Yes, Together We Can
by (Capt) Ravi K Mahajan
6. CHILDHOOD – PARENTING
The Future of the Country is Today’s Child.
Child’s Future is in Your Hand – The PARENT.
‘Child is the father of man’, so said William Wordsworth. Indeed childhood is the glorious age of human existence. Everyone loves a child. A child in the house, always attracts every ones’ attention and is joy to watch for everyone. Supposing, you are traveling in a railway compartment or bus. If you are with a child, you can be assured of comfortable trouble free journey. Friendships develop easily through a child. You have come new to a colony. To get to know your neighbours, nothing like going to the nearby park with your child or if child is small, take the child in the pram. You will automatically make friends.
Wish I had remained a child always. A popular Hindi song, sung on the occasion of a child’s B’day, tells it all. ‘hum bhi agar bache hote, Naam hamara hota abloo babloo, khane ko milte ladoo, aur dunia kahti happy B’day to you’. In English it means, ‘wish, I was a child, my name might have been abloo or babloo, would have got laddoos to eat, and world would have said ‘Happy B’day to you’.
But a child has to grow into an adult and come out of the golden age. Our present society is the true reflection of what people have learnt, when they were 4-14 years of age, the golden age. If we want to improve things in our country or elsewhere, we have to start from the beginning. Teach the child what you want to see in the society and you will see things that way in due course. So, the responsibility is yours if you are a parent, not of the child.
For example, take these ‘distinguished’ corrupt scamsters of our country. I do not wish to name them and waste paper space in this book. I do not blame them entirely. Their parents and company they moved in, may also be blamed partly. They must have been brought up by the parents, who gave too much importance to money, saying ‘Only the end matters, not the means’. Greedy parents mean, more greedy children. Ethics, Values, Morals, Compassion, Contentment, Truthfulness, Honesty, Altruism, Rectitude of Conduct and Integrity, are learnt both in school as well as at home, but more at home.
They must have been taught when young, if you have money, you have everything in life. Accumulate as much as possible, without thinking, how much you need. Never think of Thanking God for what He has given you. Keep grabbing and accumulating more and more, as much as you can. As for giving-sharing-helping, forget about it. Whatever money you can make by any means, is yours. That’s about all. Had they been instilled the right values, ethics or morals during their childhood, they definitely would not have been where they are today, in jails, disgraced and discredited.
It’s simple, why I hold parents more responsible than school, is because till about fifteen years or till the child is in school, it’s the parents, who take all the decisions on behalf of the child. School is also chosen by them. If they are not satisfied by one school, often, children are shifted. If atmosphere in home is that of love and sharing, any child will grow up to be that type of person. If, on the contrary, atmosphere in home is that of hostility, bickering and confrontation, how can the child be otherwise?
This lesson is, basically, about parenting, because parents are indeed responsible for the behavior of most adults. A couple of days back, while talking to the headmaster of a school, I was shocked when he informed me that, whenever they want to introduce any sporting activity, physical training or extra curricular activities for the children in the school, there is stiff resistance from the parents, who think those activities are a waste of time. They want only syllabus and course should be taught, through which children can score better marks, get admission in elite institutions and ultimately, make more and more money, when they grow up.
Every adult needs holistic development, education and training as a child. It has been proved through various surveys, that those who do very well in academics, may not, necessarily, do so well in life. Since, the life is not lived by money alone, one has to be good in so many other things in life. Most of the aspects have been covered in this book in detail under various lessons, still no harm in discussing them here also, to give more stress. The simple question is what should be your approach, as parent to bring up the child, which is your and only yours, prime responsibility.
Knowing and unknowingly, we transmit many things to our children. If we are mostly fearful in anticipation of something bad happening, most likely, the child will also be full of fear. If, while growing up, child has seen his parents being selfish, unethical, immoral, distrustful or disrespectful to elders, these negative traits will get automatically transmitted and instilled in the child. Very simply, if the child sees his parents being disrespectful and uncaring to their own parents, it will definitely be very unwise to expect that child to be any different as grown up.
