Thursday, September 27, 2007

Educating by example

Our children are what we make them out to be

An incident with my 17 year old son made me realize how little things that we often take for granted have a profound effect on the young minds of our children. It also reminded me that life is a continuous process of learning in which everyone we come across, regardless of whether he is small or big, young or old, man or woman, rich or poor, friend or foe, play an important role. We have much to learn from every one of them.

My son, a college student, frequents a small restaurant for his meals. One day the owner of the restaurant asked him whether he knew how to download and burn some songs onto a compact disc (CD).When my son admitted he knew, the gentleman requested him to burn some of his favourite songs for him. He said he would pay for it.

So my son went back and did the job. He then called me to find out how much he should charge the man for the CD.I advised that he give it for free as it the first time he had asked for such a help.The next day my son handed over the CD to the restaurant owner. He refused to accept any payment despite some persuasion by the man. The man thanked him and my son left.

A few days later my son went back to the restaurant to have his meals. He ordered the usual food. While he was having his meal a waiter sent him a large glass of fruit juice as a compliment from his boss. My son was so surprised and he happily thanked him. After the meal when he went to pay his bill the boss refused to accept payment saying that his lunch treat was in appreciation for the CD earlier.

My son was so happy that he immediately called me to relate the incident. I could sense the joy in his voice when said “I had free lunch; the restaurant owner didn’t take my money because I burnt the CD for free”.

I could not believe that a small deed like that could bring him so much happiness. Without my knowledge I had taught my son a very important lesson in life, “kindness brings happiness”. If he had collected a few ringgit for the CD from the restaurant owner, he would not have got the treat from him, and my son would not have experienced the joy of his kind act. Forgoing a ringgit could bring him the happiness which often we are not able to obtain by thousands of ringgit.

This incident may be a small one, it may not guarantee my son will grow up to be a good person, but it made me aware that as parents we have a very important role in shaping the character of our children. This can most effectively be done by our own examples not preaching. It is in little things that we can guide them to be kind, considerate and helpful to those whom they come into contact. It is in little things that we can instill the good values and morality that are so deficient in our society today.

In a world that is solely driven by materialism and consumerism,and where stiff and unhealthy competition in the norm, instilling good values in our children would go a long way to make the world a better place for all. In a multi-racial country like ours, it would particularly contribute to ethnic tolerance and integration that is so badly needed.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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