“A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark.” Yes, true to the Chinese proverb children are a mass of flesh and blood, akin to soft clay. This is something that can be moulded any which way one likes. The moulding is parenting; it projects the art of converting a sensitive mass of gene pool into a society of achievers.
The story of Abhimanyu in the Mahabharata is interesting. Abhimanyu learnt the art of fighting battles, when in his mother’s womb, while Lord Krishna was teaching his father, Arjuna. When Abhimanyu was born, he did not forget the Lord’s subtle instructions, which he heard when he’s still ensconced in his mom’s protective milieu. When he came of age, he fought the big, royal battle and earned a name for himself. In so doing, he entered the chakravyuha, a renowned war strategy. Though he lost his life, his name remains eternal.
What we sow is what we reap, and what we teach a child is what we can expect the child to be. The sensitivities associated with a child begin from the time the child is a still a baby. Elders in every family provide advice for the mother to have good food, be calm and quiet, read the scriptures and avoid being far too emotional.
ROLE OF PARENTS
The umbilical cord that connects the mother with the child transmits the feeling the mother has, subjective or otherwise. Whilst the mother is the biological support, the father is a child’s intellectual, emotive and strategic powerhouse. He transforms this biological mass into a creative individual. George Herbert, a noted poet, orator and priest, epitomised the role of father: “One father is more than a hundred school masters.” True to every sense, each father becomes a role model to the child, especially in one’s formative years. He is the first individual a child watches from close quarters.
Parenting is an artful and critical task in every family. There are other players who perform their best in an orchestrated manner: grannies, friends, and social circuits. They all contribute in a significant way. What however sets the direction in which the future of the child, which is integral to the family, in particular, and society, in general, is greatly parent-driven, or oriented. The attributes of parenting, in this spectrum of thought, involve planning, monitoring, training, course correction, target setting, besides value imparting. It is the evolution of the child in all facets of life that leaves a bearing on one’s education, employment, marriage, ethical system, and contribution to society. The foundation of successful individuals is, put simply, always begins at home.
As the child comes of ‘age,’ a sense of self-esteem sets in, making the child think that what s/he thinks is right, and what is being told is wrong. Needless to say, adolescence blurs the vision of a child, more so when self-esteem gains solid ground. Occasional tantrums at parents, I-don’t-care-attitude, and disregard for parental advice, often coincide with such behaviours. This is a critical stage of every child — so, parents should handle them with sensitivity.
Mark Twain, the great author and humorist said, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But, when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned.” Intelligently put, a child realises what their father really is, when s/he sees the value in what has been taught earlier. Youngsters start correlating their experiences with advice given by parents in their shaping years. If this happens, it is a win-win situation for parents and children.
Now the big question: is there a model to perfect parenting?
Parenting is synonymous with creation and creativity. It has no bounds. Parenting doesn’t have contours of mapping. Every shape is appealing; every form adjustable. A few models, though well propounded, are only guidelines, because a child is a dynamic entity. The variables at work include heredity, environment, influences, value systems, and parental attitudes. When they work in harmony, evolution is good; if they work with a cross-purpose, society has a problem in store.
It is precisely here that parenting becomes demanding. If only the dynamic setting includes good values, relationships, respect for humanity, urge to serve and be good to one and all, the outcome will be on anticipated lines. This is the need of the hour in our troubled times, as hatred and one-upmanship widely prevail, be it of individuals, or of nations. The off-shoots of such ego-positions are palpable — they result in derailment of values associated with human existence.
We live in distressed times, exposed as we are to good and bad. It is, therefore, imperative for us to ponder — are we doing enough to correct our home, society and nation. The need of the hour is honest re-evaluation — a practical reassessment to creating a gene pool of good individuals and talent. Of a credo that celebrates our own existence — and, also living in peace and harmony with oneself and others.