By Alison Murry, Isha Foundation
In the excerpt below, world-renowned yogi, Sadhguru, offers insights on healthier approaches to parenting for both parent and child. Sadhguru is the founder of the Isha Institute of Inner-sciences, a destination for classical yoga and meditation retreats in McMinnville, TN.
“Parenting involves a certain amount of discretion. There is no one standard rule for all children. Different children may need different levels of attention, expressions of love, and toughness. Suppose I was standing in a coconut garden and you asked me, ‘How much water per plant?’ I would say, ‘At least 50 liters per plant.’ When you go home, if you give 50 liters to your rose plant, it will die. You must see what kind of plant you have in your house and what it needs.
1. A Child is a Privilege
“It is a privilege that this child — this bundle of joy — has come through you and arrived in your house. Children are not your property; they do not belong to you. Just see how to enjoy, nurture, and support them. Don’t try to make them an investment for your future.”
2. Let Them Be
“Let them become whatever they have to become. Don’t try to mold them according to your understanding of life. Your child need not do what you did in your life. Your child should do something that you did not even dare to think in your life. Only then will the world progress.”
Children may need different levels of attention, expressions of love, and toughness.
3. True Love
People misunderstand that loving their children is to cater to whatever they ask for. If you get them everything they ask for, it is stupidity. When you are loving, you can do just whatever is needed. When you truly love someone, you are willing to be unpopular and still do what is best for them.
4. There’s No Hurry to Grow Up
It is very important a child remains a child; there is no hurry to make him into an adult because you can’t reverse it later. When he is a child and he behaves like a child, it is wonderful. When he becomes an adult and behaves like a child, that is bad. There is no hurry for a child to become an adult.
5. It is Time to Learn, Not Teach
What do you know about life to teach your children? A few survival tricks are the only things you can teach. Please compare yourself with your child and see who is capable of more joy. Your child, isn’t it? If he knows more joy than you, who is better qualified to be a consultant about life, you or him?
When a child arrives, it is time to learn, not teach. When there is a child, unknowingly you laugh, play, sing, crawl under the sofa, and do all those things that you had forgotten to do. So it is time to learn about life.
6. Children Are Naturally Spiritual
“Children are very close to a spiritual possibility if only they are not meddled with. Generally, either the parents, teachers, society, television — somebody or the other meddles with them too much. Create an atmosphere where this meddling is minimized and a child is encouraged to grow into his intelligence rather than into your identity of religion, race, culture or nation. The child will become naturally spiritual without even knowing the word spirituality as it is natural for human intelligence to seek, the important thing to do is not provide standard answers.”
7. Provide a Supportive and Loving Atmosphere
“If you set an example of fear and anxiety, how can you expect your children to live in joy? They will also learn the same thing. The best thing you can do is to create a joyous and loving atmosphere.”
8. Maintain A Friendly Relationship
“Stop imposing yourself on the child and create a strong friendship rather than being a boss. Don’t sit on a pedestal and tell the child what he or she should do. Place yourself below the child so that it is easy for them to talk to you.”
9. Avoid Seeking Respect
“Love is what you seek with your children, isn’t it? But many parents say, ‘You must respect me.’ You came a few years early, are bigger in body, and you know a few survival tricks, but in what way are you a better life than him?”
10. Make Yourself Truly Attractive
“A child is influenced by so many things — the TV, neighbors, teachers, school, and a million other things. He will go the way of whatever he finds most attractive. As a parent, you have to make yourself in a way that the most attractive thing he finds is to be with the parents. If you are a joyous, intelligent, and wonderful person, he won’t seek company anywhere else. For anything, he will come and ask you.
If you are genuinely interested in giving your children a good upbringing, you should first transform yourself into a peaceful, loving and blissful human being.”
As Outreach Coordinator for Isha Foundation, USA, Alison Murry draws on over 25 years of experience in training, education and communications in health science, wellness, and holistic living. Alison has been a daily practitioner of classical yoga and meditation since it cured her of severe spinal pain in 1998.