Home Parenting Did You Know It is Not Enough To Be Good?

Did You Know It is Not Enough To Be Good?

by Vidya Sury September 1, 2014 11 comments
be good vidya sury

Coming from my then 8 year old son, my first instinctive reaction was to smile, but I stopped myself just in time and looked curious. After all, it was a moment of revelation for him and who was I to rain on his parade?

He: “Did you know it is not enough to be good, Mummy?”

Me: “Really? Why do you say that?”

He: “But did you know?”

Me: “No!”

He: *smiling with that sense of I am-about-to-tell-you-a-life-truth look* “Yes. It is true. We have to be good. But we also have to be smart and clever. Only then we can survive”

Me: *Thinking, Survive? Now where did he hear that?* “Who told you this?”

He: *pulling himself up to his full four feet. Yes, my boy was tall* “My teacher”

Me: *Thinking, ha, then it is official!* “She is absolutely right, you know.”

He: *Pondering* “Mummy, what is survive?”

Me: *Smiling and feeling rather clever* “Survive is….look in the dictionary first. Then ask me”

He: “I saw!”

Me: “And what does it say?”

He: ” It says *reading out, struggling with the big words* “continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.”

Me: “Do you know what that means?”

He: “Yes!”

Me: *stunned* “What?!”

He: “Mummy, For example Grandma. She is good, smart and clever. Her life was tough, but she is strong and kind and loving”

Me: *Floored* “You are right. How did you know this?”

He: “You told me so many times.”

Me: *trying hard not to laugh* “It is true. You have to be a very strong person to face everything in life. And keep smiling”

He: “I will!”

Me: “How will you do it? Can you give me an example?”

He: *his little face is earnest* “If I ask you for noodles and you say no, I will smile and say okay. Then after you hug me and say “good boy” I’ll ask you if you can make it tomorrow”

Me: “Hmm. You are a survivor! And you are also smart and clever. But don’t ever forget to be good, okay?”

He: “Okay. I will also be kind and loving, always”

Me: “I love you”

Hugging ensues.

be good vidya sury

He: “What to do if people are mean?”

Me: *struggling to find the words to appeal to an 8 year old* “You know, there are different types of people. Good and not so good. The people are never bad. It is only their behavior which is bad. If you are naughty, we scold you for your behavior, but still love you. So, remember, if someone is mean, there is a reason for it. Do not be mean in return”

He: *trying to process this* “But Mummy there is a boy in my class who sometimes beats me for no reason. What should I do?”

Me: *thinking, oh, toughie!* “Don’t ever hit him back. If you do not respond, he will stop. If it hurts, let your teacher know”

He: *hopefully* “Will she punish him?”

Me: “She will tell him not to hit you or anyone else.”

He: “Then will he stop?”

Me: “I think so”

He: “Why do some people do bad things?”

Me: “Maybe they are angry with something. Maybe they don’t have a loving family. Maybe they don’t have basic things you and I have”

He: “So sad. I will always try to be kind and good, Mummy”

Me: *Feeling blessed and relieved that this conversation let me off so easily*


He: “Sometimes I can’t be clever”

Me: “Why?”

He: “I feel scared.”

Me: *Hugging him* “Tell me, what happened”

He: “Yesterday my Teacher scolded me for not writing in my Class Work book. But I had written! When I tried to tell her, she shouted at me and I felt scared”

Me: “You shouldn’t be scared to tell the truth”

He: “But if I tell the truth, she’ll punish me for talking back”

Me: *A complete what-the-what moment* “You should still tell her the truth. Silence is not always golden!”

He: “I’ll try next time.”

Me: “Good! Make fear your friend!”

He: “Do you ever feel scared?”

Me: “Of course! But I try to remember that most of the time we feel scared because we expect something bad to happen, or when we feel hopeless. And worst of all, because we don’t know what to expect.”

He: “What do you do then?”

Me: “My Grandma taught me to think positive, but also be realistic. See, you have to make fear your friend by being brave. It is okay if things don’t go the way you want. But you must always do your best and be sincere and honest, okay?”

He: “Hmm. Okay. So I must be good, clever and brave”

Me: *Pretty sure this is not the end of our conversation because I can see his mind busy working*  “Yes. It is important think about what makes you feel good. Then be brave enough to do it smartly!”

He: “It is not easy”

Me: *hugging him* “Nobody said it was easy. But it is going to be worth it!”

Yeah, out of the mouths of babes. “it is not easy” and that’s the truth. I know I am not perfect. But I try my best to be a good Mom.

be good vidya sury



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Shalini September 1, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Amazing post! How thoughtful! I still remember few instances and words my parents have told me! It gives a great impact!
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Mridubala September 1, 2014 at 2:44 pm

So lovely post…good advices 🙂
Mridubala recently posted…Forbidden slumber

Beloo Mehra September 1, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Right, it is never easy 🙂 But it is always great fun to read your wonderful posts, Vidya. And you always manage to give me something to ponder upon! Very interesting, this one. The part about teacher’s voice being ‘official’ was creatively done 🙂
Beloo Mehra recently posted…Hello, It’s a Miracle!

Roshan R September 1, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Linking you to the post I had written for Corinne 🙂

I totally agree.. being good is no longer enough. In fact it can be counter productive
Roshan R recently posted…The 10 peppiest TV theme songs of the last 25 years

Sheela September 1, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Very true Vidya….we got these lessons from our parents and we give similar ones to our children, with some slight changes to match up today’s world…isn’t it?
Thoughtful post!
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obsessivemom September 1, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Oooh they sure can talk, right? And such gyan.. he just is more your son than you know it Vidya.
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Birgit September 1, 2014 at 9:49 pm

You are a wonderful parent. You answer his questions in a way he understands and you also helped him to not let fear dictate his actions. Fear drives people to do something they normally would not do. Many will agree with someone just so they do not get that person’s wrath. They “follow orders” and they don’t get involved. This happens in a grand way (WW2 Germany) and often in small ways-school, work-the basics are the same. We must always stand up for what we truly did and what we believe in. My husband and I have been talking a lot about parenting (we are not parents but we see around us). Parents often give too much to their children out of fear of what happened to them when they were young and that they do not want their child to deal with hardships. Unfortunately, it often backfires…why? No discipline. Now that doesn’t mean a child gets the whip but discipline is necessary and it teaches love. I remember being with my friend when I was 12 yrs old. My friend said her parents didn’t love her. I could not understand as she got all she wanted. She told me I was loved and I asked her how she knew. She told me “Because you are disciplined.” This came from a 12 yr old girl. I, also 12, had no idea what she was talking about. If a child has no structure, how are they to know love. Your child already has learned survival skills since he dealt with bullying. He knows love and acceptance. So many are not taught this.
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nabanita September 2, 2014 at 12:07 am

He is your son Vidya more than you know I think…such thoughts at such young age…You son after all 🙂
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Melissa September 2, 2014 at 12:57 am

This is a great reminder Vidya, “to remember that most of the time we feel scared because we expect something bad to happen.”

Those kind of beliefs and expectations formed from them, can really limit us in so many ways.

Out of the mouth’s of babes… love this post 🙂

Laurel Regan September 2, 2014 at 3:18 am

Delightful post! I can see how parenting can be a real challenge at times, though so rewarding. Thank you for sharing this sweet conversation. 🙂
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Shilpa Garg September 2, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Wow! That’s some thoughtful and thought provoking conversation! Like mother… like son 🙂
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