Being a parent is a very funny thing. You are trying to do something that no one has ever really known how to do very well before. Even if you have twelve children: You are still learning. You can bring up the first eleven properly. But the twelfth can give you the works.
#1 Create the Right Atmosphere
A big part of parenting is creating the right atmosphere. You have to create the right atmosphere – a certain kind of joy, a certain kind of love, a certain kind of care and discipline both in yourself and in your home. Giving love and support is the only thing you can do for your child. Create for him a loving atmosphere in which intelligence will naturally flourish. A child has a very primitive view of life. So sit with him. Look at life as he does. Your child does not have to do what you have done in your life. Let it do what you did not even dare to think of doing. Only then will there be progress in this world and things will happen.
Ensuring that the next generation of human beings is at least one step ahead of you and me is a fundamental responsibility of humanity. It is extremely important that the next generation lives with a little more joy, a little less fear, a little less prejudice, a little less entanglement, a little less hatred, a little less misery. That must be our goal. Your contribution to the next generation should be that you don’t leave a brat in the world. You should leave a human being who is at least a little bit better than you.
#2 Know What Your Child Needs
Some parents in their aspiration or ambition to make their children super-strong, have unnecessarily put their children through too much hardship. They want their children to become what they themselves could not become. In trying to fulfil their ambitions through their children, some parents have been extremely cruel to their children. Other parents, believing that they are very loving to their children have over-pampered them and made them powerless and useless in the world.
Once, there was a yogi who belonged to a certain tradition called Kashmir Shaivism. This is one of the seven forms of yoga. It is a very powerful form, but it has mostly remained in the Kashmir area, so it acquired that name. One day, this yogi saw a cocoon which was slightly cracked, and the butterfly inside was really struggling to come out – the cocoon shell was too hard. Usually, the butterfly struggles constantly for almost forty-eight hours to come out of the cocoon. If it does not come out, it will die. The yogi saw this and out of his compassion he used his nail and opened the cocoon so that the butterfly could come free. But when it came out, it could not fly. It is that struggle to break out of the cocoon which empowers the butterfly to use its wings and fly. What is the use of a butterfly that cannot fly? A lot of people, in what they think is love for their children, have made their children like this. The children don’t fly in their life.
There is no standard rule for all children. Each child is different. It is a certain discretion. No perfect line can be drawn as to how much to do and not do. Different children may need different levels of attention, love and toughness. If you were to come and ask me while I am standing in the coconut garden, “How much should I water each plant?” I would say “A minimum of fifty litres.” But if you go home and pour 50 litres into your rose plant, it will die. So you must see what kind of plant you have in your house.
#3 Learn From Your Child
Most adults assume that when a child is born, it is time to become a teacher. When a child comes into your home, it is not time to become a teacher. It’s time to learn, because if you look at yourself and your child, your child is happier, isn’t it? So it’s time for you to learn to live from them, not the other way around. The only thing you can teach your child – and to some extent, you must – is survival. But a child knows more about life experientially, by itself, when it comes to life itself. He is life. He knows it. Even with you, your life energies know how to be if you take away the influences that you have put on your mind. It is your mind that doesn’t know how to be. An adult is capable of suffering – imaginary suffering. A child is not there yet. So it is time to learn, it is not time to teach.
#4 Just Let Him Be
Parents must educate their children. If they truly love their children, the child will never need the parent. The process of love should always be a liberating process. It should never be a confining process. When the child is born, allow the child to look around, to spend time with nature, to spend time with themselves. Create an atmosphere of love and support. Don’t try to impose your morals, your ideas, your religion or whatever it is. Just let him grow, let his intelligence grow and help him to see life on his own terms, as a human being. Not to be identified with the family or with your wealth or whatever. Just helping him to see life as a human being is very important for his well-being and for the well-being of the world. The parent who encourages the child to learn to think for themselves and to use their own intelligence to see what is best for them is always the best insurance for the child to grow up well.
#5 Be a Joyful, Peaceful Being
If you want to raise your child well, the first thing you should do is be happy. But you have no idea how to be happy on your own. What will happen to your child if all it sees in your home every day is tension, anger, fear, anxiety and jealousy? That’s all he’s going to learn, isn’t it? You should transform yourself into a loving, joyful and peaceful being if you really want to educate your child well. What is the point of educating your child if you cannot transform yourself?
We must first see if we can do something about ourselves if we really want to raise our children well. There is a simple experiment that everyone who wants to be a parent needs to do. Sit down and see what is wrong with your life and what would be good for your life – not the world outside, but yourself. Something about yourself – your own behaviour, speech, actions and habits – if you can change that in three months, then you would be treating your child with wisdom.
Sadhguru is a yogi, a visionary and a New York Times bestselling author. Named one of India’s 50 most influential people, Sadhguru’s work has touched the lives of millions worldwide through his transformational programmes. His approach is not based on a belief system. It offers powerful and proven methods for self-transformation.
Come, and discover your natural state of freedom and joy.