As the world tends to globalize and we increasingly get exposed to the outer world, I feel we get more and more disconnected with our roots. So on Day 18 of the #blogchatterA2Z challenge, let’s discuss R for Remembering our Roots. I sometimes get especially concerned as my son knows more about Greek or Roman mythology than the Indian mythology, more about the World Wars than the Indian Independence struggle, writes better in English than Hindi and so on. Of course, mainly this is because of what we have exposed him to as parents but a lot of it is also due to the kind of options available.
But even before we talk about the history and culture of the country, one needs to know their family roots and values. Remembering who we are and where we came from is an essential part of our being. This is what keeps us rooted to the ground when we fly too high with success and keeps us standing when we are in danger of drowning due to hardships. Strong roots also help to give a sense of identity.
Having said that, I also understand that it is a complex task to teach children about their heritage and traditions that we would like them to continue and balance those with the traditions and way of life they are growing up with.
Let’s explore some ways in which we can help imbibe a sense of belonging in our children and deepen their roots:
- Make a family tree: this is one of the best ways to familiarise your children with their extended family. It is one of the first projects that is done in pre school or early grades. It is a fun activity and helps children to know more about their family members.
- Encourage spending time with family members: some of my fondest memories are from summer holiday visits to my cousins. And not only memories, some of our strongest bonds were forged because we met our cousins regularly. I also remember celebrating every birthday and festival with my uncle’s family as we lived in the same city. These experiences give a strong sense of belonging and kinship. I believe we must continue to meet and celebrate with family as much as possible and help our children connect with them. With increasing technological solutions, it has become easier than ever to remain connected.
- Tell them stories of your family and ancestors: we have all grown up listening to family stories and laughed at the anecdotes or felt proud of our family members and ancestors. Every family has stories that are passed down generations and repeated at all family events. These memories and anecdotes bring the family together in a way nothing else can. They preserve a family’s collective pride or history and sometimes even horrors or struggles of a tough past. Sharing these stories will give a strong sense of identity to your children and give them a sense of where they came from.
- Keep the language alive: increasingly universal languages like English, Russian, French, Spanish etc. are getting greater importance as children grow up into an interconnected world. Native languages often take a backseat. However, being bilingual or multilingual has many advantages and help children to remain connected to their culture and family history.
- Celebrate festivals and holidays: I absolutely adore the colorful festivals of India and love to share about them with people from other countries. And now that I am living in Kazakhstan and getting exposed to Central Asian culture, I have started to enjoy the various festivals that are celebrated there. Celebrate festivals with your children – there is a wealth of stories that come with each festival – share those with them. Then there is usually special cuisine related to the festival and dressing up. Enjoy that with the kids, tell them the history behind these days and these will be rooted in their memories forever.
- Encourage them to learn their country’s history: even though this may be taught in school at some point, as a parent, introduce your children to the country’s history in fun ways. Take them to museums, buy them historical storybooks and show them shows based on the history of your country. Now that my son is being schooled outside India, I have bought some books on Indian history for him so that he doesn’t lose touch with India’s history.
- Encourage them to appreciate other cultures: while we teach our children to understand and appreciate their own cultures, at the same time it is very important to inculcate in them an appreciation of other countries, cultures and religions. Expose them to other countries – through travel or TV or books, eat different cuisines, learn about different festivals. Instill in them the importance of diversity and get them ready to become a global citizen.
Finally, I believe the deeper a tree’s roots go, the stronger it will become. Same applies to our children. Do let me know what you think.
Read my other blogs on the series here: