Hold the History – How we retell history to children matters!

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“Amma, then is Gandhi good or bad?”

“Was partition a good or bad decision?”

“If Gandhi was all that good, why did Godse shoot him?”

Last year, we were into the book, “We, the Children of India” which is about introducing Indian constitution to children. The boy as always came up with a pile of his questions. While I was trying to answer his questions, I realized a yet another responsibility as a parent in

Retelling history to children!

Among all the legacies that our children would inherit from us, history is one. It could be a family feud, a conflict with a neighbour, a communal riot, a world war – history is likely to repeat itself as long as it is repeatedly retold in the same way with the same intensity of emotions to the next generation. Irrespective of what had happened in the past, every generation has the choice to lead the next generation to peace!

H – Hold the History – How we retell history to children matters!

Post #8 of the series: Instilling Social Equality in Children

One of the major influences in the growing-up years can be the elders’ recollection of their life stories. While the stories can offer a valuable learning to children, they also carry the potential to implant one-sided perceptions and biases in them. Here’s what a friend had to share:

“What we hear from parents matter.

Our love for them makes a multiplier on the message.

Experiences either support them or otherwise.

The strength of the person’s character influences how their view changes over time, and

timing of the supporting or disproving experience matters.”

Retelling history to children is important regardless of whether it was good or bad in the past. History shows them the roots where something came from and how it got shaped, and has the potential to continue to shape that something in them in their present lives.

But as with any story, who is telling it matters!

Say our great grandparents who lived in the 1800’s were oppressed and our grandparents were told how bad they were treated and they passed on the emotions of anger and injustice to our parents and we heard all the stories of how our lineage for generations were oppressed, and we continue to retell it all to our children in the 2000’s where they are no longer suffering the actual oppression. Our children will continue to inherit those emotions despite the changes that have been happening over generations.

Yes, the pain of being oppressed is hard. The confinement, the lost happiness, and the struggle to break open are real. And we have every right to share with the next generation the cruelty that had been done. At the same time, we need to reflect upon what relevance our painful past has in the present day.

Are we still oppressed? Or is the only problem is that we are not able to forgive and forget? Are we ready to heal from the past? If not, why? What can bring a change that can allow us to heal? Is there a way other than revenge?

First of all, can there be an other side that can be as true as ours? Can we become big-minded to share others’ perspectives even though it may contradict ours?

Are there more changes for betterment that can come? Can we inspire them toward the change instead of loading them with helplessness of the past?

And what do we want our children to learn from our great grandparents’ lives? How important is it for them to know the ugliness of the past? Do we really want our children to grow carrying hatred and revenge?

Or, would we want our children to grow with fresh memories of freedom and dignity?

Again, I am not hinting any answers. We all have a choice is only what this post intends to highlight!

This can apply to any history.

quote by a politician

In our everyday lives, mostly it could be a family member, a friend, a neighbour, or an acquaintance, or a particular community of people who did something to us in the past. When we are not able to accept, make peace with, heal, or let go, our antennas will often tend to pick up the connected emotions of anger that continue to float around us. But we need a level of emotional maturity to delineate things that are a problem to us and not to our children. Most often when we unmindfully pass on such mental unrest to our children, it is not only going to cause dissonance in their mental field but also seed prejudices, discriminations, biases, and intolerances in them that were never intended.

Let’s hold the history, if it is certainly unnecessary for our children. Let them carry a baggage that’s at least a little less lighter than what we are carrying. May our children walk happily, holding hands, driven and faster than we we ever were!

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