Matthew 22:37-40 – The greatest two commands are to love God and love our neighbor. The basis of any good relationship is love, because love leads us to seek the wellbeing of others. It leads us to do what is best for others (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5).
Love is not always easy and pleasant; sometimes parents need “tough love.” Let us consider what love leads parents to do and what it leads them to not do.
Love of parents towards their children is the most natural thing, love for children is not something that can be taught nor needs to be taught, parents naturally have love for their children & nobody needs to tell them that you should love your children. Does anybody have to tell you, you should breathe, it’s ridiculous to tell you, “you know what, that you should breathe” –it is natural.
It’s just as breathing is natural – Love of parents towards children is natural. But Parenting is an ART. Art is something that requires proper Knowledge,Training, Practice and it’s only after that – there is perfection.Love doesn’t requires any instructions, but parenting being an Art and like any art form it has to be developed and one has to become an expert at it, of course love is such a mighty force that this Art of Parenting – people learn so quicklybecause of that love that parents have towards children.One will wonder that why do parents have to be taught parenting – this art very often we learn from our parents only – isn’t it? And who could be our greatest teachers in parenting other than our own parents – because we as children know where they were right and where they were wrong and therefore the art of parenting we learn naturally from our parents and that’s what we transfer to our children.
It is such a joy bringing up children as you know, but all parents are anxious that – are we doing the right job with our children, whatever we are guiding them, will it make them happy children – successful children. However these days what is happeningis that we have associated happiness with success and success also means very often material success.Happiness and Success – both are important one cannot say that we don’t want our children to be prosperous, they should be, but we should not equate the two as same. We have to teach our children how to be happy and we have to also teach them how to be successful. If they are happy they are successful, but if they are monetarily successful it doesn’t guarantee happiness.This is the first thing we have to be clear of, because so much emphasis is on children studying and studying…!!! And everybody coming first, everybody getting in to IIT or getting in to major university. But first thing I would like to share with parents is, each child even born of your genes is different from each other.Boys and girls are different from each other, your two sons, your two daughters will be different from each other and no one is better than other because each one has got their own uniqueness.Each one has their own specialty and first thing is parents must tune up to that which is special in each child of theirs.The biggest mistake that people do in parenting is compare one child to the other child. If one child is good in studies “can’t you see your brother how he studies” and you know when you yourself heard something like this, this was most difficult thing to hear from your parents.Sometimes we just accept it, but this is one of the major causes of creating not only jealousy between siblings but very often complexes. Never compare two children, don’t tell – be like you sister or brother &specially in studies, because some may be good in certain subject some may not be good in other subjects and each one is unique and just like us they never like comparisons.Suppose your mother-in-law tells -my first daughter-in-law is better, why don’t you behave like her – she is so traditional and you are so Modern – yourimmediate response will be – I’m not like her – she is uneducated &I’m educated. Understand children may not voice it but they definitely not like it. If you have to bring up their unique potential, its only parents who can recognize it.
Khalil Gibran had said in very beautiful words – in his book ‘The Prophet’, he says,
“The first thing the parents should remember that children are through you, they don’t belong to you, they belong to life, you are only instrument through which they have come forth in Life, they have come with their destiny, you can only help them to reach their destiny, you can make it easy for them to reach their destiny, but you are not the maker of their destiny” and therefore he gives a beautiful example – that a child is like an arrow which the master has already set the mark and you are like the bow through which the arrow is shot out to reach its destination – to reach its goal, to reach its mark. Just as the arrow is dear to God so is the bow that bends to his might.He says so clearly – do not drag your children to the past because you can never go there, they are your future, let them guide you to the future, rather than you take them to your dead past. What a beautiful example to mediate upon, where you understand that the role of a parent is not useless, just as the bow that bends and gives the strength for the arrow to move ahead , that is the role of parents & teachers, not to make their destiny but to guide them to their destiny. Don’t try to make them into your image, do not live your unfulfilled desires through them, do not live your revenge through them, do not live your complexes through them but rather let them free you from your complexes, let them help you to forgive – like children forgive all your grievance.
In fact children are our best guides. We have to recognize that they exist – they are unique and each one has come with their destiny and you can only facilitate it.Once this is clear then the remaining art of parenting is very simple.
I often heard from my dad talking about What should be our relationship with our children at the different ages?
