Q18. Should we teach our religion to our children?
Some people, purely for psychological reasons, would not like to acquint their children with any religion. They think that the child must grow up and then form his own ideas and select his own religion. They would give no religious instruction or moral training. This is not the right attitude, for then children in their formative years are denied the vital direction they need or like wild plants, their growth will be arbitrary and undisciplined. As children, they must ask questions and if they are not satisfied or receive vague replies they feel that something is wanting. They thus grow up in a spiritual limbo. The idea that when they grow up they will select a suitable moral code or spiritual guide does not work. Neither they will have the time, desire or opportunity, to do any thinking or searching for themselves.
Undoubtedly, children have a right to the best their parents possess in all phases of life, including religion. If the parents are Sikhs, they must make the effort to bring the truths of Sikhism and the noble ideals of the Gurus to the notice of their children. In the Rahat Nama of Bhai Desa Singh, Guru Gobind Singh called upon the Sikhs to bring up their children in the Sikh Faith and give them Sikh baptism. To deprive children of religious instruction is to deny them the assistance that the teachings of the Gurus can give them. This will also mean that the vacuum in the child’s mind will remain unfilled and he will continue to live in a state of uncertainty and moral ignorance. It is better to provide him with some moral ideas rather than none.
Let us make a more positive approach to the problem. It is not enough to encourage the social instincts of children. This may help in a limited way to make them realize that social instincts should have preference over selfish ones but the temptations in life are so sudden and strong that mere sense of social responsibility will not avail. A strong moral foundation is necessary to withstand the onslaught of evil ideas or bad company.
It is meaningful and rewarding to tell children of the benefits of the moral support of the Gurus and the assistance they will receive if they follow the Sikh ethical code.