Suffering Children's Support Day - February 13th - that is one day before Valentine's day.
February 13 th is being observed as the World Suffering Children Support Day. This day marks an occasion for normal fortunate children across the world to spare at least half an hour to just think about the less fortunate children across globe. This less fortunate child need not be a some kid in a poor country in Africa. It can be a child born with some deficiency in a wealthy American family.
Do you think your child of 5 years or even 10 years old going to think of a kid in Africa on the eve of a much anticipated Valentine's day party in school? He or she must be busy making cards and breaking head as to what to write on the card. It is outrageous. But that is true. This society is injecting, what should have been a strictly adult and sexual topic, Valentine's day in to the brains of , yet to mature - socially, emotionally and psychologically - very young kids. The sad thing is that the schools are celebrating it as a ritual and asking every one to bring Valentine's cards.I have a first grader at home who is going to celebrate her Valentine's day on 14th. Teacher asked all the kids to bring cards for all other kids in the class - which may look like a good approach - as no kid in the class has to go home in the evening with a hurt feeling. Yet, I was shocked to see my six year old making selective cards and selective wordings on her cards. Is it really necessary to force a young kid to think of an adult topic? Why would any school encourage the celebration of this day? What is it trying to teach the kids? I asked my child : "What do you mean when you wrote 'Be my Valentine ' on the card?" She replied : "I don't know." Then I asked :"Why did you write 'Be my Valentine' to only for some people and just plain 'Happy Valentine's day' for some other people?" . Again answer was : " I don't know". She is right , she really doesn't know in her conscious mind. But her unconscious mind has worked extra time profiling the fellow 6 year olds in her class "I like him/her" category, "I hate him/her" category, " I'm jealous of him/her" category , "I love him/her" category. Was all these needed ? We - school/society/parents -have forced this upon a 6 year old.
I truly admire the boldness of the Principal of this British school who banned Valentine's day celebration in her school. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/relationships/valentines-day/7206374/School-bans-Valentines-Day-cards.html The reason given by the principal? Young kids spend too much time speaking about boy friends and girl friends. Ashcombe Primary School in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, has told parents that cards declaring love can be 'confusing' for children under the age of 11, who are still emotionally and socially developing. Principal Peter Terner says "We believe that such ideas should wait until children are mature enough emotionally and socially to understand the commitment involved in having or being a boyfriend or girlfriend." The principal is hundred percent correct. I wonder when will the US schools and principals take such a bold stand.
Here is another article from familyeducation.com . Carleton Kendrick Ed.M, LCSW has written this article mainly from a point of view that it creates unnecessary broken hearts in elementary classes. href=http://fun.familyeducation.com/valentines-day/rejection/35298.html . She is making some good suggestions like " Let elementary school students make homemade valentines and bring them to a family shelter or a children's hospital. Middle-schoolers and high- schoolers can buy flowers, candy or teddy bears as a fundraiser and distribute them at area food pantries, nursing homes and hospices." I wish at least some of my area schools follow these suggestions.
Read another interesting article "The travesty of elementary-school valentines". By Moira Redmond here : href=http://www.slate.com/id/2061678/
Ok, now, what am I going to do? Write innumerable letters to teachers and principals and district superintendents to ban Valentine's day in elementary schools? May be , may be not. May be later, after discussing with some other parents and child experts. But I can't wait for the change to happen. I want change now. If there is anything good in Valentine's day it is LOVE. In the adult world, it is PERSONAL LOVE, which is fine. For the younger kids let us take the LOVE part of Valentine and make it a collective or group activity of showing LOVE or affection or kindness to the unfortunate kids in the world , instead of a meaningless 'be my valnetine' card to all the boys and girls sitting next to one in the class.
One problem for the kids growing up in the affluent families /societies in the world - be it US or Europe or middle east or India - is that the kids never get to know the hardships or the sufferings. Everything is taken care for them. As parents every one want to provide the best to their wards. They live in the world of Wiis and play stations and ipads. They don't know the sufferings of other kids in another part of the world or may be in their own city. Many parents never bother to discuss or expose these real life hardships to the kids. Kids grow up in a perfect world. These nonsense celebrations like Valentine's day's are an extension of those unrealistic perfect fun filled world parents and affluent society at large creating for their kids. Our kids growing up with a myopic view of the world out there can't be leaders of tomorrow.
So here I'm, going to declare, every year, 13th February ( day before Valentine's day ) to be World Suffering Children's Support Day. Who am " I " to declare this? It doesn't matter. Only the objective matters. Don't wait for change. Change happens with you. Change begins from your own family.
As a humble beginning, I'm going to sit with my two kids for one hour on 13th exclusively talking and discussing about the sufferings children across the world goes through. I will show them some pictures and some videos of real suffering kids. I'll ask them to make a small speech. I'll ask them how they can help these kids . I'll ask them if they would like to make any money contribution from their piggy bank to show their support. I'll ask them to make a 'be our valentine- we love you' card to a suffering kid in the pictures/videos and hand it over whenever they meet one.
Are you still skeptical? Let me tell you , start observing the Sufferings Support day. Even if your kid doesn't like or genuinely support or participate for the cause, the revelation about the sufferings about millions of kids in the world will make your kids better appreciate all the things you are providing to them which they take for granted. Personally, I bring up my kids rooted in reality and they are really good with maturing perspective matching their age. However, I need to take action to subjugate the nonsense influences of the society -like Valentine's day - as they grow up.
Let us celebrate Valentine's day with our kids , one day earlier.Have a smile.
Thanks, Vinod Preet,NY
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