Asif Ashraf, India, father of two sons aged 7 and 4 years old
“We started teaching our [elder] son about charity when he was around 5 years old. I think that’s a good age to start. My 4-year-old is still too young and doesn’t fully grasp these concepts. But the important thing is to not put pressure on them. It may lead to the opposite [effect] of what you’re trying to do. I explain to my older son the importance of charity. If you take care of other people, God will take care of you, I tell him. This motivates him to donate his toys and clothes. We belive that it is necessary to help them realise how lucky they are to have things, a happiness that must be shared with less fortunate children.
“It’s not only during Ramadan that we inculcate these values. We encourage him to be charitable throughout the year.
“Underpinning these efforts is a critical factor — parents as role models. I think it is important to lead by example. It’s not just with donating money. During Ramadan, the entire family gets together so our children can see how I am taking care of my own parents and how much respect I shower on them. This teaches them a lot about the importance of family values as well.”
Abla Ahmad Bassa, Jordan, mother of three Omar Akkad, 17 years old, Hana Akkad, 12 years old, Fares Akkad, 7 years old
“Our role as parents is to help our children feel good about themselves. Teaching our children to be compassionate is one way to do that. Children need incentives at first - a pat on the shoulder or a heart-felt praise. My husband and I make sure to compliment our children whenever they donate clothes or toys. I believe children from the ages of three and four need to start learning about sharing. Their social skills start to develop around that age and we must help them learn the right skills.
“A great way to reinforce values of sharing and giving is to make them a family activity. Almost every night, we have a habit of sharing our evening meal with our building’s security guard. We often send him food with my oldest child, Omar, to enjoy at his post. If I forget, Omar reminds me to cut a share for him.
“Whether parents like it or not, they are role models for their children. Children closely listen to our words and observe our actions.
“To provide my children with real-time examples of generosity, I donate money, clothes, and food, and make sure to involve them at every step.”