Personality of any person is based on two most important things in life. One, the company he keeps and second, the books he reads. At birth, the person is in the company of his mother after having been conceived and lived in her womb for nine months. Her thoughts and tribulations are absorbed by him. During growing up, the child is in the company of parents and other family members. Then comes education which teaches him to read and write. He also makes friends. During his entire growing up period, he is in the company of either people or books. So, a person’s personality is effected by their quality in a big way.
It is a big responsibility on parents to see that the child keeps company of good people and reads good books. Watching TV programmes can also be included in this. In people, books and TV, you have both what is good or bad for the growing adult. Your company may be of fair weather friends, who give you company as long as the going is good. They provide you only entertainment but no value. Books! Same thing. If the child gets into the habit of reading cartoons, story book or novels, once again the same thing. It is entertainment, no value. TV also gives you the choice. Whether the child watches programmes for entertainment or for information and value. In one way, the child shall be getting into the habit of wasting time, while in other, child will grow into a responsible person.
Many parents, as long as the child is young, remain in the illusion that they can get away with that kind of behaviour with their own parents. But mind you, grandparent and grand children will always have affinity towards each other. That’s why it is said ‘Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for the old age’. So, my advise to all young parents, will be to treat your parents with utmost respect, so that when you grow old, which you will one day, you get the same respect from your children, which you have given to your own parents. And mind you, as you grow old, your need for being respected also grows, and mutual respect becomes a very sensitive issue.
The moment child is conceived in mother’s womb, your responsibility starts as parent. Atmosphere at home must be total tranquil, loving and stress-free. Both good and bad things at home get transmitted to the womb. But real responsibility starts, when the child is growing. Each of the five billion people living on this planet, is unique and original. Though every child is born with some talents, which can be considered as Gift of God to him, otherwise, the child is like a clean untouched slate. As parent, you can write anything on that slate, till a child is about fifteen years of age. Childhood is the impressionable time of habit formation, developing his outlook, being respectful, helping and kind. He imbibes these habits mostly by seeing around in the house and picks most of them from his parents. Whatever impressions are formed in childhood, last for life.
If the child sees both the parents fighting and arguing with each other, definitely he shall feel internally insecure, fearful and, bad at forming meaningful relationships and so many other things, which go with such an atmosphere and behavior. While, if the parents are respectful to each other and to the child, helping each other type, patient type, he shall imbibe all those good habits automatically. When the child sees parents treating each other and him with dignity and respect, he also treats others with respect, when he grows up. Such children would blossom into caring, and responsible citizens, who are a boon for the society, are always liked by everyone and develop into attractive, pleasing and magnetic personalities.
Primary responsibility of a parent is to preserve the uniqueness and originality of the child. Do not try and make him as one above the rest or a showpiece. Ultimate aim in life is that the child should grow into a useful, caring and responsible member of the society, where he has to cohabit with everyone in a tranquil and homogenous atmosphere. It is not necessary that if the child has been a first ranker above others, he shall also be the first ranker in forming good meaningful relationships, which are more important and satisfying, when he grows up and bring more meaning and joy to him in life.
If parents feel the world is too dishonest, cruel or tricky for their child, in my opinion, an honest, dutiful and simple person stands better chances of shining in this world. So, make him that and never ever hold his honesty or simplicity against him. Parents should be so open and loving to the child, that the child should never want to hide anything from his parents. To make a child respectful to others and to them, when he grows up, always treat the child and his work respectfully and never let him down and make him feel small before others. A child best learns from what he sees. Parents must ensure that they exhibit all those qualities themselves what they want to see in their children. As parent, don’t do anything what you don’t want to see in your child.
Gandhi ji used to say ‘My life is the message for you’. While bringing up the children, that’s what you have to do. Practice what you preach or in other words, lead by example. More than saying, doing has to be there to have everlasting impact on the children’s mind. In fact, when you practice, preaching is not required. The child sees and learns. It is like, if you do good and serve His creations in whatever manner you can or want, there is no need for you to go to temple or pray. Your doing good is prayer itself. Whatever a child is taught at school or anywhere, is waste, if he sees things differently at home. Basically, it is the home from where child learns basics of goodness and habits thus formed grow with him to adulthood.
A father and son were travelling. Father bought two tickets, since the child was over five years old, though looked younger. When father was told that he need not have bought ticket for the child, father replied ‘If I cheat today, my son would grow up to be a cheat. I am his role model and want him to be like me when he is my age’. Father was right. If father cheats today, son will be encouraged to cheat and would think nothing wrong in cheating, because his father is doing the same thing. Children learn fast from parents and teachers.
A child needs constant inspiration and development and there is no one other than parents who can inspire, develop or elevate a child better. Rearing a child and instilling good habits is your lifelong investment, your child. Every night before children go to sleep, both parents must spend some quality time with the children. Repeat some good things again and again so that those are engraved in their impressionable mind never to be forgotten in life. When the child grows up to become an adult, he shall be thankful to you for that. He may or may not become a businessman, doctor, lawyer, manager or CEO but focus at making him a Good Human Being. If you have done that, you have made the best investment in the life of your family. Legacy thus left is better than any largesse you leave, many times over at that. And for God’s sake do not wait for opportune moment for this noble task. Do it from today, start it now because the children grow in a flash before your eyes. Tomorrow may be too late.
A child used to watch with disgust, how shabbily his parents were treating his old grandfather. He was kept in a dingy room, had to sleep on the floor and was given family’s leftovers in an earthen bowl. One day the child told his father ‘Please handle that bowl carefully. I would need it to feed you when you are old’. Naturally, we love our children but parents also must be given same love & affection when old, as they have brought us up and would have sacrificed so much to educate and bring us up.
A middle aged person, presently, with family responsibilities, should always feel indebted to his parents for his upbringing, training, work culture. He should take pride in his individuality, heritage, society, religion and country. He should be prepared to go to any place in the world for higher learning and knowledge, but should not think of leaving his country for greener pastures and higher incomes.
In umpteen homes, problem is there. Parents took great pride in sending the children abroad for higher studies and for earning better emoluments. When they stayed back there, making an occasional guest appearance here, parents find it hard. Older, in eighties, both or single parent living alone after the death of the partner, is a common sight in India these days. However, in my opinion, it is more honourable and dignified to live and die as the first class citizen of a poor country, than to shift base to a foreign rich adopted country, where colour of the skin may not bar you professionally, but does bar you, socially and psychologically.
Difference in good and bad parenting can be seen from the difference in a person’s attitude towards money and value he attaches to the money, the way he treats his own money and his outlook towards others’ or collective money. Some people will count each penny, if it is their money but do not mind if association’s or what I have called others’ money, is wasted or unscrupulously spent. This is definitely a sign of poor parenting. A person may acquire as much wealth, but by honest means and as a child only, the giving habit must be inculcated, so that the adult person is neither miser and fussy about money nor is he spendthrift, lavish and wasteful.
Class of parenting of a grown up person, can also be judged from his pleasing or arrogant and rude manners, outlook and most of all, the way he conducts himself. Qualities like good civic sense, sense of responsibility and integrity, consideration for fellow humans beings, honesty, truthfulness, patience, kind and helping nature, compassion for others, discipline and character etc. are best learnt when young. A good measure of a person’s parenting can be gauged from the way one behaves, when things are going bad which they often do. Some become arrogant and egoistic with even little wealth, while others remain same or even more humble in their behaviour and attitude, even when they have attained enormous wealth. Test of a person’s quality of parenting can be very simple. Test is, not how he treats VIPs or influential wealthy people, but how he treats those ordinary people, less fortunate or less wealthy.
