How do I teach my kids about Human Rights?

human rights

If you have read anything I’ve written before, you will have recognised that I try to see the funny side of most things. Sense of humour is essential if you wish to survive motherhood. It is even more essential if you wish to survive life in South Africa. Since I am a mother of 2 boys, living in South Africa, I laugh as loudly and often as I can. If I don’t, I will most certainly cry. And drink, more than the allotted 2 units a week or whatever is deemed healthy by experts these days.

So, as I pondered the subject of human rights, what they were, what it meant to have them as human beings, why we needed to write them down and talk about them, why we have a day dedicated to them at all, and where the children fit in to the whole subject, I got myself thoroughly depressed. When I look around, I see the rights of people, children especially, being so overlooked, so violated, so disregarded, that I can not laugh. I simply can not find a funny angle.

How do I teach my children about human rights when we see a mother and child begging at almost every robot we stop at, when nothing that I tell my precious children bears any truth in the reality of daily life in South Africa?

The depressing truth is that as a mother, I’m beyond teaching my sons what human rights are. I’m too busy making sure that the gross violations of human rights that occur every day under our noses, especially to the children in our country, simply don’t happen to my boys.

Instead, I pray daily for my children, earnestly, and without ceasing. I pray for their protection, for their health, for their safety, on our roads, and in the hands of their care-givers. I watch them like a hawk, lest they are kidnapped from under my nose by child-traffickers or muti-makers. I teach them how to handle blood if they are faced with another child’s injury at school, because I want to protect them from HIV.

I tell them they are special, and that their bodies are their own. I respect them, and I teach them to respect others. I teach them that we don’t hurt animals, and that the planet is our home and all life should be respected. We recycle.

I do all of this, because I know that although they may have rights on paper, in theory, no-one will enforce them when I’m not there. So I dedicate my life not to teaching them about their rights, and the rights of others, but to ensuring that their rights are upheld. I hope that by example, they will learn what human rights are, and that when they have their chance, they will uphold them more vehemently than we have managed to.

A glass of wine and giggle anyone?

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Author

Philippa Cross

Philippa Cross

Philippa Cross, a mother of two boys and a bulldog called Oscar. Having adjusted her approach to being an award winning author somewhat, she now just hopes her recently completed novel will be accepted for publication.  She has recently started a blog called mumblings.

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6 Responses

    1. Thank-you. A glass of wine anytime. (To others reading this reply, we know each other, Lisa is not a random cyber stalker drinking buddy.)

  1. I agree 100% and am teaching my 3 little ones in the exact same way too ! At least I know that if I teach them, it will be done properly and decently.

  2. Hi Tim

    Thank-you for taking the time to insult my “meaningless crud”. This is an article where, as the introduction says, writers were asked to reflect on what this day means to us as parents in S.A. So you have wasted 5 minutes critiquing an article that is introduced as a personal, individual expression and opinion, just because you don’t agree with it. As you clearly value well researched articles with substance, why not try http://www.mg.co.za or http://www.politicsweb.co.za.
    P.s. I don’t have a face book page. To quote Bridget Jones, who you have already identified as my role model and heroine (how did you know?) “I’m too busy and important.”

  3. I will second that request. The Social web allows for real conversations between real people, whoever they are. These conversations happen in exactly these kinds of social media platforms, outside of traditional press and even online publishers’ requirements to maintain objectivity on a subject at all times.

    Opinions expressed in social media platforms may not be to everyone’s taste, and certainly, at the risk of siding with Tim, one can pretty much say anything one likes, no matter how uninformed one is. But I believe in the importance of normal, everyday people having a space in which they can converse honestly. And I’m so bored of political correctness.

  4. Nicely said, darling Phil. You’re right – the social web allows for just that – freedom of expression. (You must’ve had a good teacher). I would SO love to hear from Tim, WHY exactly this is ‘meaningless crud’, and how exactly he maintains any reference to Sex in the City.

    Personally I thought this to be rather insightful. Raising children is hard enough. Raising children with any sort of principles seems to be something most people have failed at.

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