Allow your child to be a child : Swami Ananda talks on parenting

Representational Image from Hans India

Transcribed from Swamiji’s talk at Yoga Vidya Italia. Edited by Gautham

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For any job or role, one has to undergo training. One’s way of work will be based on the trainer’s way of work. Training makes a person systematic. The problem with parenting is perennial. Nobody wants to be trained in parenting. One doesn’t want to get educated to become a parent. Now a days, there are books and tutorials available for parenting. As a personal advice, It is better not to study those books or tutorials.  Let us first understand the problem that present day parents have. 

 
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We have not come to this world all alone. We have our friends, relatives, colleagues and so on. It is generally observed that parents have this thought process that only others have to change according to them. They have to understand that they have to change and grow along with others’ growth. Here, parents think that the child is an extension of them and don’t understand that child is a separate individual. The child becomes another individual the moment the umbilical cord is cut from mother during the birth of the child.
 
 
Mother thinks that the child is her extension and wants the child to be a replica of herself. If you want replica of yourself, the first question here is, “Do you like yourself ?” (Laughs) “When you don’t like yourself in first place, why do you want a replica of yourself ?” (Laughs) “Am I not creating another problem for myself ?”
 
 
A father doesn’t allow a child to be a child always but wants the child to be a child only when he wants. But father wants to be a father all the time. In this case, a child becomes a teddy bear. That is why, people asks this question to kids, “Are you mother’s pet or father’s pet?”. “When someone asked me this question in my childhood, I replied that I am not a pet and I don’t want to be one ! I am a child !!” 
 
 
Every parent should understand that they are helping the children and thereby, they are also growing. Instead of helping the child, parents try to bargain with the child. It becomes a business when parents invest time and money instead of spending time and money with their children. Expecting some returns, parents invest in their children. Parents must learn to spend and not to invest.
 
 
Every child has its own way of living. If parents can guide the child, they can. If parents are unable to guide, they should be humble and honest in front of the children. The best appreciation a parent can get in this world is a child saying that the parents are humble (Absolute silence). But most of the parents pretend as they know everything and exercise their seniority and authority over the children. 
 
 
What a parent should do is allow the child to live by communicating to the child, whatever the parent knows, whenever required. But most of the parents impose all their ideas to their children. If a child has a standpoint, parents have to listen to the standpoint, accept it and communicate their standpoint to the child. Psychologists highlight that, when a child is not appreciated or recognized by the parents in childhood, that child will have psychological problems later. 
 
 
Parents have to help the child in all the ways, be it economical, educational, way of living etc. If the parents can’t help, it is better not to destroy the child by imposing all the ideas and creating a psychological damage. So, parents should be humble, should not humiliate and understand the fact that they were also once a child to their parents. Real parenting is to give the freedom to the child and become a free person. Parents should allow the child to grow, by keeping an eye on the children. 
 
 
Parents should be very strict to the child till their 5 years of age. After 5 years, the child should be allowed to grow and should keep monitoring the child. This should continue till the second phase of teen age. After the second phase of the teen age, parents should be a friend to their child. This should not go other way around. If parents become a friend to their child before their teen age, it will be dangerous and if they cannot become friend after their teen age, it will be dangerous as well. Parents have to understand that child is their teacher and child helps in their growth. And this healthy attitude will help both children and parents to grow up in their life.
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