I often worry that my children are growing up in an entitled world, not realizing how fortunate they are. Like any nurturing parent, I want my kids to grow up to be caring and compassionate human beings, but figuring out how to teach those values to young kids can be a daunting task. We want the kids to be both emotionally and intellectually intelligent, which is one of the reasons why we chose to enroll our kids in the Catholic education system, where values based education is a strong focus.
I grew up in the Middle East and in South Asia, where poverty can be seen in many forms on a daily basis, and so I knew at a very young age that I was in a fortunate situation. Mind you, I was still a brat sometimes and harboured a fair bit of entitlement, but I always had relatives and teachers in my life who helped me to develop a positive attitude.
Raising us in Dubai, my parents ensured that my brother and I volunteered our time at school fairs and at Sunday School events. They would also take us to hospitals and orphanages during our annual family vacations in Sri Lanka, where I recall sharing my books and candies with young kids at the orphanage and visiting hospitals to donate wheelchairs to patients who couldn’t afford to buy one on their own. During my early teen years, I was uncomfortable with the idea that we were more fortunate than those we visited but I gradually started to see the difference we were making. Helping those in need and actually putting into practice what I was learning in school definitely helped me to become a relatively compassionate human being.
Do you remember how we took Little Monkey out of school for an early Christmas holiday and visited Sri Lanka? One of the things I really wanted to do was to help Little Monkey put into practice what was being taught to her at school; sharing, being selfless and being empathetic. We love exploring new cultures and one reason for these journeys is to teach our kids that not everyone is as fortunate. I wanted to show Little Monkey and Baby Boy how others live and that not every child has access to books, let alone iPads and boxes of toys. Unfortunately, we did not get to visit an orphanage but we did travel with bags of candy and some pencils. Originally I had thought that the candy would be a great way for the kids to make new friends but I soon realized that the candy was teaching Little Monkey so much more.
After three weeks of giving away her favourite candies, Little Monkey turned around one day and said “it’s good to share because in school we are told we should be kind to people…even if we don’t know them. It makes me happy”. Christian values, such as treating your neighbours with kindness and being open to new customs and people, are not something that only teachers pass along. As parents, we too can help put to practice what is taught at school. Sure, the kids are learning the alphabet and discovering numbers but it’s the values being passed on that I treasure the most.
I guess I didn’t have to worry too much about her growing up in a bubble because the Catholic education system is teaching her (like it taught me!) that we must care for those around us and that we’re responsible not only for ourselves but also our community. When her teacher, Mr. Murphy, gave us the books for her to do some homework during that holiday, he mentioned that this trip will be great for her. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was referring to the fact that she will see how others live. I’m grateful that my daughter’s teachers are helping her become a well rounded adult. Values are hard to teach and having a community of educators who practice what they preach and set a good example for their pupils is a big benefit of the Catholic School system. I mean, how amazing would it be if Little Monkey grows up to be like Cheryl below?
During our current #MurphysDo148Days adventure, we’ve seen a fair bit of poverty. Seeing parents with small children begging on the street is really hard. We’ve done our best to make a difference where we can. Once, the kids asked if we could buy extra groceries to pass on to a needy family outside of a Marrakesh grocery store. I made it a point to buy fruits, dairy and some bread, but Little Monkey reminded me that perhaps they’d like a treat too, since the three kids were all under 10 years of age.
Once we return to Canada and both kids head back to school, I know that the Catholic teachers will continue to teach my kids the importance of being tolerant and kind to those around them. Catholic teachers make values such as fairness, compassion, respect, concern for social justice, and the environment a priority in their classroom and all of us benefit from this approach. If you’re looking to learn more about the ways Catholic school teachers are making a difference and teaching kids important life lessons, check out this link, which outlines their focus on the future of our little ones.
Disclosure : This post is part of the YummyMummyClub and Ontario’s Catholic Teachers #CatholicTeachers sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. As always, opinions are TOTALLY ours!