For the first 5 years of the child – give so much affection don’t pamper the child – there is a difference.Giveso much love to the child. Now what is the difference that we find today in the west- parents all love their children whether in the west or east. Nobody can say that parents don’t love their children,again it’s the parenting that makes the difference.Both working parent, young parents, unmarried parents, single parent,when such things happens – the child is sent off to day care centers at the age of 2 itself.The child doesn’t get time to bond with his or her parent and particularly the mother at that time. If you read any modern western book on psychology you will find that it seems the major problem of everybody’s life is their parents and we who have been brought up by our loving parents I could not even imagine that parents can be a problem to the children.But today we begin to see that the most of the complexes, most of the difficulties, most of the insecurities that people have today – even at old age – very often has been induced by parents. Parents who are supposed to be like gods in our lives seem to have become very enemies of their children.Children grow up hating their parents and yet there is a bond that you cannot give up and seems that most of the complexes that they have is due to the parents.Because words of the parents are so important to the children – parents very often keep on saying – “you are not clever your brother is clever”.That I am not clever goes down so deeply in to subconscious becauseit’s the parents’ words. Parents &teachers’ wordsare so strong on those innocent minds, they believe in it and it then becomes their personality. Therefore very carefully we have to saywhat we tell our children.Very often we keep on saying you are dumb, you are bad, you misbehaved, and constantly we are pointing out theirnegativities.Therefore if you see most of the upbringing of the children – we often teach them what they can’t do rather than what they can do, isn’t? If you see the first vocabulary the child picks up is not ‘Yes’- but ‘No’.You watch your children today you will find constantly children using the word ‘No’because probably they hear that the maximum – from their teachers and from their parents. These days very often parents don’t have time. Give the childrenlove and affection – give them time.That is where the child bonds with the parents and when that bonding takes place – the security elements come in the love, they feel secured.
Till five years of age, children are to be treated as Kings. Children at this stage do not know how to care for themselves or express their specific needs. Thus all their needs need to be catered to without them asking. Hence, learning at this stage happens only by enhancing the environment in which children observe and experiment out of their own curiosity and for their own enjoyment. The better the environment we can provide the better they flourish. The environment includes, what they hear, what they see and sense, types of people they interact with, and the types of things they interact with. That is why parents need to be extra vigilant of the influences they expose their children to at this stage.
Beyond five years, children start expressing themselves and their own self-preservation kicks in. Thus, the next ten years, children need to be treated by inculcating Discipline, Attitudes & Habits in them. It is in this formative stage that children are learning about the world in a systematic and structured manner. At this age we should educate them, education does not mean reading books and learning Physics, Chemistry, biology, this is the time teach them about “Secrets of LIFE”, that’s the time we should give them values to live their life happily, cultivate their attitudes & habits. They are learning about the laws of nature and the rules of conducting themselves in the world. Without a certain discipline, it is very difficult to learn anything significant.
Beyond fifteen years of age, children have matured and are disciplined in life. At this stage they are to be treated as friends or equals. The onus of learning is now mostly on the student. They can learn by discussion and brainstorming with peers and by enquiry and listening to experienced elders or experts.Very often I hear parents saying all our kids are married – Now “OUR KIDS” are all married, we keep forgetting they have become adults now they are no longer kids, of course parents love for children always be, but this time we have to realize they have become adults, even at the age of 25 or 35 they are called kids.
Researchers have uncovered convincing links between parenting styles and the effects these styles have on children. During the early 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study on more than 100 preschool-age children. Using naturalistic observation, parental interviews and other research methods,. Further research by Maccoby and Martin also suggested the addition of a fourth parenting style. The four parenting styles are Authoriatarian Parenting, Authoritative Parenting, Permissive Parenting &Uninvolved Parenting. And it is been said Authoritative parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable and successful.
Let me tell you my dear parents, One of the fundamental keys in parenting is that we must actively be demonstrating to our children that God’s way works for us! By the example of our own lives, we must be able to show our children that God’s principles will bring joy to their lives far beyond what Satan’s system has to offer. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). If you ask people on the street whether they would like to have a life full of love, joy and peace, universally they will say: “Absolutely!” The problem is that the average person today does not recognize the principles of God as the cause that will bring the effect of a very stable and joyous life. This occurs primarily because the world has not been called to true Christianity; rather, it is exposed to a false “so-called” Christianity. We as parents must expose our children to the truth of the Bible; not just in the truth (doctrine) we teach, but also in the truth we live. If children experience a parent who gives unconditional love, has clear-cut rules that are consistently reinforced and genuinely displays the fruits of God’s Spirit, it will not be difficult for them to develop respect and obedience to God as they grow up. –
So we parents have a very high calling. Our God is training us as His children inHis image! In turn, God is calling us to train and shape our children’s young impressionable minds in His image. This is a lofty goal in a dark and dangerous world. But as a loving parent, God promises that: “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper'” (Hebrews 13:5–6). The closer we move to our Father, the more we will in our own lives emulate His qualities as the perfect parent. Every last parent has made mistakes in parenting, but God knows that parents, like their children, are capable of learning and changing.
Yes, this is easier said than done, but with God’s guidance there is real hope. If we maintain the guiding principle of rearing children “in God’s image,” we will have all the resources of the Creator God to draw on.