Skip to content

Art of Parenting

Art of Parenting

Parents have a difficult time relating to their children. They bitterly complain about ‘their independent and impertinent behaviour’. That they have gone out of control and stopped relating to them. Almost all parents point their finger at the young and see no fault of their own. Little do they realise that the problem of relationship invariably emanates from parents. From their clinging attachment and possessiveness towards the children. In the absence of the intellect the constant emotional pressures exerted by them virtually strangulate the young. The first step to straighten relations is for the parents to realise their inherent weakness and make a careful study of the psychological traits of their children. 

Children are born with the capacity to absorb knowledge from the external world. It is called udana in Sanskrit language. Udana, the power of grasping fresh knowledge is maximum at birth and it diminishes with age. And when a person reaches ripe old age it practically disappears. That explains why youngsters absorb ideas and ideologies, trends and fashions faster while the older folks take much longer time. The disparity in time for such absorption causes what people term as a generation gap. With the result the old perceive the world differently from the young. 

This disparity leads to argument and altercation, confrontation and conflict between parents and their children. Neither of them is aware of this natural discrepancy. If either one understands that the other helplessly manifests his own nature then one would be tolerant and adjust one’s relation amicably. If both understand this simple phenomenon of nature and conduct themselves accordingly they would live in perfect harmony. But the problem humans face everywhere is the lack of such understanding on both sides which has strained, practically destroyed parent- child relationship. 

Moreover, children possess extraordinary energy. Effervesce with tireless passion and play. The older ones, parents lack energy and enthusiasm in life. They are prone to become tired, fatigued. And try to combat it with stimulants, weekend breaks and vacations. The reason for this contrast is the absence of worry and anxiety in children. While adults are plagued with worries of the past and anxieties for the future. 

Parents are not aware of this stark reality. In their desperation to exercise control over the children’s tireless activities they suffocate them with incessant restrictions and restraints. The solution to the problem lies not in stifling them thus. But in studying their natural tendencies and giving their energy a direction. This is possible when the adults possess knowledge of the higher values of life and practise them. By themselves living those values and educating the children, the parents should help the children’s energies flow in the right direction instead of stifling them. 

This procedure in dealing with family confrontations is akin to controlling road accidents. Where too many accidents take place there are two ways of avoiding them. One way, which is no way, is to reduce the speed limit of vehicles to a ridiculously low level. The other, sensible way is to provide drivers with proper road sense by educating them with traffic rules and regulations. So too, youngsters should be provided  with  value  education  rather  than  being showered with do’s and don’ts. The general trend in the world is that parents fail to set examples of right living but merely pester their children with ill-founded advices. To set the relationship right they will have to live the life they wish their young to follow and avoid giving them sermons. The late president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln had put this idea across succinctly: There is just one way to bring up a child in the way he should go and that is to travel that way yourself.  Therefore it is incumbent upon parents to set the standards through right examples for their children to follow.

A few examples set herein should serve as general guidelines.

Freedom and Licence

Growth in a field of activity is enhanced in an atmosphere of freedom. Children would need that freedom for their growth and progress in life. However, freedom should not be misconstrued as licence. Parents must clearly understand the difference between freedom and licence. When freedom crosses its limits, breaks norms and standards, rules and regulations it becomes licentiousness. Children need to be educated on this difference and given the freedom to operate. But when parents tread on their legitimate freedom the relationship turns sour.

Fight Ego

Ego is a dreadful trait in a human being. It is one’s arrogation of ‘I’ and ‘me’. The common demonstration of this trait is a glaring assertion of one’s views, more often unsolicited. ‘I don’t agree’, ‘I don’t like it’, ‘I beg to differ’ and the like. Also personalising everything, a constant reference to ‘me’. ‘What about me’.

Another characteristic of the ego is one’s sense of possessiveness. A demeaning quality inconsistent with the dignity of a human being. The constant declaration of ‘my’ and ‘mine’, even when not threatened by others’ claims, mars the charisma of a person. It interferes, even spoils the harmonious relationship among people. It is a trait that breaks the bond of affection and camaraderie. Adults do not realise the negative effects of their possessive nature and freely indulge in the use of ‘my’ and ‘mine’. To make matters worse parents encourage children to fix signboards on their room doors with their names or ‘My room’ on them. Sometimes with a suffix ‘Don’t enter’. These perpetrations, most times innocent, build an ego from childhood which disturbs the peace and harmony in relationships.

Fix Ideal

Humans stand out from all other creatures in their ability to rise above the ego and egocentric desires. To serve and sacrifice for others. To attune to this great quality one has to fix an ideal to work for. An ideal is something beyond one’s self-centred interest in life, above one’s selfishness to merely fulfil personal desires. It is directed to the welfare of the community, the wellbeing of one and all. Children need to be trained from the very beginning to think on these lines. To work for a common cause, for a benevolent purpose above one’s selfish interest. As the young learn and practise working for a higher ideal in life, their character and behavioural pattern shapes beautifully. The society in which they work develops a spirit of giving rather than taking. And an atmosphere of service and sacrifice prevails therein.

Surrender and Gratitude

Surrender, followed by gratitude, is an essential quality that every human needs to possess. The onus lies on the elders to educate their young on this trait. One must

understand the importance of surrendering to areas of one’s ignorance. If you do not possess the knowledge of medicine you must surrender to one equipped with that knowledge. Seek the help of a doctor. If you do not know engineering you must take the help of an engineer. If however you do not care to surrender to those knowledgeable in the realm of your ignorance you could meet with adverse consequences. Surrender does not mean blind acceptance. Whatever advice you seek, examine it carefully with your intellect and accept that which admits reason and judgement.

Another gross behaviour prevalent in modern society proceeds from the lack of gratitude. Gratitude is one’s silent, genuine acknowledgement of any form of service, benefit received. A life without it deprives humans of one of their noblest traits. Gratitude is something that could rate even higher than love and kindness. Much like clearing a debt would rank above an act of charity. But it is rather unfortunate that this magnificent trait is virtually obsolete in the present world. One takes the help of another, it could be surgery in an emergency, and sues the surgeon for the slightest, unintended error. William Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar unequivocally denounces ingratitude as stronger than traitors’ arms. Where  ingratitude  infiltrates  a  society,  the  society putrefies. There would be stress and strain, disharmony and disturbance among its members. Children cannot afford to grow up in such an atmosphere. The adults must realise this and set the right ambience through surrender and gratitude.

— Extract from “Governing Business and Relationships” book written by A. Parthasarathy.

Continue reading Blog