There are many differences between children raised in America and children raised in other parts in the world. But there’s one aspect in raising children that most people believe comes from the home and not the country the child lives in. Manners. However, in a recent visit to Palestine, I couldn’t help but notice that well-raised children have better manners than well-raised children in America. When I say well-raised I refer to children that come from a nurturing and caring home environment with parents that serve as good role models for their children.
During meal time, they make sure that they are last to sit on the table. If an elder walks into the room, they quickly get up and offer their chair over and provide a clean plate in an instant.
The children- from toddlers to young adults- have the upmost respect for their parents and elders. They kiss the hand of their grandparents each time they enter or leave the home- even if it’s more than once a day. They never talk back, even if they’re not in fault. When someone (anyone) walks into the house with bags in his/her hands, the children rush to help the person out with the bags.
A child is asked to do something – whether as simple as taking the trash out or as more involved as delivering and picking something up from a local supermarket. These responsible children I’m referring to are as young as 4 and 5 year olds. On my last day there, I realized I was running out of diapers. I asked some relative (young kids) to go buy a bag of pampers and something for themselves with the change. They returned with my change and bag of pampers. I insisted that they go back and buy something for themselves but they kindly refused.
These types of manners, as well as many more, can be taught in homes, but I think much more is involved. These behaviors need to modeled every single day- which isn’t too easy in a society that we live in here in the states. The T.V. definitely doesn’t portray these behaviors, and the many of the kids in the neighborhoods and schools probably don’t either.
My son is just over a year old, but I think about how I want him raised on a regular basis. How do I raise him the best he can possibly be? Although raising children was never said to be easy, it sure seemed like it overseas. Perhaps summer visits to reinforce what’s taught will help? As our prophet (PBUH) taught us, “Laysa minna man la yaHtarem kabeeruna wa yarHam sagheruna” (He is not from us if he does not respect his elder and show mercy to the younger). May Allah help us in raising our children the way Islam teaches.
Hoda is a wife and a mother to a stillborn daughter in heaven and a one year old son. She is an elementary public school teacher and lives in Virginia.