By Reem Sharaf

We are in a bewildering time; a time in which hate, bigotry, oppression, discrimination, and violence is widespread. As adults we reflect on these times and worry about the future and what it holds in store for us. We wish for change and wonder how to initiate it. At the center of all this, our children listen and watch. They hear what we do not say and see what we try to hide. As a mother to a young child, I worry about my daughter and hope she never has to face this negativity. We try to protect our children as much as we can by sheltering them from the hate all around but in reality, we are leaving them helpless in the face of it. How can we explain this to our children and prepare them to face the negativity in the world?         

The answer is by being model adults and proactive parents. The six steps for being model parents:

1- Be open and honest

The first step in addressing a concern or solving a problem is acknowledging it. Have an open, loving, and supportive discussion with your children about the current times. Ask them what they know, what they think, and how they feel about the situation. Apply discretion when needed but be honest when discussing difficult topics. We may think our children don’t know things or don’t want to talk, but they do. Let them know they can come to you anytime if they want to talk or are confused, scared, or sad.

2- Recognize differences

Differences are not bad. A lot of times we try to send a positive message by saying “we are all the same” and emphasizing our similarities but the problem that causes is it makes differences seem “negative”. We should instead, recognize and teach our children that differences are what make humanity unique. People are different and that difference is positive. We need to teach our children to be comfortable with what makes them unique and different. Only then will they recognize the beauty in diversity and understand that our diversity is what makes us one unit: one humanity.

3- Challenge intolerance within yourself

We need to reflect upon your own lives and search for the biases we may have. Our children need to see us modeling the values we teach them. Who we love, who we hate, who we talk to, and who we ignore are people and groups we are asking our children to choose between. Instead, we should educate and expose ourselves and our children to people from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences.

4- Focus on the positives

For every negative moment, there is a positive one. These times have brought out the worst in people and because of that it has also brought out the best. Following every challenging moment, there is at least one person who is writing to legislators, protesting, and spreading a message of love and tolerance. We need to recognize those positives and reward our children for every positive word, behavior, and value they spread. The more we focus on the good, the less intimidating the bad will be for our children.    

5- Lead by Example

The biggest and most important step for being model adults is leading by example. Action speaks louder than words especially to our children who listen and watch our every move. We need to stand up to bullying and injustice no matter how small, challenge stereotypes, and encourage our kids not to be bystanders, but to take action against any oppression.

6- Have faith and patience

We need to have faith. We need to believe that everything has a purpose and happens for a reason. We need to stand firm in the face of calamities and always have hope that things will get better. Only when we have faith that change will arise, will it truly come. As parents we need to share that faith with our children and we need to teach them to have patience through the long haul. 

As parents and role models we are the change we hope to see. We are the reflection of what the future generations will be.

