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BRINGING UP CHILDREN

• Teach values such as honesty, integrity, patience and self-control gradually and steadily, that too by your own example.
• Praise them openly and often, reprove secretly and seldom; reprimand the bad behavior, not your children.
• Teach them self-esteem and self-confidence (something they'll carry for the rest of their lives).
• Restrict television watching and computer games time. Keep a watch on your children's company.
• Try to keep alcohol and drugs away from the house.
• Maintain a happy and loving home environment.
• Give a lot of your time to your children, both quality and quantity.
• Make humour and laughter a part of your relationship with children.
• Allow the children to grow and learn through the mistakes they make.
• Hug and show feelings of love whenever possible.
• Communicate gently but clearly and firmly—get your point across.

To be an excellent father or mother requires a great deal of understanding oneself and also the children. This article is an attempt to reveal you the art of handling children, making them more self - disciplined, self motivated and self directed. The parents create a perfect role model.

Modern life is not only competitive but also stressful in many aspects. The era of nuclear family, in which both parents need to work to fulfil the necessary demands. Children have to gradually adapt
themselves to this demanding environment at some point of time.

The first thing to do in order to be able to educate a child, wrote Sri Aurobindo, is to educate oneself, to be master of oneself so that one never sets a bad example. He elaborates:
It is above all through example that education becomes effective. To speak good words and to give wise advice to a child has very little effect if one does not oneself give him an example of what one teaches. Sincerity, honesty, straightforwardness, courage, disinterestedness, unselfishness, patience, endurance, perseverance, peace, calm, self-control are all things that are taught infinitely better by example than by beautiful speeches.

It is important that we discipline in a way that teaches responsibility by motivating our children internally, to build their self-esteem and make them feel loved. If our children are disciplined in this respect, they will not have a need to turn to gangs, drugs, or sex to feel powerful or belong.

This need to encourage the right values and behaviors bring us to the question of discipline. Swami Rama wrote in his book Love and Family Life:

Children should never be treated cruelly or harshly in the process of being educated. The whole essence of discipline is wrapped inside a small truth called love. If you really love your children and tell them not to something, they will rarely misbehave.

Swami Vivekananda, founder of Ramakrishna Mission, uses the analogy of growing a plant to drive home the point:

You cannot make a plant grow in soil unsuited to it. A child teaches itself. But you can help it to go forward in its own way. What you can do is not of the positive nature, but of the negative. You can take away the obstacles, but knowledge comes out of its own nature. Loosen the soil a little, so that it may come out easily. Put a hedge round it; see that it is not killed by anything, and there your work stops. You cannot do anything else. The rest is a manifestation from within its own nature.

To extend this analogy still further, early childhood can be compared to soil that is just prepared for sowing the seed. It is a great opportunity in the life of the child, and an even greater opportunity for the guardian, to sow the seed of knowledge and of righteousness in the heart of the child.

But just how and with what values we choose to influence our children have to be carefully considered.

If you are thinking that if you keep thinking about your children all the time, your children will become better and better - that is an assumption. It definitely does not necessarily mean that. Thinking a lot for your children does not definitely mean that what you think as a parent all the time will help you create what you want to within your child’s behavior. To be precise, thinking a lot for your children means that though you love them you are always concerned about them. Concerns will never ever help you in creating what you wish to create. Concerns do not improve your relations with your child but degrade them rather. Concerns do not build trust but break trust.

Sometimes, as I say: “Be free and let others free”… Let your child free and let them be out in the open rather than keep them closed in a box where there is no light, all darkness.

Sometimes, just leave whatever is happening to the world and become free of your worries. Take some rests and peace of mind. This will enable you in growing as a better parent any day any time.

Kahlil Gibran beautifully expresses the same thought in this much-quoted passage from The Prophet:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward not tarries with yesterday.

The different roles and duties parents have to perform keep changing as the children grow up. Awareness of their responsibility is essential to ensure that parents remain mindful of their duties on a day-to-day basis. They need to be self-controlled, tolerant, selfless, patient, generous, kind, flexible, and above all, givers of unconditional love. It is difficult, no doubt, but it has been done for centuries and shall continue for many more. So, let us take strength from Kahlil Gibran's words.


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