Be Firm But Kind

April 23, 2013 Comments Off on Be Firm But Kind

Children respond well to correction, discipline, talking and explaining, and being treated like the intelligent beings that they are. Many parents these days are afraid of their children and dance around them, as if they were things to be avoided. They bribe them with toys and sweets, bow before their every whim and appoint them, by default, the head of the house. Truly, children these days like to be told what to do, but also to be told the reasons why.

The “Obey me because I said so” stance will not work anymore for the Western-educated child. What will work is, “Obey me because this is what our family needs and wants you to do, because we love you and want you to remain a member of this family, and these are the reasons why….” This approach even a truant kid will accept, because he or she still needs to eat, still wants a roof over head, clothes to wear and, in the future, maybe a paid-for education. Less obstinate children will conform because they love their family and intuitively know how to fit in when they are urged to and have been given clear directions, explanations and expectations. Yes, there are children in the Western world who do not throw temper tantrums at home, who are still nice to their elders, who will turn off the TV when asked and even show appreciation for all that their parents have done for them.

Who are the mentors of the home, the kids or the parents? Children raised on bribery or raised in fear will in their future bribe others, subjugate others by instilling fear of their wrath and unruly ways. If you are ambivalent and insecure, your children will not listen to you. This may be embarrassing, but nonetheless true. It is not necessary to let your children go headlong into Western ways. It is not necessary or even helpful to leave them alone to find their own values in life, from the streets, from peers, from people more confused than they are. What is most helpful is for you to share with them the Eternal Path, with all of its values, all of its insight into humanity and Divinity. What is most helpful is for you to spend lots of time with your children. Many parents these days minimize the hours they spend with their kids and don’t even have time for an in-depth conversation anymore. Just “Hello” and “Good-bye” and “Why did you get a low grade on your report card?” Kids need more, more of you, more of your time, more direction and more guidance. Don’t be afraid to give to them what they need most–all of you, not just a token part. Teach them traditional religious and cultural values at an early age. Don’t be afraid that they will be different from the other children. They are already different. They are Hindus, inheritors of India’s fountainhead of mystery and Truth.

An all-pervasive mental disease has come to the planet. It started in the West and is spreading worldwide. It is the modern way that parents talk to their children, by stating a question when actually giving direction or instruction, such as, “Why don’t we all get in the car now?” “Why don’t you put on your coat?” “Don’t you think it’s time for you children to turn off the TV and go to bed?” These kinds of phrases are used in the family homes and in offices throughout the modern world. Children given the choice “Why don’t you?” before the instruction of what to do are disadvantaged. They are forced to make a yes-or-no decision before complying with the request, and sometimes it might be “no.” When undecided, children comply reluctantly. Giving these kinds of choices to young people, which is being done today even at the five-year-old level and younger, is a new way of raising them which puts parents at a disadvantage. They become beholden to their child’s every mood, thought and preference. – Sloka 23 from Dancing with Siva, by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

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