Positive Parenting in Times of Change

Sri Sri Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari

What impacts us, impacts our children

What impacts us has a profound impact on our children. The recent economic jolts we have all been experiencing challenge us at every level, including our parenting. When almost everyone in the world is suddenly confronting scarcity, even parents with a deep spiritual anchor can find themselves shaken and on edge.

Our fears and anxieties are absorbed by our children. Our stress can take root in them as embedded fear, just as our ability to handle difficulties as they arise, can sow seeds of vibrant health in them

All conscientious parents want to help their child feel safe, secure, loved and firmly rooted in his or her inner resources. The issue is how to stay positive yourself. You are your child’s most important teacher. It is what you live and breathe, and how you act, that your child learns from you, not what you say

So my humble submission to all parents would be to pray that your children see you as a source of inspiration, someone worth following, with traits that can blossom into enduring security in their adulthood.

But how do you continue to be a positive, loving, spiritually grounded parent if you are feeling insecure yourself? How do you find the resources to be positive and conscious if you are overwhelmed, facing increasingly difficult physical, financial, or psychological predicaments?

Your spiritual and yoga practices are integral. They are critical to maintaining your balance, especially so in hard times. They focus and calm your mind, filling you with positive energy and helping you to stay grounded and confident in life. They reinforce your sense of inner security, regardless of transient, external circumstances. So intensifying your practice in any time of insecurity is a supremely practical way to support yourself and your children.

Tap into the universal teacher

Beyond your little, ego-mind self, there is the universal self, the self who is without limit and who is eternally available to counsel you whenever you are open. This is the universal source of all resources, the universal teacher. The more you open yourself up to it, the more you find its wisdom naturally flowing through your inner and outer life.

Prioritize and focus

So, put first things first. Focus on developing consistency in your practice to strengthen your access to your Infinite Source. Bring your sincere and open heart to your practice, so that the channel of light and guidance can work optimally in your life. Trust deeply in your search for the Divine. Your practice does not need a lot of complicated ritual. It needs your sincerity and consistency.

Some questions to ponder

In times of change, spend some time contemplating the deepest purpose of life, and what you are doing. What are you thinking? How are you motivating yourself? What are your highest intentions for your life?

Explore how you are managing negativity when it arises. How are you handling stress? Are you identifying with the stress? Are you surrendering to negativity? Are you taking extra care to re-create and regenerate yourself through relaxation and prayer?

The power of relaxation and consistent practice

To teach your children to be healthy, you need the power of your own relaxed state of body and mind. If you are not relaxed, the universal intelligence, the ultimate teacher, cannot flow through you. The cosmic mind flows through the conduit of your being when you are clear and relaxed.

Through relaxation, intuitive wisdom opens automatically. Spend time each day consciously relaxing, opening your heart in humble surrender to the Divine source of all wisdom. Add micro relaxation breaks, a deep breath here and there, to relax and recall that you are living in the Divine field. Breathe in the guidance always being offered to you.

Make sure you find a little time every day to practice meditation. Practice with sincerity and tremendous longing and yearning for Divine grace. Regular practice of meditation, relaxation techniques, yoga and deep breathing, detoxifies your body and releases negativity and stress. Without daily practice, negativity unavoidably accumulates. Stress gains an upper hand.

All too often, it is our children who become the scapegoats for the accumulated negativity and stress in any family. So take the time to cleanse yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Do it for your children as well as for yourself.

Practicing with sincerity and love, you will be less controlled by stress and insecurity. You will be more naturally available to your children. They will experience you as a loving, patient parent. They will see that you are positive in the face of difficulties; that you are able to manage your life with grace and ease. What greater gift could you give your children? It makes a deep seed-like impression in their minds and hearts, one that germinates and flowers as they grow into adulthood.

Real spirituality is practical

Real spirituality is practical spirituality. Train your mind to seek its true Divine home in all circumstances. Take refuge in the eternal, in the sustaining, encompassing, enduring realities. Life will have storms and obstacles, but they all have one purpose: to awaken you, to point you back towards what is real and enduring. Penetrate the veil of what is unreal and return to the real, to what is higher, and what leads you to peace.

