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On Parenting: Where Do We Go Wrong?

Have You Ever Watched Your Kid’s Favorite Cartoon?
By Raudah Mohd Yunus
Freelance Writer- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
cutekidswith theQuran
At a tender age, children with their innocence have wild imagination and fantasy.

My nearly three-year-old daughter loves to watch the ‘Dibo’ cartoon series. At first glance, it’s innocent enough. But one day when I spent some time to watch it with her, my heart was suddenly gripped with fear.

Dibo is a cheerful, wonderful dragon who lives in Cozy Land with her friends Elo (elephant), Bunny (rabbit), Annie (girly doll) and crow (crow). Each of Dibo’s friends has characteristic features making them unique and interesting to watch. But Dibo is different from all, in the sense that he is a ‘gift dragon’, which means whatever his friends wish for, Dibo can fulfill their wishes if they only mention the magic words.

So whenever any of the mentioned character faces a problem, he/she comes to Dibo and makes a wish, and, ta-da! Dibo will then take out a ‘gift’ from his magic pocket… and solve the problem.

I certainly do not want my child to think that something or someone on earth with such ability exists, other than God Himself. At a tender age, children with their innocence have wild imagination and fantasy. What they see and hear surely affects their imagination and understanding of the world either now or at a later age.

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Or these fantasies may turn into subconscious thoughts which will manifest later in life. To think that some apparently innocent cartoons can negatively harm our children’s thinking process may sound a bit far-fetched and paranoid.

However, not to mention many research findings about how unhealthy cartoons pollute children’s minds, as parents we need to be sensitive about the ingredients we use to bring our children up.

Good food is not enough, for it only contributes to physical health; rather what is more important is to nourish our children’s minds and souls.

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The issue here is how the investment parents put in their children, is often imbalanced.

Parents’ Investment: How Balanced?

Unlike in the past, parenting today has become a skill that needs to be learnt by modern guardians. Life in today’s world has become so complex that most parents feel they are unable to provide enough for their children, despite all the advanced technologies and wealth.

As the result, parents are falsely led to become desperate to send their kids to the most posh schools they can think of, make them wear elegant school uniforms and go to extracurricular programs like swimming classes, piano/violin classes, and so forth.

Some start saving for their children’s education at a very early stage, and often pay huge sum of money for educational insurance, to secure their children a place at Oxford or Harvard or Princeton or Yale, or its equivalence.

Their only dream is to become proud parents one day by seeing their children on top of the world, having the best of everything.

There is definitely nothing wrong in investing financially for our children’s future or planning their education wisely. In fact, that’s a commendable act and, as parents, this is simply a proof of their unconditional love for the children.

The issue here is how the investment parents put in their children, is often imbalanced.

Most are careful about making their children educated and rich, but forget to mould them into proper human beings with moral and religious values.

Falling prey to the philosophy of the modern world which worships material and promotes addiction to comfort, parents tend to think that children’s most important aim in life is to become materially successful.

They need to own health, status, fame and wealth. All these are equivalent to true success, and nothing else. Some parents go to a further extreme by making their children speak a different language they believe is superior, adopt an alien culture and lifestyle, and  even desperately send them to another country so that these children can grow up to be like the people they deem better, and more successful.

This is mainly the case with the western ideas, lifestyle and countries.

Then Parents Suffer Loneliness

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Just imagine the amount of pain and heartache a mother feels when after decades of raising up a child with so much dream and hope, she finally finds herself disillusioned, and betrayed.

Recalling my experience working in the geriatric ward during my internship years, I met and spoke with many elderly parents who, towards the end of their lives, suffered from loneliness.

They are ignored by their children who are presently, I could say, ‘on top of the world’. These parents tearfully talked about how much love they have for, and pride they felt in, their children. But after all the money spent and effort gone, they were cruelly abandoned.

The standard excuse was commitment with daily work and devotion to career and responsibilities towards nuclear family members. Most of these poor geriatric patients who complained, I realized later, did a great job in nourishing their children’s physical and material need.

Unfortunately, their investment was highly off balance. Too much effort and attention was put into material education and bodily needs while the souls and hearts were forgotten.

