RE: “Do away with homework and don’t be too religious with the children” (The New Times, September 24). More food for thought; let me start by saying that I do not pretend to be the best father, or to have the answers to the mystery of raising children. I do have some experience and believe that I have learned from my mistakes.
Children learn from example, they often reflect their parents’ views and habits. Children whose parents show an interest in culture and learning will be more inclined to study and educate themselves because they want to do what Daddy or Mommy does.
After raising two children to adulthood in the US and having three school-age children with my new wife in Rwanda, I have made some discoveries. My two grown children have followed in their parents’ footsteps in their interest in acquiring knowledge even after finishing school. One of my Rwandan children was a below average student and had no male role model to follow, but in the past five years he has blossomed to become an above average student, showing much interest in learning new things with me.
Statistics can be made to reflect anything we want even when they appear not to be skewed and I still believe that homework supervised by a parent are beneficial to children of all ages.
As for religion, I believe that there is a difference between faith and religion and that difference impacts how they act.
Simple examples are plain to see: Americans are, for the most part, religious people and many actively practice their faith; Europeans are, by and large, not religious and yet fewer live by their faith. When it comes to giving to others, Americans give far more than their European counterparts as a per capita, based on average income (Forbes survey, Johns Hopkins comparative charity studies).
Altruism is learned from our parents, mentors and faith although some altruists have no parents and no faith. Children, on average, act based on what they are taught, this is true not only of kindness and generosity, but also of racism, patriotism and many other things.
The answer? Raise your children to respect themselves and others with or without faith and teach them all you can as often as you can’t regardless of their age. Maybe they will become good citizens, respectful of the world and people around them, appreciate what they are given and never forget the less fortunate.
To The New Times, thanks for the article.