If I think about the definition of parenting, I immediately visualize a wobbly toddler, with his father walking with him step by step. As a father, I wouldn’t want anything less than seeing my own children ‘sprinting’ in society. In this regard, I cannot solely focus on reinforcing their points of strength. I must also work on their ‘wobble’, their eating habits, and the world of their intellect—how and what they learn—and how they process their emotions while they are still young.
I paid close attention to my children. Quite often, I would ask my son a question such as: “Son, do you consider food a means of entertainment, or a source of energy?” If he responded the latter, I would then ask why he continued to eat after he had consumed enough food to sustain his energy. Children tend to eat when they become bored, but if we address this matter when they are young, we can set the building blocks for their future.
Being Attentive To Our Children
Understanding the reason behind our children’s behavior is a skill that we need to master. It’s similar to the days when there were paperboys that delivered newspapers on their bicycles. They would personally go to each house to collect dues for the paper. Like the paperboys, we need to hop off our bikes and walk right to the doorstep of our children’s houses. We need to be attentive to our little ones, about their motivations and how their growing minds function. We also need to teach them and help them understand and process unfortunate events, such as a loved one's passing.
Setting The Primary Example
I realized, during my teachings with my children, that although I had been trying to get my children to quit a certain habit; I was not being consistent in my own habits, whether good or bad. I decided I would stop criticizing my children on their habits for a while, until I myself could learn about taking up and quitting habits. My self-education, then becomes my theoretical bicycle that takes me right to their doors. In other words, I would fix my own ‘wobble’ first before targeting my children’s.
I came to realize that child rearing is no easy task. It isn’t synonymous with giving general advice, or some cliché quotes. I cannot be blind to my own personal corruption, which would make me fall short of my target in this life—being a link in the chain of good people.
I don’t mind if my children watch entertaining television shows and the nonsense of some social media stars. However, I would have a serious problem if this were all they did all the time.
While we are at the table for lunch or dinner, I tell them:
“If we resurrected one of those devoted chemists or physicists of old times and showed him how to surf the web in our 21st century, I don’t think he would even talk to us anymore. He would sail in this endless ocean of knowledge. If we gave him access to Google Scholar, with its wealth of research articles and e-books, we might be found guilty of disrupting the normal balance of his life. He would probably forget about the physical food and drink during his efforts to quench his thirst for knowledge. Whenever we tell him he should eat something, he won’t be able to help recalling the many journeys he made during his pursuit of knowledge, probably with having been robbed during those journeys. But now, after having all the knowledge that he needs in one place, will he just put it aside to go and eat something?”
My gentle supervision of my children’s ‘wobble’ is continuous. Their minds are seeking the greater value in things, while I am simultaneously trying to reveal the futility of trivial, material, possessions.
So, here I am, writing down my personal experiences and struggles in this article, not as a way of complaining, but because, as the Arabs say:
"The reward of parents is paradise.”
A parent doesn’t receive any thanks for raising their children. However, my question for the condition of today’s newest generation is: “Who is taking care of their own ‘wobble’ first?”