7 June 2010,
Bangalore Ashram, India
Sri Sri Address to parents
It is very difficult for me to talk about parenting. I have no experience. But I can give you some ideas through observation. You have to put this into your experience and see. If you are very orderly, children will make you chaotic. Children are best to break your boundaries. I remember one of my uncles used to be very strict and discipline with me and my sister very much. When he had a son, his son started disciplining him, broke all his barriers. So, your children teach you a lot that others may not be able to. The first thing for us is to observe a kid, its tendencies, and the direction the kid is taking. It is a two way journey. What do you want to learn from them? And what do you want to teach them? Don’t try to put them through your own vision. You have to share your vision with them and persuade them if their vision is wrong. Every child has come to this planet with certain tendencies, certain basics which cannot be changed. And he/she acquires certain things which can be controlled. Are you with me? It is a big exercise. If you are a very much disciplined person, child can create chaos in your life, and they can show you your place, make you break your barriers. We have to be very sensitive. This is one thing that we have to keep in our mind. If you tell children not to lie, and ask them to reply a phone call saying you are not at home, this is simply not going to work. Having an argument in front of your children will make it worse. If you want to have some argument between you and your spouse, you better give your children some job, and then fight as much as you can. But by the time they come back, you better patch up.
We encourage the tendency in children not to give things away, and holding onto things. When that goes beyond a certain limit, we feel suffocated. We often tell them to keep things to themselves. Then they get this tendency of holding back. Small actions can reflect one’s personality. It can be a hindrance to one’s personality. At the same time we can encourage their giving and sharing attitude, and that can develop one’s personality. So, we can do a lot in modifying the acquired talents or personality of a kid. But you cannot do anything with the seed that a child is born with. That will anyway come. These two aspects we have to distinguish, and that is wisdom. And half the job is done if you can do that. The rest half, you have to leave it to God. You have no control on rest half. So this whole process teaches a lot of patience and perseverance, and yet leading them to where they should be going. Giving them a dream and persuading them to walk towards the dream is a biggest challenge in front of parents. So, expose them to multifarious activities. This has to be done before a child is 10 or 11. You should take the child to science, arts and expose them to all the faculties including doing service. On one Sunday, give them some chocolates and ask them to distribute to the poorest people. Once or twice in an year, take them to slum and ask them to do social service. This would enhance their personality in some unknown manner and same thing in studies.
You have to expose them to both science and music. The left brain as well as the right brain has to be nourished. You know, the concept of Saraswati, Goddess of learning, is so amazing. If you look at the symbol of Saraswati, there is a musical instrument, a book and a rosary in her hands. Book symbolizes nourishing the left brain, the musical instrument symbolizes nourishing the right brain and rosary symbolizes the meditative aspect. So, knowledge, music and meditation – all three are required to make the education complete. Then you can call someone educated and civilized. So, make sure that children learn music and yoga. And also make sure that the children have a scientific tempo, and they ask questions. Encourage them to ask questions. A child starts asking questions at the age of three. Then on they keep asking questions. Many times, they come up with questions of which you have no answer. How many parents have this experience? They make you wonder. They make you ponder on reality which is stunning. So, it is very necessary for them to inculcate both music and scientific tempo.
Then see the personality of your child. See that they interact with various age groups. How do they interact with little ones? How do they interact with the ones who are older to them? How do they interact with someone of their own age group? This is something very important. You can understand with this whether they are developing any superiority or inferiority complex, or if they are becoming introvert or extrovert. And you can play a very important role here. Play some games with them, and encourage them to interact with all the age groups, and we can mold their personality to a very central, talented and flexible human being, to a personality which is free of complexes. Children who have inferiority complex would like to interact more with the younger ones and would try to run away from elder ones and even try to avoid their equals. People with superiority complex try to shun the younger ones, and would only want to relate to the older ones. They are not good communicators in either case. As parents, you can teach them communication skills. It is very important for them to learn how to communicate.
I want you to do an exercise. Tell to the person sitting next to you, “I don’t trust you”. This is a chance to say it if it is your spouse (Jokingly)! (After some period of time when audience couldn’t do it even after being asked upon two – three times) You cannot do it seriously. See how difficult it is to tell someone that you don’t trust him/her. It is difficult to tell someone that you trust him/her. But it is even more difficult to tell someone that you don’t trust him/her. Did you get it? Did you notice you did something that you never did before? You told someone that you don’t trust him/her and you start smiling. Has this ever happened to you before? Children have a trusting tendency by nature. But somehow their trust is broken. We need to look into that. Do they trust themselves? Do they have enough confidence in themselves? A healthy child has three kinds of trust.
(The next part of the talk along with queries of parents would be included in the next post)