Search & Read
The Dharma of a Parent
Kailesh: Namaste, Sundari Devi, my humble salutations and gratitude for your reply.
I have been devouring your ShiningWorld website, and am amazed at the clarity of thought and the explanation of teachings from Vedanta. I have been studying Vedanta for a long time, but the lucidity of your explanations drive the points home.
I will continue, as advised by you. All I seek is your blessings and guidance on this journey.
Sundari: We are very happy to hear that the knowledge is working for you, Kailesh, thank you again for your appreciation. There is nothing like Vedanta, and if properly assimilated it works to set you free of bondage to objects. ShiningWorld is a goldmine of the highest-level Vedanta you will find anywhere.
Kailesh: A question: I have two daughters, eight and five years of age. How would you advise I approach my dharma as a parent in their nurture?
Sundari: The dharma of a parent is to take care of the physical and emotional needs of the children Isvara sends you. It is also the dharma of a parent to teach children how to live in the world in a way that allows them the confidence to make healthy choices for themselves. Encourage them to develop their innate gifts and talents, so that they find their own svadharma and become independent of you as quickly as possible. If you look around it is easy to see that most parents do not have much to teach their children, because they are either still emotional children themselves or they have learned very little of value to impart.In fact very often parents are the main cause of their children’s dysfunction as adults. Many so-called adults have never individuated or become adults. Becoming an adult is not something that is a given or the result of chronology, it is something that is learned and developed as the child grows up. If the parent is not an adult, chances are very good neither will the child be.
As you are a knowledge-seeker and have assimilated many of the teachings, you have a lot to model for them and to teach. It is important to keep in mind that although they are “your” children, they are neither yours nor children, really. They are the self, appearing in small bodies entrusted to your care. The best you can do for them is to live the knowledge; teach by example and, most importantly, by what you value. Children will take on what their parent’s value by osmosis. You cannot hide much from them, they see everything.
You can teach your children Vedanta in very simple terms, like explaining how karma yoga works and how the gunas are always present. Use language they understand to identify when they are in the grip of a particular guna, you can even make a game of it by making it fun. You could make up your own names for rajas, tamas and sattva; make them paint or draw pictures of how they see these energies. This will give them the all-important ability to begin to observe themselves objectively. This lays the groundwork for discrimination, the main qualification for self-knowledge.
And when they are very demanding and want what they want, the way they want it, when they want it – teach them the value of accommodation and to let go of the results. Gently help them to move out of passion to dispassion, explaining Isvara to them in whatever cultural language works best for them. Don’t make Isvara out to be a big daddy or mummy, but the creator and sustainer of all life.
And also very important, teach your children some form of devotion. Even if it is just lighting a candle every day, something they understand and can relate to. Choose a symbol of the self; again, whatever religious or cultural background they are most familiar with is good, as long as it is not infused with fear or supplication, as long as they learn to pay attention to the beauty and abundance of the world they live in, understand how much is given to them and appreciate the value of gratitude.
I hope this helps.
~ Om namah shivaya