Change the World: Start at Home
by Paula Cabrera
As parents, we all want a better world for our children. We don’t want to bring them into a world of violence and animosity. We want them to live in a world where people respect one another regardless of social background, race, religion, gender, educational attainment, what have you. We want them to live in a world with blooming flowers, clean air, and clean seas. We want them to grow up knowing that there is good in each and everyone, in every situation, and in every experience.
We simply want the best for them, the best that life has to offer. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s part of who we are as parents. It’s something that comes to us naturally.
But how do we go about it? Do we just keep hoping that one day this world will be completely clean, kind, and honest? Do we keep dreaming? Should we lower our standards or make them “more practical?” Where do we even begin?
As cliché as it may sound, Mahatma Gandhi’s famous words still remain true: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” We can’t expect the world to just better itself without us exerting our best efforts to contribute to the changes we want in this life. More importantly, we can’t expect others to hand over this better world for our children without us, as parents, implementing rules, instilling values and consistency, and forming habits, ideals, goals, and standards at home.
So here we are, parents. Our step one begins nowhere else but in the comfort and safety of our very own homes.
Yes, home sweet home is where change starts.
We all know that the family is the basic unit of society. Logically, if the basic unit gives importance to values that help in improving the quality of life, then society itself should turn out better, more progressive, and even kinder and more sustaining. On the other hand, if we don’t protect our family, if we raise children with a groundless sense of self-entitlement, if we don’t give importance to our marriage, if we don’t make any attempt to keep things in order or impose any rules at home, then how can we expect to live in a society that isn’t chaotic?
We want a better world. Oh yes, we do. But we have to start somewhere and that somewhere is our home, our family. We ought to build families and raise children who contribute to the betterment of our world.
How do we do so? Here are a few tips.
1. Love your spouse and remain committed to your marriage.
There’s something unfathomably gratifying about promising yourself to another person for the rest of your life, through its ups and downs, in sickness and in health. This is what marriage is – a leap of faith and a work in progress. Yes, it is easier said than done: sticking together through whatever you face as spouses. You’re bound to fight, to disagree, and maybe, even to hurt each other, but that’s the thing. You’re bound as husband and wife. You’re supposed to give all your heart, soul, and energy to make your marriage work. You’re supposed to devote yourself to your better half in order for you to achieve goals together and make dreams come true. The day you got married, you created a family, and both of you became responsible for your family.
You have chosen to choose love in every joy and difficulty you go through as spouses. Loving your spouse and protecting your marriage are the building blocks that make up the foundation of your family, your home. Without your commitment as husband and wife, your family may not be able to withstand challenges.
Be loyal, giving, trustworthy, and faithful to your spouse, but demand the same commitment. Respect your spouse and be honest. Communicate with each other. Choose your battles because not everything should be fought over. Go on date nights and have fun. Discover the joys and pains of life hand in hand. Explore the world together. Do what you can to develop and protect your marriage.
Having this kind of commitment in life will help us in battling the evil in this world.
*If, you are a solo parent, then remain committed to building a safe haven for your kids and remain committed to yourself, your dreams, and your faith. There are many reasons and different circumstances which have brought you to your life as a solo parent, and being one does not mean you are not tough enough to build and sustain a home. It just might be more challenging, but with the right attitude and with determination, your love for your kids will power you through.
2. Set a good example for your kids.
We can’t keep ignoring the reality that children do what we do, not what we tell them to do. We can’t say one thing then do another. This will establish inconsistency which will result in confusion.
Let’s do our part as parents. Let’s show them that kind words go a long way, that respect begets respect, that there’s always a room for understanding, that we can heal and forgive, and that we ought to help one another, not destroy lives and relationships.
Let’s be the kind of parents they look up to. Let’s inspire them to long to become humble, responsible, compassionate, and determined individuals. Let’s give them proper standards of parenthood, which they will carry with them when they themselves become parents one day.
