diwali time

Holiday Parenting— Promoting Oneness in Our Kids


By Roma Khetarpal
Roma Khetarpal

Parenting Contributor, Roma Khetarpal

“Mom, I’ve decided I want to be a Christian now,” declared my six-year-old as she got in the car on her last day of school before winter break. She was upset.

 “Well, hello, my doll! How was your day at school?” I pretended that I did not hear what she had said. I didn’t really want to deal with her remark. The holidays are busy as it is. I had just gotten done with the gift giving for the school staff and was far from being done with gifts for friends, family, neighbors, and clients. And now my daughter wanted to jump from Hinduism to Christianity!
 “My day was fine. Thank you for asking, Mama,” said Nitasha. “But did you hear what I said?”
Knowing my daughter, I knew I could not ignore her declaration. “I did, Tash. You said you want to be a Christian now, right?”
“Then why did you pretend not to hear me, Mama?”
“Because I had to think about what you said and how I should answer it.”
“How about thinking out loud because I really want you to help me,” she said with her voice cracking. “I don’t know how to become a Christian.” Now she was sobbing. “It’s hard when you want something and you don’t know what to do. If I become Christian, will you stay Hindu? I don’t want to be Christian alone. What about Papa and my brother and grandma? What if I have to be a Christian all alone?” Now she was crying hard and
loud. Christmas Table
Trying to keep a straight face, I said, “I know this is hard, my love. I’m going to pull
over, and we will talk about this, ok?”
“Ok, Mama. But please help me. I’m so sad.” My little drama queen went on and on.
I pulled over to our local park around the corner and just held her as she sobbed, carrying
the weight of this confusing world over her tiny shoulders. After she quieted down, I gave
her some water, had her take a couple of deep breaths, and said, “First of all, I want you
to know that there is not a single thing in this world that we cannot solve together. Thank
you for sharing your feelings with me. Now let’s start at the beginning. Ready?”
“Yes. Mama. Thank you. I’m ready.” Nitasha was always polite and soothing!
“Okay, great. Now tell me, why do you want to be a Christian? How did that thought come into your mind?” bigstock_Christmas_2312349
“Well…I think that Christians have more fun than we do.”
“How’s that?” I asked—though in my head I was cracking up!
 “Well, Dana and Chris and Lauren and Caitlyn and Jenna and Ellen and everybody in my class, and everyone in the whole world has Christmas trees and lots of lights and presents under their trees. They were all sharing their Christmas fun and feelings with Miss Orland, and I had nothing to say. It made me sad. We don’t have a tree, and we don’t even have holidays for Diwali! I told Dana that I was going to tell my Mom and Dad to get a Christmas tree, and she said that I’m not allowed to because I’m Hindu and that only Christian people can get Christmas trees.” She started to sob again.
That night, my husband and I first laughed about our not-so-small dilemma, and then we
realized how confusing it must be for our children. We had made it clear to the kids that we were Hindus and would celebrate only Diwali so as not to confuse them. After all, we had Grandma at home and she prayed in our small temple room. Our kids loved helping her lighting the deepam (the traditional oil-lit Indian candle) every day.
Clay diya lamps lit during Diwali Celebration. Greetings Card Design Indian Hindu Light Festival called Diwali
We thought following Hindu traditions and holidays would help bring clarity to our children. Little did we foresee Nitasha’s confusion. So we rolled up our sleeves and got creative. Over the course of the following year, we made the following updates in our holiday-parenting strategies. Was this more work for us, of course! But it worked wonderfully.
1. We upped the ante with Diwali celebrations.
I started decorating the whole house and lighting it up with hundreds of diyas (oil lamps) instead of the usual two small ones at the entrance of the house and two in the backyard. Our kids loved helping us set them out on the first day of Diwali and lighting them all on the final day. Sometimes, they wanted to light a few every day, and we did.
Our goal was to make as much noise about Diwali as there was about Christmas, so that our kids could start to really “feel” the festivities instead of just going through the prayers and the rituals.
We wanted them to make a connection with Diwali, and for children what better way than to fuse the holiday with fun.
2. I started having a special Diwali party and dinner in our house with friends and family who all came over after evening prayers—regardless of whether Diwali fell on a weekday or not.
Seeing their cousins on Diwali day was special for the kids.
3. We spoke to the teachers the following year and told them that Nitasha and her
younger brother would be bringing diyas and candies to school to share the day before Diwali.
Her teacher and principal even allotted five minutes for them to tell the story of Diwali at a school assembly. burning oil lamp diya on Diwali Holiday,
4. We took the kids out of school on Diwali and declared Diwali Day a family holiday.
My husband and I even took the day off work. It was a celebration and a family day—just like Christmas. True… this changed as the kids got into their teenage years and had more homework or tests. But we compensated for that with another day off or a special Diwali
weekend away.
5. A friend and I started a Diwali community celebration, where the kids got to participate in Bollywood dances.
Dance practices started a month ahead, and this helped parents and kids come together. On the day of the event, besides showcasing their dance performances and learning more about Diwali through the educational resources that we brought in, kids went home with goodie bags, laughter, and satisfied appetites.
6. Finally, and most important, we started to put up a Christmas tree around the
traditional holiday.  Christmas gift box
We even put one small present for each child under the tree so that the kids could be part of the world around us and share—as my daughter said—the“Christmas fun and feelings” with their peers. This really helped our children understand that we are one large human community, despite our cultural and traditional differences.  It instilled in them that there is great strength, love, and joy in sharing each others’ celebrations and holidays. That is the most important human value that we can instill in our children. Our best efforts should be to raise our children by sowing seeds of oneness, elevating their understanding, and being open to change by opening our own hearts and our minds first.
And once again, it is that time of the year. As the holidays approach, if you follow a certain faith, reflect on what parenting updates you might need to make to help bring clarity to your children. Make sure what you advocate to your children makes sense and aligns with your environment.
For those of us who are raising our children in the Western world, remember that we have chosen to raise our kids here, where the lines of separation are blurring and the roots of oneness strengthening.
Building their character to fit into this melting pot of cultures, traditions, and religions is our responsibility. We are stronger united. This is the most important gift we can give our children and the future that is theirs to live.

More about Roma:the perfect parent

Roma Khetarpal is the author of The “Perfect” Parent: 5 Tools for Using Your Inner Perfection to Connect with Your Kids and the founder/ CEO of Tools of Growth, through which she helps parents raise kids to “Be Happy, Think Positive, and Do Good.” The book is the recipient of the Silver Nautilus Book Award, the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Award, as well as the Parents’ Choice Award and the Mom’s Choice Gold Award. Through her book, parenting classes, community outreach, and the TOG blog, Roma provides parents with simple, easy-to-remember, and effective communication tools that help them build a strong foundation and relationship with their children.

Read more of Roma’s posts here.

Follow Roma on twitter @RomaKhet and on her blog at Toolsofgrowth.com


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