I recently became a dad for the first time. Dad to a cute, cuddly, extremely expressive little boy whom we named Nivaan Nair.
I always envisioned what I would do as a father way before I actually got married and could have legal kids of my own. In fact, I looked forward to being a father as much as I wanted to have a meaningful relationship to balance out my life.
I guess this was mainly due to the fact that I lost my father at the age of 15 and often felt the void during my growing up years. I so desperately wanted to ensure that the same does not happen to my children although the circle of life is not something I have control of.
When I got to know that my wife was expecting a boy, I was over the moon. Not due to the typical South East Asian bias towards male offspring but the fact that my first experience as a father would be easier as I would be able to relate to him more. Even if it was a little baby girl growing inside my wife’s womb, I would have been equally ecstatic and would have tried to connect with my feminine side a lot more.
Now that my baby boy is growing, I decided that it’s high time I formulate some core values that I want to inculcate in my son from his early days itself. It took me a few weeks to pen down those values without being preachy or without a suitable explanation. Finally I managed to get a few in place after much deliberation.
- Do things because it makes sense, not because some religious book tells you.
Things like humanity, love, compassion, respect, decency, honesty etc. are core values that should be part of a person regardless of what school of thought you choose to subscribe to growing up. Help those in need because it is the right thing to do, not because it is written in the Quran. Protect the weak because it is a moral responsibility, not because the Bhagavad Gita proposes it. Don’t lie, cheat or steal because it is wrong and not because the Bible condemns it.
If one has to turn to a religion to tell us the difference between right or wrong, we are not tapping into our intrinsic human capabilities that has been honed through years of evolution. Feel free to follow the religion of your choice but we need to develop our own moral compass based on our personal understanding of “human” values because eventually YOU and only you are responsible for your actions, not the author of your preferred book.
- Be brave enough to question anything and everyone (Including me!).
Ask questions. Demand answers. There is no shame in wanting to know why exactly something is done in a particular way or why we are required to conform to existing practices in the world. Taking an informed decision is far more honorable and intelligent than just “blending in”.
Not everyone will be able to provide us with answers because they might not know better. This does not stop us from finding the answers on our own. There will be people who demand complete and absolute obedience… they are not worth your time. Be strong and brave when you do ask questions, not everyone appreciates this. Just remember one thing… Ask questions to better yourself not to belittle others. No shame in admitting we don’t know.
- Be proud of what you have achieved, not of what has been given or handed out to you.
As we grow up, there are things we start taking unnecessary pride in… Our family heritage, our nationality, the color of our passport, the material wealth we grow up in etc. None of these are our achievements, it only happened by chance. Anything we are born into is not our achievement. If it is not your achievement, please don’t thump your chest about it… It could have so easily not been yours.
Our personality and character are completely under our control despite what others might say. Impress others with your personality rather than your inheritance. Feel pride when someone compliments you on your soundness of character rather than the legacy associated with it.
I would rather have my son be proud of his victory in the 3 legged race at age 3 rather than the car his father drives. We need to compete with our peers on our personal achievements rather than what our forefathers handed out to us or on things that were generally not in our control. Acknowledging our origins, family, nationality, culture is one thing… but using it as a medium for one-upmanship is plain deplorable.
- Life is not easy. If it seems easy… raise your standards.
To quote Rocky Balboa (I will make sure he watches the whole series with me), “Life is not all sunshine and rainbows”. Life is not meant to be easy. It is meant to push us to its limits and extract our complete potential. It is meant to be the grinding stone that chips away and grinds us to be able to shine as brightly as possible. If we do not find it tough, it means we are not challenging ourselves enough. It means we are just “existing”… not “living”.
We need to challenge ourselves to be better. We need to constantly raise our standards to do better in our professional and personal lives. Experiment. Fail. Repeat. We need to keep reinventing ourselves to explore new ways of being a better human being in all walks of life. When we reach our benchmark, we need to raise the bar higher. Real happiness comes when we constantly reach our benchmarks not when we settle for them.
- Respect is earned… not inherited.
We need to live our life in a way that everyone looks up to us with respect. True respect cannot be demanded, forced or coerced. It is earned. It is earned by our actions, thoughts and values. Earning the respect of our fellow human beings is something that SHOULD be a by-product of how we conduct ourselves on a personal and professional level. If one has to work exclusively for earning this respect, something is wrong somewhere.
One should never do anything that makes us fall in our own eyes. Self-Respect is one of the most important emotions that a person needs to hold in highest regard. If we cannot respect ourselves for something we did or said, rest assured, no one will.
All these are values I hope he embraces. I consider it my duty as a parent to imbibe them in my son and future offspring. As we both grow older, there will be plenty more I would add to this list.
Hey… Am new at this as well!!
One thing is certain… There are is one quote that I will hang next to his bed once he can start reading –
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson.