Can Spirituality Help With Effective Parenting?

Though considered an effective solution to address many problems in life, does spirituality really help with effective parenting?

There is no magic formula for effective parenting – no single mantra that defines how a child will thrive. After all, every child is different, as is every parent and their parenting style. One of the lesser-known approaches to effective parenting that is quite popular in India, is based on the tenets of ancient Indian wisdom and spirituality. Though considered an effective solution to address many problems in life, does spirituality really help with effective parenting? Sri Preethaji, co-founder of Ekam, certainly believes so.

She says, “The ancient Vedic sages say that until a child is five years old, shower as much love as you can on the child. Don’t allow your children to be emotionally hurt or feel abandoned until they are five, because these experiences can leave lasting impressions on the child. From age six to sixteen, one should consciously focus on nurturing a state of mind that instils emotions of gratitude, compassion, kindness, joyfulness, and courage in children. The clear descriptions of these ages in spiritual texts, show the connection between spirituality and effective parenting practices.”

Sri Preethaji also highlights that a child is like a garden at this stage, that needs nurturing. Parents shouldn’t expect them to feel naturally grateful or judge them for being arrogant. She highlights that goodness cannot be cultivated - it only comes through a greater awareness of themselves and the world, and by harbouring compassion and respect for themselves and all living beings.

With this in mind, Sri Preethaji believes that spiritual training should begin from the tender age of five – which is also when the ancient ceremony of Brahmopadesha marking the beginning of learning for the child, is performed. In this ceremony, the father has his child sit in his lap and encourages the child to focus on an intention, so that divine effulgence permeates the child’s consciousness.

“From the age of sixteen onwards, the Vedas direct us to treat our child like a friend. Friendship is an extraordinary relationship that a parent and child can nurture. In case you’re wondering how parents can be friends with children, you must remember that the essence of friendship is not to judge your children but to respect them as they are. Children can be rude at this age, and they may even judge you. You must in turn dissolve your disappointments and shock and get back to them with love,” she says.

She further highlights that this phase can be confusing for most parents, as well as for children because a significant evolutionary transition is at work in their bodies and brains. It is a period of formal separation from the parent, and their fears may escalate, as they work to disentangle their identities and the dependence on their parents, relying instead on their friends and peers. It is important for parents to display compassion at this time.

“The enormity of life experiences hit them at this stage. They confront failure, rejection, feelings of insufficiency, questions about purpose and future career. It is a hard time for them too. Only as a parent can you learn the art of dissolving your anger and disappointment to connect to your child. Connecting and feeling what they are feeling and letting them know that you will love them regardless of how they fare in life, is the greatest gift you can give your children. Such children will grow up to be happy human beings. They will grow into leaders who contribute to the betterment of the world around them, each in their way. The spiritual art of parenting is a journey. There is no need to feel guilty about how you have raised your child so far. Every child can be healed and create his / her own destiny if both the parent and child go through a journey of inner transformation,” signs off Sri Preethaji. Her sage advice shows that spirituality can indeed be an effective guide to parenting in the modern age.

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