with preparation of dinner, household work and returning phone calls to friends and relatives.

Bottom line is children spend most of their time watching television, playing with electronic gadgets like Play Station, desktop computers, iPad, mobile phones, televisions, etc. Many games that are available in such gadgets are not very conducive to the development of children and not all programs in the television are the best meeting the requirements of the children. The world is changing from reading books and newspaper to reading stuff in electronic gadgets. If children need to learn something, they are no longer asking parents, uncles and grandparents but look for solution from Google. While Wikipedia and many other sites are providing big data that is relevant to the subject that children are looking for, they are not getting trained to assimilate that big data into analyzable and meaningful information. Most parents are not very familiar with security systems/parental control available in the internet to protect them from watching websites that are not good for them.

In order to remain neutral to religions, the schools are not teaching any morals anymore and unfortunately, most morals are embedded only in holy books, epics and scriptures. Instead of looking at them as teachings for right way of living, people are considering that as enforcing a particular religion on children. As a matter of fact, children learning teachings available in all religions are very good for their development. The children at the age group of 2 years to 5 years (preschool), 6-10 (elementary), 11-13 (secondary/middle) and 14-17 (higher secondary/high school) will have to be handled differently with due care and diligence by the parents. Their online habits and capabilities increase significantly during that period. 

My humble suggestion is to have parents buy moral stories loaded in electronic gadgets for children from 2 years to 5 years and go through those stories along with them before going to bed. When they draw pictures, have them draw something that would represent a scene from one of the moral stories. During the age of 6-10 children emulate a lot of parents’ habits and therefore, it is important for us to watch television programs that would show epics, geographic explorer, history channel, etc. During this age, it is important for them to know that their life is blessed when compared to children who are underprivileged and why is it important to help others. When they reach the age of 11-13, they struggle between independent views and parental views. At this age, parents should never exercise authority but question the children to derive answers themselves. This will facilitate them to become fine young men/women later. When they reach the age group of 14-17, they really function independent even though they are interdependent and the parents will have to become like friends/teachers/consultants to tell them what they would like to know. It is time to teach the importance of character building, practicing discipline, watching programs that could impart knowledge, physically helping other children, elders and people who are in need. 

Most importantly, the parents should make the best possible effort to fine tune the life of the children and should never have guilt for not doing the job properly. The best thing is to have an internal satisfaction that the parents did everything possible to shape the life of their children.