1. Passion for reading
Of all the things my father taught me, possibly the one that I cherish the most is the value of reading.
From a very young age read to your child as much as possible. Get her to fall in love with the words and pictures in the book. When she grows older, buy her attractive picture books and help her read on her own.
Encourage her to ask questions and answer them patiently. As she adds years, add books to her life. Let reading become a regular part of her routine. Discuss her favourite author and characters with her. If you haven't heard of them, read up a bit yourself. This will make your ties stronger. Moreover, if she catches you reading she is sure to imitate you.
Build your own little library and keep it well stocked with books of different genres - so that anytime she wants to reach out for something interesting it is always there for her. On her birthday encourage your friends/relatives to give her books rather than T-shirts/jeans or Barbie dolls. You too could make it a habit of giving books as gifts. This way not only will you be setting an example - you will also be promoting the reading habit.
Encourage your child to write poems, stories, essays and reviews of her favourite book and submit it on the net and/or to any of the newspapers that carry children's supplements. Encourage her to become a member of a library and join a book club.
2. A sense of appreciation and gratefulness
Appreciation is a quality that is becoming rare. In this age when there is such a premium on time not many of us can waste our precious moments on words of praise. In case the target of our proposed appreciation is our boss we rationalise: "He shouldn't think I am indulging in bootlicking to win favours." If the person happens to be a subordinate, we convince ourselves - "If I shower him with praise he will start taking me for granted." If he happens to be one's own child we conclude "I shouldn't spoil her."
We are gluttons when seeking praise, but misers when giving it. Genuine words of praise, as opposed to flattery, are like the proverbial 'mercy' of the bard - they bless those who give as well as those who receive. Teach this value to your child. Let her learn to appreciate and praise. Let her learn to be grateful and express gratitude. Share with her these lovely words of Francis Clark, "Persons thankful for little things are certain to be the ones with much to be thankful for."
If there is one value that seems to be fast disappearing from our lives, it is honesty. Our politicians and bureaucrats have created a system that reeks of corruption. Instead of raving and ranting at the system, we should do something about it. We should take a pledge that in our own lives we shall be honest - if not for ourselves then at least for the generation next. Which us would like to bequeath a world even more callous and corrupt than ours for our children?
Strive to be honest, and set an example for your children.
4. National pride
As a result of the information and entertainment explosion a new country has been created - The United States of India. Gen Next drools over Pokemon and Hulk Hogan (WWE), speaks the Yankee lingo (Yo, awesome, rocking), swoons over American stars (Kidman and Cruise), eats their food (pizza, burger and Coke) and dreams of making it to the US of A. We should tell our children that it is okay to dabble but not drown in the ocean of American culture.
We should help our children develop a pride in India, its people, its culture and, above all, in being Indian. With all its warts, its problems and its dichotomies India was, is, and will remain forever, a great country which has upheld the highest values of peace, tolerance and universal brotherhood.
We should let our kids know that America owes quite a significant part of its success to Indians. Our home-grown desis are now leaders in areas such as engineering, technology, medicine, pure science, business, entrepreneurship et al. If the Indian Diaspora decides enmasse to do a 'return of the native' (a la Shahrukh Khan in Swades), then USA may end up looking battered and bruised.
The New VAT - Part I