‘What should parents teach their children? ‘ is the question which is foremost on any parent’s mind- either a new parent or an existing parent. Before you stress over this , remember parenting isn’t an exam! It’s ok if you have forgotten to teach your kids something. It is never too late. Sometimes, you automatically realise and sometimes you just need a little reminder. We all do.
My post specifically relates to things you should teach your children about your customs and traditions. Below are things which I feel are necessary to teach children but if you feel I have left out anything please put them in the comment box at the end of the post.
If you are not living in the country of your origin, it is very hard to teach your child your mother tongue, especially if the children don’t have anybody to speak to in their mother tongue other than the parents. Despite all this, I believe it is very important to teach your children your mother tongue .
I consider teaching mother tongue as an inheritance. I believe that inheritance and legacy just doesn’t mean money and property, it also means what you will pass on to your children and remain with them long after you are gone.
Another point to be considered here is that, if you do not teach your children your mother tongue, your children will not be able to teach their children and therefore your language or mother tongue will die with you ! As crude as it sounds, it is the truth!
If you think it appropriate you can send your child for tuition to learn the language , though I recommend, it being taught by the parents. Even though you do send them for tuition, your children might still not talk or understand the language as they are not getting enough practice or because they don’t speak it with the parents.
You can also take the help of Grandparents. Remember, it’s your parents who taught you the language in the first place!
If you have any traditional foods as per your caste and community, you should not only teach your children to eat it but also at an appropriate age teach them how to cook it. Try to create the same environment as your own country if possible. Your children should know about their origins.
For example, as soon as I started weaning my children on to solid foods, I started giving them rice and lentils as well as Indian bread (chapati) and Indian vegetable(sabji or shak).
This one is a tough one but not impossible. Remember as a parent you have got to make your child aware of all your traditions and culture. Try to celebrate all or at the very least celebrate the most important festivals of your culture. You can also make them more aware of it through books or movies showing these festivals. For example, as an Indian Hindu, Diwali is the most important festival for us. So I teach them ( through books or just by talking to them ) what is the significance of Diwali by telling them the story of Rama and Sita and Ravaan and that Diwali means the victory of good over evil.
If it is not possible to celebrate the other lesser known festivals then you can always talk to them about it when you feel they are beginning to understand or are getting interested in the festivals linked to your culture.
There could be other traditions linked to your culture which could be important. For example, it is an Indian tradition to take blessings of the elders especially during festivals like Diwali. So if that is your tradition as well, you will have to make the effort to teach your children . You should do it to your elders and let them ‘copy’ you.
Effort has to be yours
If you are not living in the country of your origin, extra effort will have to be made by parents in order to teach children about your customs and traditions. If you don’t make efforts, you won’t see results! Efforts have to be made continuously, constantly and regularly.
Persevere . Even if they don’t show any interest initially, do not stop trying. If you do it continuously, they will come round and show interest. Try different ways of teaching them -don’t stick to the traditional way of teaching them. For example, if you have more than one child – ask them who knows what is a sock called in your mother tongue? Praise them all for trying or getting it correct.
You have to do it yourself
As I have repeatedly said in all my posts, parents always copy their children. So parents need to be seen by children as following all their customs and traditions. For example, if you do not speak in your mother tongue (at least at home) children won’t speak it either.
Praise and encourage them
Whenever your children follow your customs or traditions, make sure to praise them. This will encourage them to do it again. If they speak in your mother tongue , encourage them to talk to other people (who have the same mother tongue) in that language . This will give them lots of encouragement as well.
Try to make it fun
If you try to make it fun to learn your customs and traditions for your children then, they will learn it faster. For example, I have downloaded an app on my phone which teaches them our mother tongue but also lets them play games. Ordinarily, I don’t allow them to play games on my phone. So this is a treat for them!
It is important for parents to believe that teaching your children about customs and traditions is an important lesson to be taught. Teach your children what you believe is important. Teaching for the sake of it will not give any results and will be a waste of your time and effort.
Teaching children your customs and traditions is very important. If you teach your children, then they will teach their children. If you do not teach them they will be unable to teach their children and all your customs and traditions will die out – at least in your family.
What are your thoughts on teaching your mother tongue to your child? If you are already doing it, what hardships do you face? Please share via comment box below.