This article is from the book “An Apostle of India’s Spiritual Culture”.
If the child is trained from the very beginning, then you will have very few problems later on. You will have very few occasions to chastise the child. All good Samskaras (impressions) should be implanted in the child since it learns to talk.
When the child is born, the parents should feel that the Lord has graciously entrusted to their care the greatest treasure on earth. No sacrifice is too much if that would enable them to mould the child properly.
When the child is somewhat mischievous, as all children are, the mother frightens it. “Oh, ghost will come”, she tells the child if it does not sleep quickly. This is not proper. Any type of fear element must be kept away from the child as virulent poison. The child must not know what fear is.
The child has an inquisitive nature. It wants to know. All knowledge is acquired by man only through this inquisitive nature. Its mischievousness is also a manifestation of this inquisitiveness only. It wants to find out; it wants to know. When the child is awake at night, it goes on asking various questions. You get annoyed! No: you should take immense delight in answering the questions intelligently so that the child will know, and satisfy its curiosity. Of course, you could always keep away subjects that are forbidden, in an intelligent manner.
The baby may not understand the sublimity of your words, but you should always sing the most sublime lullabies, entertain it with inspiring stories, and avoid all negative thought, word and action in its presence. You should always be positive and spiritual in your approach towards the baby.
The parents must never quarrel or speak ill of anybody before the child. The child must be away from vulgar manner or indecent utterings. You should be all encouragement, love and kindness. You should never show a wry face or get annoyed or disgusted with it.
This does not mean that you should dote over the child. When the child grows into a boy or a girl, when it has learnt to walk, to talk and to play, you should mix discipline with love. Even then do not frighten the boy; nor should you instill any kind of negative emotion into him. Lovingly and intelligently you should try to maintain discipline, and you should make the boy understand the glory of a disciplined life. If your earlier training has been good, you will find that even in his boyhood your son needs no chastising. He will readily obey you. And, if you take care to see that he chooses the right type of companions, you will have no problem at all.
The very first words you teach the child should be the Lord’s Name. The very first idea that you put into the boy’s mind should be spiritual and moral. When the child is able to sit up and talk, you should train it to sing divine hymns with closed eyes at the family altar. To the young boy you should teach the glory of a spiritual life, the purpose of morality, the principles of cleanliness, hygiene and health.
Even a problem-child can be moulded properly if your approach is the right one. The problem-child is essentially a creation of the parents. Obstinacy should be met by firmness spiced with love; ignorance should be met by knowledge coated with compassion; idiocy should be countered with intelligence coupled with kindness. Let the child’s heart know that you are sincere, eager and earnest in your attempt to mould him into an ideal citizen, a glorious manhood dedicated to the good of the world. You will succeed.
It is for the parents to adapt with the child; not for the child to adapt with the parents. In most cases, disharmony between youth and the parents is a direct result of torturing and shocking the mind of the child or the adolescent by arbitrary behaviour of the parents. In many cases the child receives no real love from the parents, except mere attachment grown out of constant association. The parents think that they love the child who is the apple of their eyes, but they really do not. There is a complete disregard to understand the mind of the youngsters, lack of sympathy as sought for by them. In the name of the child’s welfare the parents often permanently break up its tender heart. By chastising a child before outsiders the problem is by far aggravated than remedied. An unhappy companionship of the parents is often a serious menace for the future home of the adolescent. Many things which the child hears in its early age are implanted in the young mind, but when the years bring maturity there is a sever shock, which shatters the reverence for the parents. Therefore, the parents should never utter any vulgar or obscene word before the child.
The parents must be extraordinarily careful in dealing with boys or girls of eleven to fifteen years old.
Kindly do not forget that only if you are ethical, moral and spiritual, your children will also become so. If you neglect the fundamental virtues of life, your children will imitate you and become the worst materialists. Through proper effort you can surely train your children into ideal citizens, leaders, reformers, Yogis and Jnanis.
May the blessings of the Lord be upon you all!