If we want our kids to live in a world where people respect one another, then let’s be humans who do not judge others and confine them in stereotypes. If we want them to live in a world where they can breathe in clean air and swim in clean waters, then let’s pick up the trash and dispose them properly. If we want them to live in a world where they can voice out their opinions without being crucified, then let’s speak with kindness and conviction and let’s listen to what others have to say, what our kids have to say. We can’t just dictate to our kids how we want them to behave. We can’t dictate and impose values. We ought to show them how to be good neighbors, good citizens, good parents, good individuals. These are taught not just through our words, but also through our actions, our behavior, and our choices. So let’s set good examples for our little ones.
3. Pay attention to your children. Spend quality time with them. Get to know them and accept their personalities. Build their confidence and help them acknowledge their weaknesses.
In this world where technology makes things so convenient and accessible, it’s actually very easy to be distracted. There are so many options to choose from – clothes, restaurants, books, movies, etc.
At the same time, we have responsibilities to fulfill – chores to finish, meals to cook, work to do, and other tasks that need to be accomplished at a certain time, on a certain date, in a certain manner.
As parents, there are times we might feel like robots, jumping from one thing to do to another, and so, at the end of such a long, tiring day, we just want silence. We want to rest. Because in a few hours, it’s another day, and we need to get up once again, juggle everything, and just survive the day at work, another day of parenting, another day in this busy, busy world.
Thus, we find ourselves constantly battling the temptation to make our kids sit in front of the tv or hand them an iPad so that we can finish our chores, meet our deadlines, or have a few minutes of quiet time. We’re tempted to tell them to stop bothering us first and to give them whatever will keep them distracted. If we always give in to these temptations, then we fail as parents.
Our kids are not supposed to be the little monsters who get in our way, who hinder us from fulfilling our obligations at home and at work. They’re not obstacles. They’re our mission.
So let’s make time for them, be there, and give them our full attention. Let’s listen to their opinions (it’s surprising how these little ones have so much to say!) and get to know their temperaments, instead of forcing our ideas on them and dictating their personalities. Let’s converse with them, play with them, read to them, and travel with them. Let’s pray with them. Let’s help them discover their strengths and weaknesses and guide them in building their character.
It is in establishing good relations with our kids that we are able to rear them into kind and caring individuals this world needs.
4. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
It’s so easy for us to complain about all the trash in the world, but we’re the ones responsible for them. It seems impossible to do all the clean up and make Mother Earth as good as new, but really, it isn’t, and we can help. The small ways are not actually so small; if we practice them consistently, they go a very long way.
So at home, let’s practice the famous R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. Less trash from a home = less trash from every street = less trash in the village = less trash in a particular area = less trash in a city = less trash in a country = less trash in the world. C’mon, let’s not think it won’t make a change. It will!
5. Reach out and help as a family.
Imagine if each family chose a particular cause, supported it, contributed to it in whatever form, and fought for it. Then we’ll be living in a society where there’s really no lost cause.
Let’s encourage fighting for a cause as a family. We just need to discuss with our spouse and kids what we most believe in as a family and go out to support that cause. There are so many things worth fighting for in this world and we shouldn’t give up. Again, our “small ways” of helping are not really small; for another person, our small ways could mean the world.
For starters, we can choose to volunteer in tree planting activities, spend a few hours playing with kids at an orphanage, or donate to organizations. We don’t need to help out in a grand way that would put our family at a big financial risk. Our help doesn’t always have to be monetary. More often than not, our time and efforts are even more greatly appreciated.
The truth is we can start changing the world, and we should. The moment we chose to build a family, a home, we have all the more embraced our responsibility as human beings to empower others and to work for the betterment of society.
We do this by starting at home. We do this by taking care of our family.
Paula Cabrera is a working mom and a devoted wife. She and her husband are both lawyers who are continuously learning to embrace the joys and pains of both work and parenting. Reading and writing have always been some of her hobbies, and so, despite being busy, she finds time to do both even for just a few minutes everyday. She hopes to be able to be able to reach out to other parents through her short pieces and remind them that they are not alone in the crazy yet fulfilling world of parenting.