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What is the role of parents in child development?

You are as old in parenting as your first child. You evolve as a parent as you learn the likes and dislikes of your baby. When is she hungry? Or what makes her comfortable before sleeping at night? Then as she grows, you keep learning more - is she the shy type who always finds it convenient to sit in your lap? Or the playful one going out and exploring on her own? So, what is your role here? What is the role of parents?

Children bring with them, their personalities at birth, you have to just help and nurture them so that they flourish - says Gnani Purush Dadashri. Like the seeds which bring with them what tree they will grow into: orange or apple - so would your baby. She brings with her the seed karma she would grow into. There is nothing like, orange is better than apple or vice versa. All personalities are unique and when nurtured in the right way will blossom beautifully. Just look around, and you will find many successful people, who are either introvert or extrovert. There is no stereotype like one is better or happier than other.

Let’s us understand the role of a mother and role of a father in nurturing the child.

Understand Parents duty

Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan says:

  • Being a parent is a greater responsibility than even that of a Prime Minister. As a parent, if you were to do something wrong, it would hurt your own child.”
  • “The children that are born to us, we are not free from our responsibility towards them. They should be given good values.”
  • “Your duty as a parent should be to nurture and raise your child well and direct him on the right path. If he speaks to you in a disrespectful manner, and you do the same to him, he will become rebellious. Instead, you should sit and explain things to him in a gentle and loving manner. This is the primary role of parents in child life. There should be a spiritual understanding behind all your acts.”
  • Once you fulfill your duty to educate them and give them a good upbringing and when they are well established, you need not give them financial support.

Here are a few practical ways to fulfill our duty as a parent:

1. Clean all corners of life

Parents should understand how to live life. Don’t just run after making money. Keep taking care of your health. Be attentive to your health, wealth and the moral upbringing of children. All the corners of life have to be cleaned up.

You should sit down with your children every night and explain things to them, converse with them. All children need is a little prompting. They already have cultural values, but they need prompting.

2. Sharing responsibilities between mother and father

Discuss and divide the responsibilities of children amongst the parents Ideally, until the age of fourteen, a child needs more of mother’s love and attention. Let her take care and take the decision of daily routines. Fathers generally need to get involved in life impacting decisions like which school to get your child admission into, what career to pursue etc. After the age of fifteen, let the father take a lead role in child development. This is a critical role of father in child development.

The all-round parenting approach: Comprehensive roles of responsible parenthood

No excessive attention

This is a critical role of parents in child development. Give the child some household chores or ask them to help in your business work from a very young age, so they value what they have and have a sense of ownership. There are parent types who are over authoritative by always giving instructions and rules to the kids or overprotective always trying to please their child. Excessive attention suffocates the growing child. Let them fail; waste stuff and evolve as they experience. 

Teach the child to face life courageously

The struggle of a butterfly emerging from cocoon makes it strong to face the world; else it will be crippled. Remember that taking too much care of even a child may make him crippled. A bit of resistance, struggle, turns out to be a blessing for a child’s talent to develop. Only in the midst of adverse circumstances does a child pave a new path to reach the peaks of success. Teach the child to face life and failure courageously. Always motivate the child before facing any challenge, and never criticize for any failure. Instead, ask them about what lesson they learned or how would they do it next time. 

Love in one eye and strictness in the other eye

At times, children go on to the wrong path because of the provocation by parents. Therefore, bring about normality in everything. Maintain love in one eye, and strictness in the other. Strictness does not harm the other person much; anger causes a lot of damage. Strictness does not mean anger, but it means to ‘blow off hot air’. You have to say everything, but dramatically. What is considered to be drama? It means to pull on the chain of calmness and then show the anger.

When to encourage and when not to

This parents’ role is perhaps a tricky one. A father was delighted when his son was tugging at his moustache. “Just look at him, he is pulling my moustache!” he said. If you allow him to do as he pleases, and you don’t say anything to the child, he will never know that it is wrong. The child looks for knowledge by observing the reaction in each incident. If nothing else is done, then just give a slight pinch so the child realizes that he is doing something wrong. He will attain the knowledge that ‘This conduct that I am doing, is wrong.’ A beating should not be given; just a tiny pinch will suffice.

So he should know that whenever he pulls on the moustache, then in return he gets a pinch. If you encourage him in it saying, “Very good, I have an excellent son,” then he receives encouragement and then he will pull even more next time! Each time he does something wrong, explain to him that it is wrong. It should come into his realization. Otherwise, he will believe that what he is doing is correct. That is why he ends up on the wrong path. Therefore, you should tell the child.

When something good has been done, then you have to praise him for that. And where should he get patted? On the back where you would pat someone! Then his ego gets encouraged. Therefore, he will do a good job once more. The ego of a young child is in a latent state. The ego is present, but it remains in a compressed state. It sprouts as the child grows older. A child will only be good as long as you do not feed water to his ego unnecessarily. If his ego does not get food from you, then the child will become inculcated with excellent values (sanskar).

Don’t control; Shower Love from the heart

This is most important role of parents. When you speak to your children, it should not be with an authoritative tone. For example, if a child gets 60 % marks and shows to the father, the father should say that ‘It is good that you have passed the exam, but this is not sufficient. I expect from you that you get 85 % and become a good engineer’, then leave the topic. After that, don’t keep on reminding him that you told him to get good marks. He will have it in his mind. If you keep on nagging, he will ignore your words.

After a few months, when you see his results, if he gets 75 %, then encourage him saying, “Your marks have increased. You have a very high potential to excel. If you concentrate more, I am sure, you can reach great heights. I am confident that you can get 85 % to 90 %”, and leave the topic. It is important to encourage the child.

Whenever they make mistakes, explain it with lots of love. You should say it, but there is a way it should be said. You should stop speaking before they close the door on you. If you wait until the point where he is driven to close the door on you, then your words will go in vain. So there should not be any authoritative tone, especially with grown-up children.

Maintain Friendship

  • Param Pujya Dadashri explains that until the child is seven to eight years and makes a mistake – the parents have to guide them and even discipline them if necessary. Till the age of twelve to fifteen you can guide them, but after sixteen you have to be friends.
  • If you become a friend to your children, they will improve. But if you assert your authority as a parent, you will risk losing them. Your friendship should be such that the child will not go looking for comfort and guidance elsewhere. You should do everything a friend would do, with your child; play games, sports, drink tea together, etc. Only then will he remain yours, otherwise you will end up losing him.
  • First, you should make the decision that you want to live with them as friends, and then you will be able to do so.
  • If your friend is doing something wrong, how far will you go to caution him? You would only give him advice to the point where he listens, but you would not nag him. If he does not listen, then you would tell him that the decision is his.
  • To be a friend to your child, you have to accept that from the worldly perspective you are his father, but in your mind, you should think of yourself as being his son. When the father comes down to the level of his child, he will be accepted as a friend. There is no other way to become a friend.

Improve Yourself

This is the biggest and subtlest role of parents. Pure love will arise within you only when you are pure, i.e., free from anger, pride, deceit, greed etc. If you improve, then everything will improve just by your presence. The one who first improves himself can then improve others.Who can be referred to as improved? Even when you scold, the child will still see the love behind it. You may rebuke, but if it is done with love, then the other person will improve. If the parents are good, then the children will be good, they will be sensible. Do penance yourself, but make the children rich in moral values.

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