Be a patient and loving parent to your own mind as well as to your children. Your mind will veer off course. It will fall into negativity because it has been conditioned to do just that. Return to your anchor, to your orienting center, to the truth of your oneness with divine.

You have nothing to fear. This too will pass. You will get through this and you will be richer for the experience. You have every reason to be positive, happy and joyful. Accept life and its challenges and move forward, knowing all is well.

Understand your children

Be gentle, understanding and conscious as you guide your children. Even children, who have been showered with everything and who suddenly have to do without, can rise to the occasion. They will take their cues from you in their adaptability. Be resourceful. Find creative ways to have fun, ways to be happy and peaceful, that don’t involve spending much money.

Children, however, are still greatly influenced by their peers. What you are trying to teach your children may not be what they are being exposed to in the world. When a child is suddenly told “no” after always being told “yes,” it is a difficult adjustment. Some might be tempted to lie or steal to maintain their status with their peers.

If problems develop, it is essential that you keep the doors of communication open with your children. That allows you to be there for them when temptation arises.

Meet children where they are

Meet your child where he or she is. Express your appreciation and understanding of their difficulties before leading them. Whenever I meet a child, I appreciate that child where he or she is. I do not plunge headlong into what they are doing or not doing, even when I know there is a problem. First, I just have fun being with them. Once I know I have a seat in their heart, I say, “My dear boy, this is what I am thinking. What do you think about it?” They have my permission to take it or not take it. I give them an “out.” “Don’t take it because Baba is saying it. Baba is not God. I am only a person who is just sharing his feelings with you. Maybe it will be useful to you, maybe not. Just take a look at it.”

The child responds in a positive way because he had no one pushing or forcing him. Children try to see the sense in it because I have opened their hearts first. It is simpler to approach the heart of a child by leading rather than forcing.

Listen first

Don’t hurry, don’t rush, don’t push, and don’t preach to your children. My advice is this: Instead of trying to tell your child what is right, try to understand what he or she thinks is right. Listen. Understand the child’s frame of reference. It is from there that you lead the child towards higher understanding.

This is where parents, even with the best of intentions, often go wrong. If you jump to conclusions without really listening to your child, you create a strain in the relationship. The child develops fear and feels the need to lie.

Instead, listen to the child. Understand the child and his or her predicament and thinking. Give your positive energy and love, like the morning dew: silent and unseen. Then gently lead the child.

From time to time, share a beautiful teaching, your personal experiences of day-to-day life, how you cope with stress, what you have learned from life, and how good things have happened when you took a higher road. Share your own life’s experiences, instead of telling your children what they need to do

Let the child gradually open up to you, talk to you and confide in you. Find the right time to move into his or her heart. Take little, little steps when speaking of the spirit. Never try to enforce your religious beliefs, dogmas, practices and spirituality on any child. He or she will tune you out.

You have to be silent, very subtle. The child will respond with love to gentle, subtle guidance. Then the child is free to follow your lead without rebelling against it.

And let go. Though you feel you have a natural instinct for what is good for your child, what you feel is not always correct. Each child comes into this world with a blueprint of his or her own life. The child has to go through life, making mistakes in order to learn, in the same way that you did.

Suffering is not always negative

You have learned some hard lessons in your life. Naturally, you don’t want to see your children suffer in the same way. But suffering is not always negative. Suffering and personal sacrifice all have deep lessons for any soul. They play a role in our movement forward in life and in the life of the spirit, even for a child. Giving your children a framework to begin appreciating that early in life is a great gift, one that will ultimately help them triumph through life’s inevitable adversities.

You are here to hold your child’s hand through all of life, including its tumultuous times. Your child will experience changes, lessons and suffering in the course of his or her life. You cannot prevent it. You can prepare your child for life by being a model, by being patient. Take care of yourself, tend to the life of your spirit, and appreciate the positive more than you react to the negative. Working from the plane of your own uplifted spirit, you and your children will thrive.

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