The Bhagavad Gita’s Guide to Effective Parenting
The upbringing of a child is the most delicate, crucial responsibility of a parent. While routine parental responsibilities like feeding, providing for and educating a child can somewhat be taken for granted, the molding of personality and character is truly the prime duty of any parent.
People often say that a child is a reflection of the effort and dedication of the parents. While you will find that there is seldom any individual who has not learned to eat, dress or bathe by the time they grow, it is common to find children lacking in a value system or core beliefs.
The traditional joint-family set up has been crumbling over the years, and it is now more common to find small, nuclear families. Moreover, responsibilities have become so shared that both parents work, pitch in at home, and also play a role in parenting. In the whole race towards aspiration and achievement, what the child tends to lose is a sense of belonging and the inculcation of family values. It is common to find parents sending their children to classes to listen to human value-based stories, and parents are also actively attending more workshops on model parenting. While these are all things of the present and future, we sometimes forget that the best lessons can be learned from the most ancient of our scriptures, the Gita.
Anything that we read about and learn today has been derived from the past. It is evolved thinking of years gone by that has given us a foundation for all that we know. The Bhagavad Gita is the real lifeline of our existence, teaching us not just how to lead our lives, but also what is the meaning of our existence.
Children are born divine. They have limited wants, live a contented life, and are always smiling. It is somewhere along the journey of childhood that their being is corrupted with wants, greed and malice. While this can be attributed to the environment to a large extent, much can be said about the involvement of parents. Parents are the ones who teach children to be overly competitive, focus on academic learning, and reach for the highest expectations.
From enjoying the company of doting grandparents, learning about ancient scriptures and great souls, and living a more accepted life, children are today at the mercy of nannies, television and peers. It is therefore more important today that children have a strong sense of conviction and belief in order to survive.
While most parents tend to foster good values in children, it sometimes becomes difficult for them to uphold these values in society. Pressure from peers, parents and teachers sometimes sways children to doing what is not necessarily correct, but that which finds them acceptance. Thus the tendency to lie, cheat and hurt comes into play.
There are certain ways in which you can help the children grow into more upright citizens who can stand their ground. To begin, spend time with your child and share moral-based folk stories. While textbooks and popular children’s stories may be fun, value-based lessons may be hard to find in the pages.
Always teach your child the value of things around them. Once they learn to cherish the importance of food, money, clothes and toys, you will notice that their wants will start to diminish, they will naturally learn to share, and there will also be a sense of responsibility developed for what they own.
Pay much more attention to the means rather than the end. Always look to find out how the child has learned a lesson as opposed to the grades obtained on a test, whether he played fair and won a game, or if he helped his friends complete their work too. These are values that you can illustrate quite simply through daily life. Most importantly, always reward your child with encouraging words when they have done something wrong and have had the courage to admit it. This will give them faith and confidence in the truth, and encourage them to make it a habit. Children often lie just to be accepted, to escape rebuke and make others happy. Encourage the truth even if it means sidelining a bad deed.
Put more emphasis on the importance of the greater pleasures in life. Talk about the transience of worldly pleasures and of the need to seek permanent happiness. Although children may seem too young to understand this lofty ideal, you will find that they can grasp it very easily, as long as you communicate it effectively. This is a difficult practice for elders, but the easiest for children to follow.
The most important guide for parents is to be careful of their own conduct. Children are always watching their parents, and learning from not just what they are told, but the way the parents behave too. Speak gently to everyone around, tell the truth always and be gentle in your behavior. You will find these traits become a part of your child’s personality easily too. While we blame these qualities as being hereditary, it is really a more subliminal learning from our own actions.
While we may believe these teachings to be something from a parenting workshop, this is actually what the Bhagavad Gita teaches and encourages us to do. The latest fads like new classes, methodologies and role playing may become old fashioned with time, but the Gita can never lose its relevance, no matter what day and age we live in.