نشأت الأطفال في زمن الكراهية: تربية مواطنين صالحين

بقلم‭ ‬ريم‭ ‬شرف

نحن‭ ‬الأن‭ ‬في‭ ‬زمنٍ‭ ‬مُحير،‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬الكراهية،‭ ‬والعنف،‭ ‬والتعصب،‭ ‬والعنصرية‭ ‬منتشرة‭ ‬في‭ ‬كل‭ ‬مكانٍ‭ ‬تقريبًا‭. ‬كبالغين‭ ‬نتأمل‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬الأوقات،‭ ‬مما‭ ‬يجعلنا‭ ‬قلقين‭ ‬حول‭ ‬المُستقبل‭ ‬وما‭ ‬يُخبئه‭ ‬لنا‭ ‬في‭ ‬جعبته‭. ‬ونحن‭ ‬نتمنى‭ ‬التغيير‭ ‬ونتسائل‭ ‬كيف‭ ‬نبدأ‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬التغيير‭. ‬وفي‭ ‬وسط‭  ‬كل‭ ‬هذا،‭ ‬يستمع‭ ‬ويشاهد‭ ‬أطفالنا‭. ‬إنهم‭ ‬يسمعون‭ ‬ما‭ ‬لا‭ ‬نقوله،‭ ‬ويرون‭ ‬ما‭ ‬نحاول‭ ‬إخفاءه‭. ‬وكأمٍ‭ ‬لطفلةٍ‭ ‬صغيرة،‭ ‬فأنا‭ ‬قلقةٌ‭ ‬حول‭ ‬ابنتي‭ ‬وأتمنى‭ ‬لها‭ ‬ألا‭ ‬تُضطر‭ ‬أبدًا‭ ‬لمواجهة‭  ‬تلك‭ ‬السلبية‭ ‬والعدائية‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬نحاول‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نحمي‭ ‬أطفالنا‭ ‬بقدر‭ ‬ما‭ ‬نستطيع؛‭ ‬وذلك‭ ‬عبر‭ ‬عزلهم‭ ‬عن‭ ‬كل‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬الكراهية‭ ‬الموجودة‭ ‬حولهم‭ ‬في‭ ‬العالم‭ ‬الحقيقي،‭ ‬وبذلك‭ ‬فنحن‭ ‬نتركهم‭ ‬بلاحولٍ‭ ‬ولاقوةٍ‭ ‬في‭ ‬مواجهة‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬الكراهية‭. ‬كيف‭ ‬يُمكننا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نشرح‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬لأطفالنا،‭ ‬وكيف‭ ‬يُمكننا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نُعدهم‭ ‬لمواجهة‭ ‬السلبية‭ ‬الموجودة‭ ‬في‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬العالم؟‭    

الإجابة‭ ‬هي‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نكون‭ ‬قدوةً‭ ‬لأبنائنا‭ ‬وأن‭ ‬نكون‭ ‬آباءًا‭ ‬استباقيّن‭. ‬وتلك‭ ‬الخطوات‭ ‬الست‭ ‬القادمة‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬تساعدنا‭ ‬في‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نكون‭ ‬آباءًا‭ ‬نموذجين،‭ ‬وقدوةً‭ ‬لأبنائنا‭:‬

1‭. ‬كن‭ ‬مُنفتحا‭ ‬وصادقًا

الخطوة‭ ‬الأولى‭ ‬في‭ ‬مواجهة‭ ‬أي‭ ‬قلقٍ‭ ‬أو‭ ‬في‭ ‬حل‭ ‬أي‭ ‬مشكلة‭ ‬هو‭ ‬الاعتراف‭ ‬بها‭. ‬قم‭ ‬بمناقشةٍ‭ ‬منفتحةٍ،‭ ‬وودودةٍ،‭  ‬وداعمة‭ ‬مع‭ ‬أطفالك‭ ‬حول‭ ‬الأحداث‭ ‬حولهم‭. ‬اسألهم‭ ‬ما‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬يعرفونه،‭ ‬ما‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬يفكرون‭ ‬به،‭ ‬كيف‭ ‬يشعرون‭ ‬حيال‭ ‬الأوضاع‭ ‬الراهنة‭.  ‬قم‭ ‬بممارسة‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬التعقل‭ ‬والحذر‭ ‬حين‭ ‬الحاجة،‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬يجب‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نكون‭ ‬صادقين‭ ‬عند‭ ‬النقاش‭ ‬حول‭ ‬المواضيع‭ ‬الصعبة‭. ‬ربما‭ ‬نعتقد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬أطفالنا‭ ‬لايعرفون‭ ‬شيئا،‭ ‬أو‭ ‬لايريدون‭ ‬الحديث‭ ‬ولكنّهم‭ ‬حقيقةً‭ ‬يريدون‭ ‬ذلك‭  ‬بشدة‭. ‬اجعلهم‭ ‬يدركون‭ ‬أن‭ ‬بإمكانهم‭ ‬القدوم‭ ‬إليك‭ ‬في‭ ‬أي‭ ‬وقت،‭ ‬سواء‭ ‬إذا‭ ‬كانوا‭ ‬يريدون‭ ‬الحديث،‭ ‬مشوشيّن،‭ ‬خائفين‭ ‬أو‭ ‬حزنى‭.‬

