Where do I start? I belong to a family of five siblings including myself. My eldest sister got married at a very early age, I was barely 10. Surrounded by three rowdy boys, I became a tomboy. The only difference was my parents instilled manners in me and skipped teaching manners to the boys.
I had made myself a promise when I was growing up. That if and when I had a child, be it a girl or a boy, he would be taught love, respect, and pride in what he is. Hard, I know. But I wanted to do whatever I could for my child, that was done for me.
Years passed, and I turned 21. I got married. My husband and I gave ourselves three and a half years, up until I graduated with my law degree to plan a family.
I was 25 when we had our son, Zaviyar. We made it a point to teach him everything we both were taught to become a good human being. I got lucky that his father turned out to be the most gentle soul, who barely ever gets angry, who is patient, and who is caring. This helped us a lot in molding our son.
The use of “Please”, “Thank you”, “You’re welcome”, and “Sorry” became a staple in our conversations. We made sure to use those words for him so he knew exactly when and why to use them.
I realized over the years how important it is to raise a gentle, considerate soul. Boys generally are rowdy; they’re hyperactive, and just all over the place. Since we only planned on having one child (reasons are personal), we made it a point to raise him like his father, a gentleman.
What you see in a child’s attitude says a lot about how the parents have raised him. And when from time and time again we would get feedback from his teachers talking highly about how he is full of manners, it made us gloat with pride.
The only thing I observed was, that no matter how many mistakes he made, we let him make them, and then made it a point that those mistakes would be turned into lessons. He’s 4 years old now and I take great pride in what he has become. He’s been taught to respect everyone, rich or poor, the abled and disabled, however different people may be.
He’s been surrounded by women in the house, I have Mashallah five girls, they are my house help. He calls them his Apis, and he addresses them as “aap”. He treats them with respect knowing they will reciprocate with the same.
We also made sure to tell him how to be balanced. In the world that we are living in right now, people take great advantage of people who are kind and giving. He knows that if he isn’t pleased with something or someone he can address his concern to us, and we try our level best to deal with his concerns in a very civil manner.
Over the years he’s come across friends who are aggressive, ill-mannered, and even rude. He knows the difference between him and them, and it gives me great happiness when, instead of tackling them with force, he uses love, he uses his words, and he corrects them.
I understand how sometimes in joint families, other kids aren’t taught the same manners and have different boundaries, which in turn makes the kids question their parents as to why they’re not allowed to do the same things their cousins are doing. But it is your job to repeatedly teach them. You are your child’s first teacher. You are your child’s inspiration. Children are extremely observant and I feel that much of the way he is, is because he sees his parents behaving in a good manner, which encourages him to do the same.
I just hope and pray that every parent realizes this, and makes the effort to reform their children, to make them as kind and humane as possible. So that one day when they grow up and treat people with respect, it makes you swell up with pride, because you did it. It was all your teaching.
- Raising Gentlemen: From the Diary of a Funny Woman - September 9, 2020