24 February 2014, by Petrina Kow
Parenting is one of the most complex and challenging jobs on the planet and we’ve all asked ourselves at some point, ‘Why didn’t the baby come with a guide book?’ Whilst I don’t think anyone can claim to have the knowledge to cover it all in one definitive guide, I do believe I have found a book which I feel is the most relevant to me right now. And from all of the conversations and observations I’ve had with parents, the topic of inculcating values seems to be at the top of the “Best Parenting Practices List”.
Like it or not, you are your child’s first and best educator. And yet, we receive little to no training at all. Last I checked, there are no Parenting Tuition classes or dedicated parenting schools. And there are WAY TOO MANY parenting books that play up to your insecurities as parents and not enough that really offer a guiding philosophy.
The Family Virtues Guide Book was written by Linda Kavelin Popov, founder and director of the Virtues Project, an international organization dedicated to inspiring spiritual growth in young and old alike. It was born out of a simple idea – that all children are born with innate virtues, and that once we do our jobs as parents to awaken these gifts of character, we can change the world. This multicultural, interfaith handbook shows parents how to turn words into actions and ideals into realities. Drawn from the world’s religions, they’ve distilled 52 virtues to nurture togetherness in family life. Very handy because there are 52 weeks in a year! Universal virtues which we would all recognise such as love, respect, kindness and loyalty, to great ones like assertiveness, confidence, and determination, to easily forgotten ones like, cleanliness, idealism, and purposefulness.
The simple strategies, which explain what a virtue is, how to practice it, and signs of success, will engage children of all ages in an exciting process of growth and discovery. In fact, what I find particularly powerful is that even if you commit to just finding one of these virtues to highlight in your kids everyday, it will definitely equip them with the mindset and vocabulary to be better humans to others and to take responsibility for their own behaviour.
I know by saying “THE ONLY BOOK YOU NEED” seems to be promising a lot but if you can successfully read it all, imbibe the truths in this book and practise these virtues everyday, I guarantee you, it will make you a better parent instantly and you will be raising upstanding, compassionate, driven, responsible children. And that’s a lot coming from someone who usually turns her nose at these ‘self-help-transform-your-life-in-3-simple- steps’ type books. In fact, I would recommend this to anyone working with kids, such as teachers, counsellors and educators.
It may not deal with every single topic that pertains to parenting, but it does cover the essentials of compassionate and consistent parenting, which I believe are the qualities that we all wished we had more of.
What I really like about the book is how elegant and simple the strategies are. It’s easy to read, easy to understand and most importantly, easy to start practising the virtues with your kids.
What really was the clincher for me was learning the language of integrity and self-esteem which I feel are sorely lacking in our fast-paced, overly-scheduled world. I have no doubt we all mean well, but when you’re juggling a million things at once, the first words out of our mouths are always the harshest.
To quote a passage in the book,
Language is also the vehicle of thought. Peace Pilgrim, a woman who walked across America for the cause of peace, said, “If we knew how powerful our thoughts were, we would never again have another negative thought.”
When our words are weighty, we need to weigh our words. And they always are. The language of virtues helps us to replace shaming and blaming with personal responsibility and respect. It is a frame of reference for bringing out the best in each other. It helps us to become the kind of people we want to be.”
If you are planning to have a baby, I highly recommend reading this book so you can really start things right. Those who already have kids, trust me, it’s never too late.