2‭. ‬إدراك‭ ‬الاختلافات

الاختلافات‭ ‬ليست‭ ‬أمرًا‭ ‬سيئًا‭. ‬في‭ ‬كثيرٍ‭ ‬من‭ ‬الأوقات‭ ‬نحاول‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نُرسل‭ ‬رسالةً‭ ‬إيجابيةً‭ ‬بقولنا‭ ‬‮«‬نحن‭ ‬جميعا‭ ‬متشابهون‮»‬،‭ ‬ونقوم‭ ‬بالتأكيد‭ ‬على‭ ‬التشابه‭ ‬بيننا،‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬المشكلة‭ ‬أنّ‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬يؤدي‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬جعل‭ ‬الاختلافات‭  ‬تبدو‭ ‬أمرًا‭ ‬سلبيًا‭. ‬ويجب‭ ‬علينا‭ ‬بدلًا‭ ‬من‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نُدرك‭ ‬ونعلم‭ ‬أطفالنا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬الاختلافات‭ ‬هي‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تجعل‭ ‬البشرية‭ ‬مُميزةً‭. ‬الناس‭ ‬مختلفون،‭ ‬وتلك‭ ‬الاختلافات‭ ‬هي‭ ‬أمرٌ‭ ‬إيجابي‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬بحاجة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬تعليم‭ ‬أطفالنا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يكونوا‭ ‬متآلفين‭ ‬ومُرتاحين‭ ‬مع‭ ‬ما‭ ‬يجعلهم‭ ‬مُميزين‭ ‬ومُختلفين‭. ‬حينها‭ ‬فقط‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬يُدركون‭ ‬الجمال‭ ‬في‭ ‬التنوع،‭ ‬ويفهمون‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تنوعنا‭ ‬هو‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬يجعلنا‭ ‬أمةً‭ ‬واحدة‭: ‬إنسانيةً‭ ‬واحدة‭.‬

3‭. ‬تحدَّ‭ ‬التعصب‭ ‬الموجود‭ ‬بداخلك

‭ ‬يجب‭ ‬علينا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نتأمل‭ ‬حياتنا‭ ‬الخاصة،‭ ‬ونبحث‭ ‬عن‭ ‬الأسس‭ ‬التي‭ ‬بداخلنا‭. ‬فأطفالنا‭ ‬بحاجة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬رؤيتنا‭ ‬ونحن‭ ‬نمارس‭ ‬القيم‭ ‬التي‭ ‬نعلمهم‭ ‬إياها‭. ‬فالذين‭ ‬نُحبهم،‭ ‬والذين‭ ‬نكرههم،‭ ‬والذين‭ ‬نتحدث‭ ‬إليهم،‭ ‬والذين‭ ‬نتجاهلهم‭ ‬كل‭ ‬هؤلاء‭ ‬بشرٌ‭ ‬ومجموعات‭ ‬نطلب‭ ‬من‭ ‬أطفالنا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يختاروا‭ ‬من‭ ‬بينهم‭. ‬بدلًا‭ ‬من‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬يجب‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نعلم‭ ‬وأن‭ ‬نحتك‭ ‬نحن‭ ‬وأطفالنا‭ ‬بأناسٍ‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلفيات‭ ‬ثقافية‭ ‬مُختلفة،‭ ‬وذوي‭ ‬ثقافات‭ ‬وخبراتٍ‭ ‬مُختلفة‭.‬

