The Toronto Chinmaya Mission held Family Spiritual Camp at Brock University, St. Catharine's Canada from July 12 to 18, 1997. During this camp, Svami Tejomayananda, the Head of Chinmaya Mission worldwide was approached by several parents who asked for Svamiji's advice on matters relating to parenting, particularly of teenagers.
In response to these requests, Svamiji held two "Satsangs" in which he talked about this matter quite exhaustively from a spiritual as well as practical viewpoint.
Although these talks were specially directed to parents of Indian origin who are raising their children in the West, all parents will find these talks extremely helpful.
The talks were so well-received by the audience at the camp that it was decided to publish them in printed format to make them available to the general public. The result is this booklet.
We hope that the readers will find the vision as well as the practical guidelines contained herein useful is raising their children.
About the book:
"A child learns a lot of things primarily at home, from his parents. The child invariably looks upon his parents, for reassurances, protection and support. If the parents argue loudly and quarrel with each other, fear and uncertainty develops in the child's mind. It affects the entire personality of the child."
"To understand out true potential, we need to study skills in depth and consciously improve them to maximise our performance. Human beings are sensitive creatures. Through caring we will be able to help children express themselves better and in the process take the initiative for their own performance. Every human being invariably wants to be loved and cared for". Excerpts from Talks on Parenting at Toronto, Canada.
Today's satsang is specially focussed on a particular theme, which is a matter of interest and concern to all parents who have growing children. Those who have very small children are also concerned as to how to really educate them or look after them. Parents whose children are already teenagers and causing worry or anxiety have more problems. Then, there are those who are recently married. They wonder as to what to do when they will have children. Parenting has always been a difficult job.
The interesting thing is that these parents want me to speak on this subject! And when I give them certain advice or suggestions, they say, "Swamiji! that is alright for you to say, but only if you had children of your own, you would have understood our situation"!
So, first of all let me tell you that I have not selected this topic on my own. Many parents have come to me for advice. In a way they are right in asking me for advice because sometimes, if one is not a parent, one can look at things more objectively. And particularly so if one is a student of spiritual knowledge or Vedanta. When parents go for advice to a person who is worldly minded, the advice that they receive from the worldly standpoint doesn't solve their problems. So, first of all let me tell you that even though I don't have any children of my own, I was born and brought up in a family. I have not come down from the sky! So I also have seen what family life is, with parents, brothers and sisters. And, even though I didn't cause too many problems to my parents, I might have caused a few at least. Secondly, we, as teachers of Vedanta, see other individuals growing up. For example, when we conduct the Vedanta courses for the Brahmacaris, that experience also teaches us a lot. Many young people come to these courses. To look after them and to take care of them is not very easy.
So the problem is how to take care of these children, especially teenagers, who can be very rebellious, revolting and resistant. The more we want to teach or advise, the more they revolt. So then sometimes, we feel frustrated and feel like throwing up our hands in utter despair. What to do then? The question arises whether we should allow them to do what they want to do or we should force them to do what we want them to do. So the question is one of 'either' 'or'. These questions cannot be answered in 'either' 'or' language, because there is no such hard and fast rule. Every individual is very unique. No principle or set of rules can really be effective all the time. This reminds me of a particular statement that I have quoted many times before.
There are parents whose children are well behaved. So they say, "Swamiji! we are very lucky. Our children are good only due to God's grace". Sometimes they give credit to God. That is great. Others give credit to themselves. Whichever way the parents think, it is alright.
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