Let your love not fears guide you during parenthood. In life, our actions are born out of our thoughts, and our thoughts are the products of our values imbibed in us during our childhood. We normally get what we focus on. So as parent always focus on good, so that your child always is the recipient of good. Do not see the child as a child but as a grown up person which he would be one day, caring for his own family. What you have instilled in him now, will be handy to him then and if he is successful, you get the credit and so also the discredit if he is a failure and poor in forming meaningful relationships. As parents, you must ensure that child is emotionally secure while growing up to take on the bigger responsibilities and is capable of handling difficult situations in life
If you are a parent, you would, naturally, want your children to live a really rewarding life. Then, right from childhood, instill following Seven Positive Traits in your child, which are; GENEROSITY, DISCIPLINE, PATIENCE, DILIGENCE, HONESTY, COURAGE OF CONVICTION AND WISDOM. There are many more lessons in this book, which you must adopt yourself and ensure those are imbibed by your children, before they are fifteen years. If you have done that, along with above Seven Positive Traits, you have given your child, the biggest gift of his life, a head start. Even if you leave millions, they are nothing compared to these golden humane qualities, with which he can lead a life of complete bliss, serenity and tranquility.
As part of home curriculum, lessons in imparting core values written above in bold capitals and most importantly, habit of sharing things with others, must start from a very small age and enforced if need be. It is where real parenting counts, to make a child a better human being, which would help you in the long run. All other things a child can learn from anywhere, but for these Core Values, only you can teach. Try and make them spiritual. These are the best security cover you can give to your child, better than all those artificial insurance cover provided by the Insurance companies. These values will come handy to child everyday of his or her life and then they shall be in a better position to pass on these core values to their children. You have, thus created something wonderful for your child which no one but you could have done for him.
Supposing the child has cheated in a school test and passed and have told you and accepted this fact before you. You will be alarmed and in a dilemma, what to do? Looking at the positive side, is the fact that child had the confidence of telling you and accepting the fact before you. Should you ignore the incidence, which will give a wrong impression to the child that it’s o.k. to cheat and as parent, you do not mind it. On the contrary, if you tell the teacher, the teacher may carry an in-built bad impression of the child for future and if she leaks out this matter to other teachers, school principal or other children, then it may have permanent mark on child’s psyche. In my opinion in such or related matters, the child must be told that cheating, indeed, is bad and unacceptable, and as parent, you would not love him less, if he fails. Though, in such cases, it may not be a good idea to tell the teacher, but it is your duty to ensure that the child knows your mind and grows up with a clear idea, that honesty and ethics are more important in life, than failing or passing. Once mistake can be forgiven, but that was wrong and would never be allowed to be repeated. You must repeatedly, ensure that the child is on the right track and forget about that one incidence. But under no circumstances, let the child get away with dishonesty and the resultant temporary benefits.
Health is Wealth. How untrue, because I have always felt, health to be much more important than wealth. Even if you have all the wealth in the world, but not good health at any age, even enormous wealth is as good as zero. You must be mentally and physically healthy, to enjoy your wealth. So, it is your prime duty as parent to see, that your children get into the habit of eating healthy and an exercise regime should form a part of their upbringing. Do not let your love and affection be turned into monetary rewards, which might result in unhealthy eating habits.
Usually, children are more comfortable, expressing themselves with the mother, rather than the father or anyone else. It is natural also, because mother has given birth to them, taken care of them, fed them, is more patient to hear their problems. Hence, they are also much closer and attached to their mother, share their secrets with her and are more receptive to her gentle advise, tactful manipulation and subtle brainwashing. Because of her natural warmth and persuasive nature, she is able to instill much needed values, ethics, manners, compassion, maturity and tactful handling of difficult situations in the growing children. When you see a humane, gentle, calm, helping type person, you may be reasonably assured of mother’s drive and zeal in building such a personality. Take the case of team India captain MS Dhoni. His father was not keen that he should pursue cricketing career, but his mother was the driving force behind his passion. But for her, Dhoni may not have been a cricketer. Imagine a team India without Sachin or Dhoni. Dominant role of mother in everyone’s personality and accomplishment can always be seen and felt.
