Compassion. Community. Charity. How do we teach our kids to think about those less fortunate than ourselves? In today’s world of plenty, it can be a formidable parenting challenge. And it’s often the holidays—our family traditions, feasts and rituals—that give us the chance to show our children what the spirit of giving is about.
Take Ramadan—expected to start this year tomorrow (July 20). It is a special month for Muslims—a time of prayer, fasting and community. It’s also a cherished family time. We’re taking you on a tour of Ramadan with three family stories from our Four Seasons staff: charity, feasting and craft making.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the lunar Islamic calendar. About 30 days long, it ends when the new moon appears. During Ramadan, many Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. After sunset, they break their fast with a prayer (maghreb) and evening meal called Iftar. They also eat an early morning meal (Suhoor) before sunrise. The traditional family feast, and bonding around the dinner table, is central to Ramadan. Everyone observes the fast together, so Iftar is a highlight of the day.
At Qatar’s Four Seasons Hotel Doha, the staff and our families are preparing for Ramadan. Charity is an important pillar of Islam, and we parents encourage our children to practice little acts of charity during this time:
1. Donating to food banks or serving at soup kitchens -
Ramadan is an opportunity to remind kids to be extra grateful for even the basics: food in the cupboard and a roof over our heads. One easy way to get kids involved is to encourage them to go without a few treats and luxuries—such as no candy, cookies or chocolates for a month—and use the money saved to buy treats for those children who are less privileged and donate to a food bank. You can also take your family to a soup kitchen or shelter, and help serve food to the poor and homeless. You can bet the kids will never forget the experience.
2. Sharing belongings and going without -
Encourage your children to set aside some nice clothes, toys and books, then have them donate these to poor or sick kids. Or they can volunteer their time and pitch in at a local neighbourhood charity. Many Muslim countries organize drop boxes in malls and community centres for donated clothes, books and toys, sorted and distributed to children in orphanges, hospitals and shelters. Encourage your kids to visit children their own age and drop off the gifts in person.
Even if you don’t celebrate Ramadan in your part of the world, use this time to teach your kids about cultural traditions in other countries—and about giving back. A timeless lesson!
Read more about Doha in Four Seasons Magazine.
A Moroccan national, Souheil oversees the hotel's events and banqueting operations, plus off-site catering events. A father of two young kids, Alia and Nael, Souheil’s contagious smile, sense of humour and ability to multi-task are qualities that undoubtedly come in handy at home as well as on the job. When not at work, Souheil loves to take his kids swimming. He is also an avid traveller.
View all posts from Souheil
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