As a parent to three kids, I find myself instilling values in my daily conversations with my two elder ones somewhat more frequently, especially this year.
And I guess, it’s more because Anya is now in Primary One, and she spends quite a long period of time away from us every day (ie. About 5-6 hours, from Monday to Friday), where she gets to play, observe and interact with friends from different walks of life.
She gets to see friends behaving and responding in ways that are perhaps ‘new’ to her.
At school, she meets people who are helpful and friendly, but also some others who tell lies, yell at friends (and her!), speak proudly of own achievements, etc.
And she often needs to make a choice too, eg. To be indifferent, to join others in blaming a friend, to copy other people’s behaviours, or to not follow the crowd because she has her own way of doing things.
As a 7yo school girl, I’m sure it hasn’t been easy for her.
Like for example, the other day as Anya shared with me how her day was like, she told me about a boy who took his friend’s eraser home and claimed that it was his.
“That boy took the eraser during recess, Mommy! It wasn’t even his! It wasn’t the first time that he did something like that. And his form teacher scolded him!“, she enthusiastically shared.
“If the teacher didn’t find out and tell him off, do you think it’s okay for him to take his friend’s eraser?“, I casually asked as we walked home together.
“No. But why did that boy take the eraser when no one was in class? It’s not his.”
“Well, … many people think that when no one is looking, they can do whatever they want, even when it’s a wrong thing.”
“Like when someone took home a water bottle that belongs to another student when no one was around?”
I nodded and said, “Some people choose to NOT steal or cheat, because they’re scared of getting caught and fined, not because it’s the right thing to do. Well, WE should choose to do what’s right, though no one is looking. God sees everything, including what we feel in our hearts and what we have in our minds.”
One of the many things which I’m very thankful for is, over the years (ie. Since both kids started nursery school), we’ve sort of built this ‘habit’ of sharing. When I see Anya and Vai after school, I’d ask the kids about their day and they’d share with me about their friends, what their teachers taught, what they did, etc.
(Btw, fyi it wasn’t like this in the beginning. I used to get a shrug and ‘I don’t know’ as their replies. It really is a habit that I must continually nurture over the years in my attempt to build an open communication with the kids. I must say that being a fulltime mom helps greatly in this case, because I get to see them straight after school, when everything is still ‘fresh’)
Anyway, I’m glad that the kids can tell me these things because it allows me to see the kinds of struggles they face, and the kinds of values (good and bad) that they’re exposed to at school, etc.
This way, during our chats, I can also share my thoughts on certain issues with them, correct any wrong ideologies, instill biblical values, encourage positive behaviours, etc.
(And I quietly hope that this ‘habit’ continues on)
PS: Btw, being parents to bigger kids, we find ourselves needing to reflect on our own values and principles too, to see if we walk our talk as well. Not easy.