Parents, sometimes, are very much offended and feel let down by their grown up children (Now, of course, adult) and would say something like ‘we have brought them up giving everything in life whatever we could, but look at them now…….’ Very unreasonable! Giving birth to the child is natural, bringing him up is natural, doing your best for him with money and resources, is also natural. Your parents did it for you. It was your prime responsibility to do the same for your children, which you have done. No one ever is under any obligation from his parents for giving birth to him or bringing him up to the best of their capacity and capability.
Once again its ‘Karma’, what is in your hand, and that is the quality of parenting to be imparted to your children. Instilling those much needed values and ‘Samskars’, is in your hand. Probably, such complaining parents, have failed in their basic duty and responsibility towards their children, in this important aspect. Had they read this lesson and applied the teachings on themselves and imparted right values and training to the children, they would not have had to undergo what they have to.
There is another unfortunate thing happening these days about parenting. As soon as she can, after the childbirth, young mother is back on her job or wants to continue with her well paying job, leaving the responsibility of bringing up the child on the hired maid or when child is slightly big, the crèche or small child is put in hostel or left with grandparents to be raised. But the upbringing of the child suffers badly. One has to understand that nature has bestowed upon the responsibility of motherhood on the young mother, which is mother’s prime responsibility and only she can fulfill it, none else. This duty and responsibility towards the child cannot be delegated. Such young working mothers are very much aware of the pros and cons of rearing a child and if they feel, the lure of money coming from job or greed is too great, then mother should delay child bearing till she is financially, physically and mentally ready to take on this onerous responsibility or avoid it altogether. Such children, though looking physically normal, are psychologically abnormal in various degrees. Majority of the spoiled brats of today, mostly have had such kind of defective uncared upbringing.
Though, the parents of such children or the mother may think, that child will not know about it, when he grows up, it is a wishful thinking. Such children often carry a deep grudge towards parents and at times, this grudge can take a very ugly turn later on in life, when the child has grown up and parents are old by then. Parents in general and young mothers in particular, must get over the greed of making money at the cost of the child, which can boomerang badly on them in later years of life. Parenting is not only feeding, washing or caring about the child, it is much more than that. Love and affection, which a child needs while growing up, which is a very important part of the growing process, is parents’ responsibility and must find preference over the money earned.
Read the lesson on ‘Expectation & Comparison’, once again. As parent, have least expectations from your children, if you want to be happy. After all, you must understand that once the child is married, his primary responsibility is his own family, not the parents. Unfortunately, people keep giving examples of old times and culture. You must accept the current trend and not keep harping on old ways. More expectations you have, more you are likely to be unhappy. So visualize your future requirements and try to be as much independent as possible in every aspect. Life is for living well, not for cribbing and complaining. You can live wonderfully well, in fact better, even in ripe old age, if you have an independent and least expectation mindset and had mentally prepared for old age when young.
In a household, a child arrives like a most welcome mystery box. It’s the quality of your parenting, the polish parenting will provide, what the child becomes. From a raw stone, a precious diamond will emerge. Parents only would impart him the knowledge about basics of life, that it shall be ready to acquire further knowledge in school, to create a work of art. Home atmosphere should be so, that the child feels fully secure, never threatened, never afraid to try anything new. In the home, kindness, generosity and grace, should always be the rule without exception.
A child is like a seedling which would become a tree one day. How strong will that tree be, will depend upon what nourishment you have given to the seedling. And nourishment is of two varieties. First one is what you have guessed right. The food you give the child for a healthy body. Both food quantity and quality should be right. If all the time, you are overfeeding the child, fried stuff and refined food items, child is likely to grow big sized, overweight and obese. Most of the weight loss clinics are patronized by the persons, who were overfed the wrong foods during childhood.
Second type of nourishment is more important, which made them the type of persons, they are. If they are instilled and nourished with good habits like high values, sound morals, compassionate, kind, giving-sharing-helping types, respectful and honest, then the child blossoms into a good human being, caring type, who is loved and valued, where ever that person is. Both ways difference in the person can be seen, when he or she grows up. An adult person, of which, you can be proud of or otherwise. It’s all about the nourishment you have given the child as parent.