Later, when I got the chance to see these ‘children’, they did appear cold and callous. Some came to visit occasionally, just to see the old parents and left without a word, and without even touching their old, dry hands which once held them with utmost tenderness.

Some came just to send maids. And some admitted their guilt, but nonetheless were unable to do anything about it.

Almost all these individuals were highly educated, and possess immense wealth. Partly due to their parents’ hard work and effort, which they had forgotten. But because of whom they had become, and who their own parents turned them into, life became hell for the poor parents despite achieving what they had been dreaming of.

Just imagine the amount of pain and heartache a mother feels when after decades of raising up a child with so much dream and hope, she finally finds herself disillusioned, and betrayed.

Stories…

readingforyourkidsandhelpingthem
The aim of this article is not to discourage women from working or to make working mothers feel bad. Rather I simply want to encourage parents to take an active role in their children’s lives. How it is done depends fully on parents’ creative arrangements.

To avoid falling into the same trap, parents need to understand the importance of faith in God, values and moral principles. In the context of today’s world, formal education and morality have become two separate entities, hence the rampant moral bankruptcy despite advanced level of education humankind has achieved.

Good values have to be inculcated early and reinforced from time to time. Close relationship between parents and children creates unconditional love and mutual respect, and this is how kids will grow to always be part of their parents, instead of distancing themselves away.

Every day I hear stories of parents who are so worried about material concerns regarding their children: which school they go to, what they wear, who they marry (whether the spouses are rich) and how much money they make. When I look at the children, I can only gasp and shake my head. They do not even fit into the least criteria of decency.

This means all this while their parents have been generously spending money to nourish their bodies and brains but not their hearts and souls. I dread to predict the fate of these people. Unless they realize their mistakes and revert early, the sad ending may be inevitable.

On the other hand, there are some amazing stories which must be shared. I also came across parents, who out of their great concern and love for their children, migrated to another country and left part of their wealth just to ensure a better and healthier environment for them to grow up.

A friend of mine, who had settled down in a highly developed country with her husband and children, and was enjoying wealth, comfort and good career prospect decided to move to another country. They knew that there would be less comfort and less chance of making money; however, they were more concerned about how their kids would grow up, what they would see and hear.

In a typical western society where sexual permissiveness and moral decadence is prevalent, such parents should be highly saluted for their sacrifice and devotion to the spiritual growth of their children.

Another friend who took the same path, when asked, simply said that she did not want to lose her children when they reached eighteen, a common phenomenon seen in the west where many teenagers leave home at the age of eighteen to venture into adult life. What impresses me most, besides these great parents making huge material sacrifice, is the fact that the mothers are educated and not the typical imagined women without proper qualification, who stayed at home because they have no other choice. They do have choices, and they chose to be there for their children.

One of the abovementioned mothers has a master’s degree and yet she has opted to stay at home and homeschool her children!

The aim of this article is not to discourage women from working or to make working mothers feel bad. Rather I simply want to encourage parents to take an active role in their children’s lives. How it is done depends fully on parents’ creative arrangements.

Again, as I said before, parents need to strike a balance in their investment, that is, their children. Every parent dreams of good schools, successful careers and financial stability for their kids, but let these dreams not be the main goals set for them in life.

What’s more essential is the strong bond of love in the family, children taking parents as role models and beautiful values that children will inherit from them.

Parents have to take the lead in molding their kids into wise and noble human beings who possess not only the needed knowledge to excel in this competitive world but also self-esteem and faith in God.

Again With Dibo

Coming back to the question of ‘Dibo’, I strongly suggest that parents should always be aware of what their children watch and hear. Cartoons and other forms of entertainment for children should be directed to educate the minds and instill moral values and not simply for empty fun.

This way, we teach our young generation that everything in life, including elements associated with achieving pleasure should always come with moral values and responsibility.

As for me personally, watching ‘Dibo the Gift Dragon’ creates two alarms: First, I do not want my children to think that such character exists other than God.

Second, that they cannot expect to have their every wish fulfilled in this world, like how Bunny’s, Annie’s, Crow’s and Elo’s demands are always met in Cozy Land.

Surely my children need to understand that this world is a life of test and eternal happiness is only possible in life hereafter. And that can only be achieved with a life of faith, righteousness and perseverance.

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