One need not search the horizon, or every home, to find out the raison d'être of parental expectations. Commonplace examples tell us that children, whose parents are doctors, have it all worked out, willy-nilly, for example, in their minds. Most of them follow a pattern: emulating their parents’ examples, and fulfilling their ‘dreams.’
Be that as it may, many parents, in the troubled times we now live in, seem to have developed a realistic outlook, thanks to several modalities involved in pursuing such fancies. A majority of today’s parents would want their children to ‘respect’ them, because they ought to, not because they wish to.
This, indeed, is a great expectation... more so, because of the generation gap that exists between parents and children in this Age of the Infobahn.
This actually ain’t the right thing to do to bridge the growing gap. So, you’d ask — what is right? Here it is:
A spiritual inclination towards parental task is an idea whose time has come, with or without “initiation.”
It is a vision that is keyed to a deep personal conviction. Of parenting as a spiritual force, a structure, or worship, and also an acceptable attitude towards children — the heart of any reverential approach to life. Because, in many ways, a teacher is a parent; a coach is a parent; a counsellor is a parent; a politician — believe it or not! — is a parent; or, even a simple voter is a parent.
Also, we should think of ourselves as parents in the gentlest sense of the term — a guardian of the young. Because, our relationship with a child is a sacred trust — and, that is the premise of this article: spiritual parenting.
Reason? Under no circumstance can anything be more important than protecting and nourishing children in our care!
It goes without saying that none of the heinous acts recorded in human history would have occurred if children had been the world’s priority. As inspirational writers, Hugh and Gayle Prather, put it: “Nothing justifies anger towards your child… You may get angry — most of us quite frequently do — but never is it justified. There will be times when you need to be firm even with an infant; times when you must intervene in your teenager’s life and say no; times when you will have to pick up your three-year-old and carry him or her kicking and screaming from the room. But, there will never be a time when you must speak or act from anger rather than love. No matter how long you have pursued an arbitrary punishment, or how deep into your abusive lecture you have gone, it is never too late to change your course.”
If discipline with the wisdom of sustained commitment to a goal is strength worth pursuing, one is often appalled at the way this term is habitually used vis-à-vis children. The Prathers add: “By way of generalization, discipline means punishment, and vice versa: a concept that is in direct conflict, if not a corollary, for those who wish to approach parenting as a spiritual pursuit. The guidance you envisage to give your child should be more like the touch of a butterfly on a flower than the heavy hand of domination that breaks the will. In other words, one should always seek to assist children to see the path clearly: a route, which does not place a precedence in dispensing rules, regulations and righteousness.”
It is a simple fact of life that most of us summon our spiritual strength, or at least seek guidance, when we, and our children, are in a crisis. But, the more difficult challenge of good parenting is remembering to turn off our conflicted mind to our peaceful mind when making those little everyday, non-dramatic choices that have such a powerful, cumulative effect on our children. On the other hand, one finds it shocking if parents use their kids’ desires as leverage. That’s not loving. In other words, it is only a cheap way of asking them to sell their souls. For some parents, such manipulation maybe in the form of [un]conscious response: “You can have it as soon as you become the person I want you to be.”
Other notable examples: a neat, tidy person; a punctual person; an academically-oriented person, and/or something else. This is not practical. For one simple reason: many of the world’s geniuses, mystics and innovators were not tidy, out-going, punctual, or especially polite. You’d reel off a few of those names — without difficulty. Right? Yes, indeed!
Easier said than done, or so you’d think? Because, there are no rules, no magic formulae, no doctrine, science, teaching, or philosophy, that parents can safely consult on what to do, or not to do, in any given situation, and with a particular child? Perhaps. Yet, spiritual parenting, which you, on your own, could cultivate as a concept maybe practiced — to help you become a better parent.
However, it all boils down to one thing. It is always advisable to approach child-care as a spiritual task, and also as a radically new, essential focus amidst the perplexing complexities involved in guiding children towards adulthood — irrespective of the fact whether you, as a parent believe in God, spirituality, religion, or not.
Most important: parents need to be action-oriented, explore, understand, and nurture the heart of every child... in the best way possible, with lots of patience, warmth, love and sympathy.
The results would be immense.