Q: Teenagers are under a lot of pressure academically and socially. How can children create the right balance between continuing to move forward in their lives and getting the grades that they need to get, whether they be As, or Bs, or Cs or anything in the middle, and still accomplish the balance of joy and a path they can feel good about?

Sadhguru: If you look at the education a child goes through, you spend a certain number of years to learn the alphabet. To learn to write and read sentences, you spend a certain number of years. To learn a certain amount of mathematics, you invest some years. Why is it that there is no time given to learn the ways of how you function from within? It is because we have set a priority in society that it is not important. I am saying this with utmost pain – I was told that over 3000 children attempt suicide in the United States every day. In India, over 10,000 children commit suicide every year. How can we ignore this aspect of life? Have we lost our sense?

A Child Needs an Ecosystem

You cannot correct this just by working with the children. A child needs an ecosystem. This is where we have missed out in the things we are doing in the world today. Recently, someone sent me a gift – a spray which is supposed to be a good bacteria spray. I am supposed to spray it on myself. They told me that if you spray the bacteria, your skin will be healthy, if you spray it on your head, your hair will be healthy! Why do I need bacteria? I did not grow up in a laboratory. I grew up on this planet which is full of bacteria. What I am saying is, your life does not happen in exclusivity. This life happens in inclusivity. The ecological disaster that is happening on the planet is happening because we thought we could eliminate everything and we would live well. It does not work like that. It needs an ecosystem.

A child needs an ecosystem. What kind of things are they exposed to, what are they doing with their lives, where are we trying to drive them?

The same goes for your child. A child needs an ecosystem. What kind of things are they exposed to, what are they doing with their lives, where are we trying to drive them? We must understand that a child, particularly a youth, means humanity in the making. Even with a car, you expect the next model to be better than the current model. If the car company keeps manufacturing the same model, will you buy it every year? Similarly, the next generation should not think, feel and act the same as you do. That should not be the expectation. At the same time, whether they are working towards their wellbeing or not is definitely a concern for the parent.

A child’s wellbeing cannot happen just by fixing that one child. We need an ecosystem because a child is not independent of the atmosphere in which he or she grows up. A child is a product of that atmosphere. We have to cultivate the atmosphere. If we want flowers, we have to maintain the atmosphere. We cannot pull flowers out of the plant. It does not work like that. We will end up with plastic flowers if we try that.

Don’t Expect Roses…

Most parents do not cultivate the genius of their children. They are trying to drive their children in a particular direction. Do not drive. You cannot get rose flowers from a plant that is not a rose plant. It will come out with a different kind of flower. You should not expect rose flowers out of everything just because you like rose flowers. You have a new and fresh life in your home. We do not know what will come out of it.

When the child was inside, you did nothing, right? Just nourished yourself well and waited. Just like that – provide the atmosphere and wait.

When I was a youth, if someone told me to do this or that, I would not do it unless it made sense to me. The only thing in my life that paid off for me was that I never got influenced by anybody, either the family, the society, the religious atmosphere or the political atmosphere. I just kept myself the way the creator made me. I kept myself a little aloof from everything, and I saw slowly, there is a certain intelligence just to be alive.

This is why I tell people that to bear and raise a child, you must have either enormous courage or enormous wisdom. Because a new life is not a small thing. If you see it as a phenomenon which blossomed in your body, came out and is growing – out of two cells, life is happening in front of you, taking shape – if you watch it with utter wonder and create the right kind of atmosphere, your child will grow into something beautiful. But they may not be the rose flower that you expected. They need not become what you expect because your expectations are coming from the graveyard of the past. Children belong to the future.

Children do not belong to you, and  they do not come from you. They only come through you. It is a privilege that we must appreciate and enjoy, rather than thinking it is our right or trying to determine where they should go and what they should do. As long as they are working towards their wellbeing and they are not doing something negative against their own life, you must wait. For the entire time until the child becomes twenty-one, you must feel like you are still pregnant. Just wait. When the child was inside, you did nothing, right? Just nourished yourself well and waited. Just like that – provide the atmosphere and wait.

Editor’s Note: Download the free ebook “Inspire Your Child, Inspire the World” for more of Sadhguru’s wisdom on parenting.