Top 10 Parenting Tips - Part 2
by Rommel Fernandes
(Benaulim, Goa, India)
Here are 10 more tips that I learned from my parents. My parents were not perfect people. They had their weaknesses like all humans have. But overall, I think that they did a good job in raising us three kids.
- 1. Encourage your children to read good books.
From a very early age we were encouraged to read books written by good Christian writers. Dad spent a lot of money in building a library for us and it was mom's job to ensure that we made use of it. By the time we were 15 or 16 years old we had devoured most of the Christian classics out there and the biographies of Christian missionaries. From them we learned that we had a greater purpose in life on earth than just looking after our own needs.
- 2. Teach them not to make fun of people:
There are lots of eunuchs in India and they are people who are looked down upon and made fun of. Dad taught us that they were also human beings made in the image of God who needed to be respected. He gave them money whenever he could.
When I was in my mid twenties, one day I was traveling by train when two eunuchs entered to ask for alms. My colleagues started to make fun of them when they came to us. I kept quiet and gave their leader a Rupee bill. When they left I told my colleagues that they should not have done what they had and why. One of them told me few days later that he had never thought about it the way I had and that henceforth he would try to care about the feelings of other people.
We were also taught never to make fun of physically challenged people.
- 3. Allow the flow of ideas:
On our dinner table we were allowed to discuss any topic under the sun. We weren't permitted to ridicule someone else's opinion or to talk out of turn and thus became good listeners. Even controversial Christian doctrines were discussed. Because of this, we became broadminded. Today I can sit for tea and talk at length with a member of any other Christian denomination.
- 4. Teach each them to help the needy and the weak:
Mom never sent a beggar away empty handed from our doorstep. Dad used to give them his shirts when he could. They were not torn ones or worn out ones. Wherever I worked, I always had a soft corner for weaker and less efficient people under me when I was their boss.
- 5. Don't show partiality:
We did not have sibling rivalry in our house as my parents did not treat any of us three children with partiality. All of us were loved equally.
- 6. Teach them not to waste other people's time or waste anything:
Dad ensured that our family always reached church on time for the Sunday service or for the Wednesday Bible Study meeting. I learned from him to be punctual always and to never waste a person's time. Even today whenever there is an appointment I try to leave early so I can reach 5 to 10 minutes before time. We were also thought not to waste anything. We live in a country where millions of people don't get even one meal a day. We were told to take as much food as we needed on our plate and never to waste food. We had to clean our plates and not throw away even a single grain of rice. Wastage of any kind (even water) in our house was not permitted. We weren't supposed to take things for granted.
- 7. Let them decide what they want to become:
When we were at cross roads to decide which course to take in college, mom and dad were there at our side not to force us to take a particular course that they wanted us to but to let us take whatever we liked and to let us know that they would always be there for us.
- 8. Give time to your children:
No matter how busy Dad was (he had to bring his work to our home as he was in a Managerial position), I could always go to him and talk to him about issues I faced. He would then drop whatever he was doing for few minutes to hear what I had to say. Sunday evening was family time. We all used to sit and watch a movie together. I have very fond memories of these times of bonding on Sunday evenings and our family picnics on the beach.
- 9. Teach them to take responsibilities when they are little:
Mom used to prepare a duty chart for the three of us. We had to take turns in setting the table, helping Mom to clean the dishes after meals, emptying the rubbish can into the big can in the neighborhood, going to the grocery store etc. We were also taught that it was our responsibility to help those who couldn't help themselves whenever we could. In school and in my neighborhood, I had to help weaker kids from being persecuted by bullies. If only my parents had allowed me to go for Karate classes (they didn't), I could have done a better job with this!
- 10. Teach them to respect animals:
Our many cats and a dog were like the extended members of our family. Their tails were not to be pulled and they were to be treated with respect and loved. We were taught to go to the defense of animals who were hurt by child bullies.