I was born in Iran and moved to California when I was 5. My parents raised me in a rich Persian environment...surrounding me with the language, food, music, friends. My mother began giving me Farsi lessons when I was 8. If it weren't for her, I would not be able to read and write in my native language today! Despite that, I found myself becoming more Americanized every day. I was always, however, expected to demonstrate high moral standards.
Today, I'm raising 3 daughters with my American husband. My regret is that I did not continue speaking Farsi with my children. I got out of the habit when they were 3. Now, my 11 and 9 year old are in their second year of Farsi classes, graduating from book 1 tomorrow!
I try to recount stories about my past, ancestors and traditions to my children often and tell them how I would love to take them back to the land of my birth someday. I believe with all my heart that my children's lives are enriched by being bicultural. My challenge as their mother is letting them develop into their own spirit without compromising our values and standards. I feel I can offer them the best of both worlds-Iranian and Western. My wish is that they grow up to be prejudice-free, self-confident and a service to humanity.
What I meant by that comment was that I don't want to be the kind of parent who is constantly squelching my children. They are each unique and have characteristics that set them apart from their siblings as well as my husband and myself. I need to find the balance between letting them develop into their own personalities but at the same time, practicing self-control, obedience, courtesy...
Something which we have incorportated into our family routine is "Family Nights". Sunday evenings, we introduce a virtue to the children, for example self-confidence or compassion. We read from The Virtues Guide about what this specific virtue would look like, in other words, how does one recognize that it is being practiced. We discuss different ways we can demonstrate this virtue in our day to day lives. Then we ask the children to be conscious of this during the week and my husband and I try to acknowledge them when we see that they are indeed practicing this virtue. After this discussion, we play a game, sing songs or go on an outing. The children have come to look forward to this evening each week and remind us of it, if we forget.
This is one way, I find, that reinforces the qualities we think are important to be a civilized human being and it also strengthens the bond between us as parents and children.
My children are as different as they can be from one another. One is highly artistic, very generous and has an impeccable memory. Another is very quiet, would rather spend all her free time reading, is extremely loving and an avid athlete. The other is extremely self-confident, very sensitive, bold and verbally gifted. My job is to enhance these qualities and help direct them in a positive way. As long as they are not harming themselves, others or the environment in any way, I'm going to try and let them be. My job as a parent is to guide them in the right direction just as a gardener guides his tender plants to grow in the best way possible. Guidelines will vary, perhaps, from family to family. But I believe that most of humanity is capable of living by some general code of ehtics.