#1000Speak, 1000 voices speak for compassion , is a noble initiative launched by a few bloggers where in they are bringing in 1000 or more bloggers, photographers, artists together to speak about compassion. In this highly competitive world, it is becoming more and more important that we instill the values of compassion and kindness in our kids, the future generation. A mother, a blogger puts forth her perspective and take on this. It is a much needed change of perspective that parents, educators and the society in general must take. 

A few weeks go, a dear friend voiced her disappointment over her son not getting into the middle school’s magnet program. She worried that he will get lost in the public school system, that it isn’t competitive, that eventually his grades and his success will be impacted. Her worries were justified, to some extent.

Her son’s demeanor is very much like my ten-year old. In fact they are best buddies, looking for every opportunity to spend time together.

Without sounding preachy and patronizing I went on to offer my opinion which to hers, was contrary.

Both Hubbs and I are not fans of the magnets. Period. At least not at this stage. Yes competition is important, a unified curriculum is also critical but not in elementary schools. We don’t believe in burdening our kids with unnecessary and totally avoidable pressure this early in life. We believe in exposing them to a less regimented, less structured process that allows more room for fun, creative learning than having their smarts assessed with frequent standardized tests and such. Call it the influence of many studies on this or just our basic, uncomplicated outlook, we believe in, to put it simply, letting them be. Letting them be with a lot of love, encouragement, support and guidance.

My kids get good grades, straight A’s . But this is something I rarely write about. Simply because it is secondary. Again, at this stage. To me, this is the time for instilling the values we want them to carry into the world as adults. This is the time when we talk about the importance of kindness, humility, compassion, love, honesty and all the good that is so badly needed in this world we live in. Something grades, scores and structured curricula will not help us achieve.

We go to parent teacher conferences but we are more focused on asking questions about their emotional, social development than their cognitive abilities. Do they have friends? How many? Do they hang out with the same kids? Do they help out? Do they show kindness? How? How can we get them more involved in extra curricular activities or programs that helps them become more grounded? And when the teacher shares stories of success in these areas, we know we are on the right path.

But it is a long road ahead – there is a ton to learn, much to teach or show them. Because of this seemingly cruel, complex, intolerant , apathetic world we are bringing them into. Of course there is no guarantee that instilling the right values will hold them in good stead or keep them safe. But as parents we prefer to continue on this path of learning, engaging in the most deliberate manner.

I used and still worry about how sensitive my kids are, especially my son. He is quite, reticent, laid back but is thoughtful in the most unexpected way unlike his sister who wears the badge of helpfulness on her sleeve for everyone to see. I worry about how is he going to manage his way in this cruel world. How will he survive people who are just plain vicious? But the more I look at him and his way of approaching life in general, I think he will be fine. In fact I believe his soft heart will be his ultimate trump card.  It will be his badge of courage, of compassion. Of doing the fair/right thing. Of being empathetic.

I worry about my daughter over extending herself to the point that she is perceived as being subservient. That somewhere along the way, instead of helping her develop assertiveness, I have unintentionally made her passive or docile. This is where we need to be intentional in our actions, thoughts and behaviors as parents. Yes we goof up, tremendously so. In fact if we’d get paid a dollar for every parental transgression we have committed thus far, we would be sitting on a hefty bank balance.

I have not enjoyed my role as a parent as much as I do now. We are in that phase of bantering, of having meaningful conversations on local, regional and international events, of sharing our feelings of hurt and joy with equal candor. And of course, we butt heads occasionally. I am more vocal and talkative than hubbs so I tend to engage more than him. I am also more dramatic in the way I approach some things. This is where the ever patient, practical Hubbs provides the much needed balance, perspective.

Teaching and setting the right example of compassion is something I have deliberately taken on. This may take the form of simply having a conversation with them about what is love or kindness or taking them to the local pantry to drop food off or drawing special cards for seniors during the holidays. It is a long journey, one in which the learning is often both ways. A time will come when grades, advanced placement classes, more structure/unified study formats, test scores will take precedence but for now, they aren’t our focus. And I’d like to believe that we are good.

This post has been written by our regular contributor and a dear friend, Sukanya Bora. She is a mother of two, an avid blogger, storyteller, a photographer and someone who always speaks her heart.  Her writings are a reflection of her immense love for life, respect for everything that it has to offer and her candid perspective on things that matter the most in life.