You might have found the similar advise elsewhere in the book, but since the matter is of utmost importance, coupled to your happiness during ripe old age, I would write more about it. Matter concerns money and wealth, you might have earned or accumulated all through your life. When you are doing your karma properly money will keep coming and getting accumulated. You might have bought some properties, which again means more money. Since the money you made was by right full, there is no problem. But as you grow older and older, your children also grow into adults, get married, have to look after their family. Problems and stress about money, wealth and properties may also enter life.
Here, class of your parenting, would play a big role in family’s life. If your upbringing has been liberal and children now adults, are not greedy types, nothing like it. If they are disciplined, patient, giving-sharing-helping types, respectful with emotional control, life may be bliss for you and for the entire family. But if they are greedy, bickering, hot-headed, disrespectful, selfish types, life may be another hell or full of miseries for you. Mind you, irrespective of how fairly you divide your wealth or properties, if your sons or the daughters are of the first types, they would never be satisfied by how much you have given to them. Simple formula applies here. More you have, more you want. Same wealth or properties in which you took lots of pride to have created from your intelligent hard work, may become a curse in your old age. Papers and magazines are full of litigations going on in courts in rich families, but in not so rich families, it can be seen and felt. Life in old age can be torture if children are fighting over the wealth distribution.
Answer to these problems lies in parenting. How you have brought up your children? What values, morals and ethics or Samskars you have instilled in them. Are they generous, giving types, contented types? If they are, old age will be bliss for you. If they are not, God only may help you. You have reaped what you sowed. Nature’s law.
Its not very uncommon to see people trying to blame their parents for their upbringing. Some say, others may only feel. Attitude is very wrong because parenting is not taught anywhere. What I have suggested and advised you in this lesson is only what I saw and learnt. There may be many books on childcare but how to bring up a good human being is not advised or counseled anywhere. Parenting is learnt only by nature or what we see others doing it. There are no hard and fast rules. Hence be proactive in learning from what has been advised to mould your child to grow into a good human being most of all. If you have succeeded in that, rest will automatically be taken care of.
Life is best lived with end in mind. Both for parents, as well as the child. But, unfortunately, we like to live only in the present, if the going is good. It is suggested to ‘live in the present’, when one is going through a rough patch or adversities. For both, parents and children, it must be a life, well lived. Foundation stone of such a life is laid in the childhood only. Just like a sapling, you can mould a child to grow into a sturdy banyan tree, large hearted, well meaning, helping-sharing person, strong willed with strong self beliefs, patient, cool headed, what within same without. He becomes jewel of a person, a human being, whose company everyone cherishes. Parenting is a long term exercise, not a short term course. It is your responsibility. You owe to your country. You owe it to your child to help him grow into a good human being.
Parents should know that a child can achieve much more, when he is secure inside, when he is valued and loved. Thus a child believes in himself, as it is growing with a sense of pride. You have to teach him good character, respect for one another, so that he learns to respect others, before expecting others to respect him. Focus on his strengths, not weaknesses. Give the child the freedom it needs to make choices of his own, so that the child learns to be responsible and is able to stand alone. Teach him to be strong and upright with his vision growing, so that he can visualize all the things he can do and how well he can perform in life. With all that, a hero is borne with the strength, confidence and belief, that he can win and make a difference to this ailing world.
We reap what we sow. Very true in case of parenting, too. Those delicious fruits we eat, apples, oranges, guava, pomegranate, pistachio, almonds etc., someone planted those trees long ago, took care of the plants, nourished them and then only, we are able to enjoy, what someone had sown years ago. Parenting or bringing up a child is also the same. Child is the future and as parent, future is in your hands. Sow it well, with all the care at your command, so that you can reap a rich harvest.
Treat your Parents with utmost Kindness; If either or both reach old age in your presence, do not ever rebuff them. Speak to them with utmost respect. Quran17:23.
If we wish to create a lasting Peace, we must begin with the children. Mahatma Gandhi
Children are our Most Valuable Natural Resource. Hoover