4‭. ‬ركز‭ ‬على‭ ‬الإيجابيّات

في‭  ‬مقابل‭ ‬كل‭ ‬لحظةٍ‭  ‬سلبيةٍ‭ ‬،‭ ‬توجد‭ ‬لحظةٌ‭ ‬إيجابية‭. ‬تلك‭ ‬اللحظات‭ ‬تخرج‭ ‬أسوأ‭ ‬ما‭ ‬في‭ ‬الأشخاص،‭ ‬وتلكم‭ ‬اللحظات‭ ‬تُخرج‭ ‬أفضل‭ ‬ما‭ ‬فيهم‭. ‬بعد‭ ‬كل‭ ‬لحظةٍ‭  ‬صعبة،‭ ‬يوجد‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬شخصُ‭ ‬واحد‭ ‬على‭ ‬الأقل‭ ‬يقوم‭ ‬بالكتابة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬المُشرعين،‭ ‬والمُحتجين‭ ‬ونشر‭ ‬رسالة‭ ‬الحب‭ ‬والتسامح‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬بحاجة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬إدارك‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬الإيجابيات‭ ‬ومكافئة‭ ‬أطفالنا‭ ‬عن‭ ‬كل‭ ‬كلمة‭ ‬إيجابية‭ ‬يقولونها،‭ ‬وعن‭ ‬كل‭ ‬سلوك‭ ‬إيجابي‭ ‬أو‭ ‬قيمة‭ ‬إيجابية‭ ‬يقومون‭ ‬بنشرها‭. ‬وكلما‭ ‬ركزنا‭ ‬على‭ ‬الأمور‭ ‬الجيدة،‭ ‬كلما‭ ‬قلت‭ ‬رهبتنا‭ ‬من‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تحدث‭ ‬الامور‭ ‬السيئة‭ ‬لأطفالنا‭.‬

5‭. ‬كن‭ ‬قدوةً‭ ‬بأفعالك

أكبر‭ ‬وأهم‭ ‬خطوة‭ ‬لكي‭ ‬تكونوا‭ ‬بالغين‭ ‬مثاليّن،‭ ‬ويُحتذي‭ ‬بهم‭ ‬هو‭ ‬أنّ‭ ‬تكونوا‭ ‬قدوةً‭ ‬بأفعالكم‭. ‬الأفعال‭ ‬تتحدث‭ ‬بصوت‭ ‬أعلى‭ ‬من‭ ‬الكلمات،‭ ‬خاصة‭ ‬بالنسبة‭ ‬لأطفالنا‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يستمعون‭ ‬ويشاهدون‭ ‬كل‭ ‬خطوةٍ‭ ‬نقوم‭ ‬بها‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬بحاجة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬التصدي‭ ‬للتسلط‭ ‬والظلم‭ ‬مهما‭ ‬كان‭ ‬صغيرًا،‭ ‬وأن‭ ‬نتحدى‭ ‬التصنيفات،‭ ‬وأن‭ ‬نشجع‭ ‬أطفالنا‭ ‬ألا‭ ‬يقفوا‭ ‬مُتفرجين؛‭ ‬بل‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يتخذوا‭ ‬مواقفًا‭ ‬في‭ ‬مواجهة‭ ‬أي‭ ‬ظلمٍ‭ ‬أو‭ ‬عدوان‭.‬

6‭. ‬تحلّ‭ ‬بالصبر‭ ‬والإيمان

نحن‭ ‬بحاجةٍ‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬التحلي‭ ‬بالإيمان‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬بحاجة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬الإعتقاد‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬كل‭ ‬شيء‭ ‬له‭ ‬سبب،‭ ‬ويحدث‭ ‬لغايةٍ‭ ‬مُعينة‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬بحاجة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نبقي‭ ‬صامدين‭ ‬وأقوياء‭ ‬أمام‭ ‬المصائب،‭ ‬وأن‭ ‬نتمني‭ ‬أن‭ ‬الأشياء‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬تتحسن‭. ‬عندما‭ ‬يكون‭ ‬لدينا‭ ‬إيمانٌ‭ ‬حقيقي‭ ‬أن‭ ‬التغيير‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬يأتِ،‭ ‬فإنّه‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬يأت‭ ‬حقًا‭. ‬كأباء‭ ‬نحن‭ ‬بحاجةٍ‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬مشاركة‭ ‬إيماننا‭ ‬مع‭ ‬أطفالنا،‭ ‬نحن‭ ‬بحاجة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نعلمهم‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يتحلوا‭ ‬بالصبر‭ ‬دائمًا،‭ ‬ومهما‭ ‬تعاقبت‭ ‬الأزمان‭.‬

كأباء‭ ‬وكأشخاصٍ‭ ‬يقتدي‭ ‬بهم‭ ‬أبناؤنا،‭ ‬يجب‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نكون‭ ‬التغيير‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬نتمني‭ ‬رؤيته‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬إنعكاس‭ ‬لما‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬تبدو‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬أجيال‭ ‬المُستقبل‭.‬