Parenting Advice – 5 Essential Parenting Skills
Sadhguru: Parenthood is a very funny thing. You are trying to do something that nobody has ever known how to do well. Even if you have twelve children, you are still learning. You may raise the first eleven properly, but the twelfth one can give you the works.
#1 Create the Right Atmosphere
Creating the necessary ambience is a large part of parenthood. You must create the right kind of atmosphere – a certain sense of joy, love, care and discipline both within yourself and in your home. The only thing that you can do to your child is to give him love and support. Create a loving atmosphere for him where intelligence will naturally flower. A child looks at life pristinely. So you sit with him and look at life fresh, like he does. Your child need not do what you did in life. Your child should do something that you did not even have the courage to think about. Only then will this world progress and something happen.
A basic responsibility that humanity has to fulfill is to ensure that the next generation of human beings is at least one step ahead of you and me. It is extremely important that the next generation should live a little more joyfully, with less fear, less prejudice, less entanglement, less hatred, less misery. We must aim for this. Your contribution to the next generation should be that you don’t leave a brat in the world, you should leave a human being who is at least a little better than you.
#2 Know What Your Child Needs
Some parents in their aspiration or ambition to make their children super-strong, have unnecessarily put their children through too much hardship. They want their children to become what they themselves could not become. In trying to fulfill their ambitions through their children, some parents have been extremely cruel to children. Other parents, believing that they are very loving to their children have over-pampered them and made them powerless and useless in the world.
Once, there was a yogi who belonged to a certain tradition called Kashmir Shaivism. This is one of the seven forms of yoga. It is a very powerful form, but it has mostly remained in the Kashmir area, so it acquired that name. One day, this yogi saw a cocoon which was slightly cracked, and the butterfly inside was really struggling to come out – the cocoon shell was too hard. Usually, the butterfly struggles constantly for almost forty-eight hours to come out of the cocoon. If it does not come out, it will die. The yogi saw this and out of his compassion he used his nail and opened the cocoon so that the butterfly could come free. But when it came out, it could not fly. It is that struggle to break out of the cocoon which empowers the butterfly to use its wings and fly. What is the use of a butterfly that cannot fly? A lot of people, in what they think is love for their children, have made their children like this. The children don’t fly in their life.
There is no standard rule for all children. Each child is different. It is a certain discretion. No perfect line can be drawn as to how much to do and not do. Different children may need different levels of attention, love and toughness. If you were to come and ask me while I am standing in the coconut garden, “How much should I water each plant?” I would say “A minimum of fifty liters.” But if you go home and pour 50 liters for your rose plant, it will die. So you must see what kind of plant you have in your house.
#3 Learn From Your Child
Most adults assume that as soon as a child is born, it is time to become teachers. When a child enters your house, it is not the time to become a teacher, it is time to learn, because if you look at yourself and your child, your child is more joyous, isn’t it? So it is time you learn life from them, not the other way around. The only thing that you can teach your child – which you have to, to some extent – is how to survive. But when it comes to life itself, a child knows more about life experientially, by himself. He is life; he knows it. Even with you, if you take away the influences you have imposed upon your mind, your life energies know how to be. It is only your mind which doesn’t know how to be. An adult is capable of all kinds of sufferings – imagined sufferings. A child has still not gone to that. So it is time to learn, not teach.
#4 Just Let Him Be
If parents are truly concerned about their children, they must raise their children in such a way that the child will never have any need for the parent. The process of loving should always be a liberating process, not an entangling process. So when the child is born, allow the child to look around, spend time with nature and spend time with himself. Create an atmosphere of love and support and don’t try to impose your morals, ideas, religion or whatever in any way. Just allow him to grow, allow his intelligence to grow and help him look at life on his own terms, as a human being – not identified with the family, or your wealth or whatever else. Just helping him to look at life as a human being is very essential for his wellbeing and the wellbeing of the world. Always, the parent encouraging the child to learn to think for himself, to use his own intelligence to see what is best for him is the best insurance you have so that the child grows up well.
#5 Be a Joyful, Peaceful Being
If you want to bring up your child well, the first thing is, you should be happy. But you, by yourself do not know how to be happy. Every day in your house, when tension, anger, fear, anxiety and jealousy are the only things that are being demonstrated to your child, what is going to happen to him? He will obviously learn only these, isn’t it? If you really have the intention of bringing up your child well, you should change yourself to be a loving, joyous and peaceful being. If you are incapable of transforming yourself, where is the question of you bringing up your child?
If we really want to bring up our children well, first of all we must see if we can do something with ourselves. Everyone who wishes to be a parent must do one simple experiment. Let them sit down and see what is it that is not okay with their lives, and what would be good for their lives – not about the world outside, but about themselves. Something about yourself – your own behavior, speech, modes of action, and habits – if you can alter that in three months, then you would handle your child also with wisdom.
Editor’s Note: Download the ebook “Inspire Your Child, Inspire the World” for more parenting advice from Sadhguru. The book is available as “Pay As You Like.” (Set 0 for free)