In age of Trump, parents must raise kids to be like Gandhi, not Hitler – Hayley Matthews

Mohandas Gandhi advocated non-violent protest (Picture: Central Press/Getty)
Mohandas Gandhi advocated non-violent protest (Picture: Central Press/Getty)
Share this article
Have your say

In these troubled times of Donald Trump and co, parents should set an example of kindness and compassion to their children, writes Hayley Matthews.

For me, there is enough hate, exclusion and pain in the world as it is and I’d quite like to see people teaching their kids more kindness to be honest. You don’t need to go far to read a nasty quote from the likes of Donald Trump or scroll through too many posts until you find a story about people causing pain to their fellow humans. However, when I see a parent demonstrating behaviour that encourages their children to exclude, ostracise, cause pain or purposefully hurt another child, I find it hard to comprehend.

It seems to take a special kind of cold to be purposefully cruel to a child in distress and it can be even harder to witness when the adult seems to show no remorse or display any sign of a moral compass. Surely the desire to nurture should automatically kick in when seeing a child very upset, and even more so if you’re a parent yourself, or maybe I’m missing something.

What happened to parents in the playground demonstrating positive behaviour and acting as role models? Have we become so desensitised to the hatefulness that fills our TVs and news feeds on a daily basis that we’re failing to teach the fundamental basics to our children by setting an example in front of their peers?

READ MORE: Hayley Matthews’ searingly honest first hand account of growing up with alcoholic mother - and what that means for her children

READ MORE: Here’s one secret to succesful parenting – Hayley Matthews

I saw a situation recently where a grown woman caused a child to be very upset due to her actions, actually I’d go as far as to say the child was inconsolable. She didn’t flinch or break a sweat as the child cried and reacted normally to a distressing situation and did nothing to offer comfort. Even another parent commented to me how it seemed very cruel and upsetting to watch as the mum strolled on, slinking away from any responsibility to remedy the child’s distress. Seeing the child distressed was upsetting enough however, what got me more was trying to work out how we’ve gotten to a point when a grown woman can be so shut off from parental intuition.

With the world seemingly slap bang in the middle of a tense time, surely it should be more important than ever to teach our children the art of kindness, love and acceptance and discourage them from singling out their buddies or being purposefully cruel. When racist comments from world leaders and countries passing a homophobic laws, like banning same sex marriage, seem like an almost daily occurrence, I fear we are hindering our progressive evolution as kind, caring human beings. And trust me, it all starts with the teachings from our parents and grandparents. I’ve witnessed enough ill-feeling as a child so am quite passionate about doing a John Lennon. Call me a hippy but when I see a parent demonstrating cruelty, exclusion and ostracism to one of their children’s peers, it leaves me with little faith for the generation they’re raising. I made a point of telling the upset child that he had done nothing wrong and that sometimes adults – yes, even adults – make terrible decisions and can be utterly stupid due to their own egos and lack of common sense. The child took comfort in this.

A few years back, I was lucky to meet and interview Arun Manilal Gandhi (a grandson of Mohandas Gandhi) and what he said to me about peace, children demonstrating acceptance and love was a lesson I’m sure some parents could do with learning.

So come on people, we’re raising tomorrow’s Gandhis and Mother Teresas, let’s teach them love, acceptance and inclusion, not to shun, ostracise or punch each other’s lights out. We don’t want to end up with another Hitler on our hands, now do we?!