As my little one is growing up, I am having a lot of sleepless nights. The cause: what type of parenting values should I give to my child?
During my growing up years, my parents would tell:
- Do not tell lies. The truth shall always prevail.
- Do not think ill of others/do bad to others. What goes around comes around!
- Don’t be selfish. Help others in need.
- Be pleasant and friendly to everyone.
- Respect people.
- Share your things with others.
- Adopt qualities like Lord Rama.
They are all sound advice and most of them still hold true in today’s world. Yes, only most of them. There are a few which need to be revised or tailored as per today’s needs. With every parenting value above, there is a clause attached.
Do no tell lies: We tell our kids not to lie ever, don’t we? But then we lie in front of them for every small thing. Like, when we skip work for one day to attend a family wedding and call up the superior saying ‘I am not well’. What sort of teaching are we giving to our child? We are teaching him to lie. Or at best, we are teaching him that such white lies are harmless, hence perfectly ok?
Do not harm anybody: What if a bully hurt your child on the playground? Will you still teach your child to not harm him? I remember my mother telling me don’t bother, God will punish him for his wrong-doing. The problem is that with today’s generation who wants results there and then, it’s cold comfort. They are not going to wait forever for the God to punish the bully.
Be pleasant and friendly: Yes, that’s a good advice. But in case, somebody is nasty to you, what then?
Learn to say ‘No’: My parents brought me up in such a way that it’s very difficult for me to say no to people and most often than not, I end up saying ‘yes’ even when I mean ‘no’. And when I do say ‘no’, I feel guilty later. I don’t want that to happen to my child. She needs to be assertive.
Respect people: Which people? We need to be very specific. Kids are very smart. Since a very young age, they start gathering a little understanding about people. Who is good, who is bad? They start forming their own opinion. It will be very difficult for him to respect someone who has been mean to you or him.
Be like Lord Rama: I am not sure if anybody says that to their kids anymore. Lord Rama is called as the ‘best among the men’ because of his (unworldly) virtues like indefinite patience, ability to forgive, keeping difficult promises, always putting others before his own needs etc. Now tell me, if you tell the kids to do that, will they?
These values look very appealing in a book, but can we live life as per bookish rules? Do these still hold as true as in the bygone era? Life is all about survival and we all know only the fittest survives. So can I take a chance with my kid being innocent, soft and emotional who gets taken for a ride?
No, I need to make her strong and street smart; a citizen of this world who:
- Will lie if it’s absolutely necessary and doesn’t harm anybody. She should of course know the difference when and where the lie is appropriate.
- Will be nice and respectful to people who reciprocate.
- Will not be a softie who gets exploited for her goodness and generosity.
- Will help people but not at the cost of her safety and security.
- Imbibe qualities like Lord Rama. No way! Mythological characters can’t survive in the present world.
I know what I have written is controversial. But all that I have written has come from first-hand experience. A nice person is not always seen in favourable light in this world. Even though Bhagvad Gita teaches you to just do your karma or action and forget about the results; it’s really difficult to apply in your life.
Let me know your thoughts on this matter. What parenting values you are giving to your kid(s)? Are you happy with the results?