QUESTION: Parenting is not just about providing for the material needs of the children. In your view how important is it for parents to inculcate spiritual and moral values in their children?
What role do you think parents should play in enabling their children to understand what you regard as the true purpose of life? How do you think they can groom their children amid the pervasive materialism to recognize, at an early age, what the true purpose of life is?
– ‘Sahana’, Bangalore
A: Parenting is the most complex life skill. But most of us just take it for granted. We experiment on the first child and suppose that, that is the way to handle the rest of our children. Or, we neglect the remaining siblings altogether.
Proper parenting starts before the child is born, not after. Both parents must decide together how they want their child to be. Today, in many families, both parents are working to provide their child material comforts and the best education so that they can survive and compete in this materialistic world. On this front, many parents are doing their best by sacrificing their own comforts.
But something is missing here. These parents are having a tough time in upbringing the children as decent human beings. Today, character and morals have almost disappeared. Children are self-centered and care nothing for others. Single parenting and divorce are on the increase and have further caused damage psychologically and emotionally in upbringing children.
In my generation, our parents struggled to provide us our NEEDS, and today’s parents are sweating themselves to provide their children their WANTS. They are not able to fulfil their wants, however, because when one want is fulfilled, and another pops up, and there is no end to this. When parents are not able to give in to their demands, some children become aggressive and go to any extreme to harm themselves and others. They can even commit suicide. Today, children are ungrateful.
Today, many parents give their little children their mobile phone or iPad and put cartoons or some game on it if the child demands it as a condition to eat. Mothers have found a new tool for getting on with their duty of feeding their child in an easy way, with no shouting or coaxing. Many mothers have no patience and don’t take out time to even feed their child.
In a recent workshop in Hyderabad, the father of the child shared that his small 5-year-old child demanded the mobile phone to eat his breakfast. He refused to give, and the child refused to eat. He threatened, still the child was stubborn. Then finally the father said if he does not eat he will hit him with his belt. The child said hit and the father started hitting the child and the child started saying hit more and more and father got tired and gave up, but the child did not submit. what is the solution to up bring such a child-the parents are in a puzzle.
In our times we were not exposed to TV, mobile phones and other such innovations and hence we were more connected internally to our hearts than to our minds. Not connected to gadgets, we were connected to the family, spending time together, sharing, joking and eating together, going out on picnics every Sunday or in the evenings, to a park or visiting relatives.
How things have changed!
Today’s generation may have high IQ, which they think is needed to survive and exist in the competitive rat-race, but are disconnected from their heart and hence self-centered. The education system is designed to create robots, not human beings, to fit the capitalist demand to get jobs. We cannot expect the present education system in schools to spare the required time to focus on the human and the humane dimension.
The so-called religious schools have also failed in nurturing good human beings because their syllabus is designed to focus on external forms and rituals, seemingly sound on the external (hardware) but hollow as far as the inner being (software) is concerned. The internal spiritual or human part cannot be imparted through teaching and preaching but only by living and creating a culture where the child observes and imbibes the necessary virtues, which are not found in the school, nor in the homes. Neither at home nor in the school is there the necessary environment to groom virtuous human beings because neither parents nor teachers measure up to the mark in order to do so.
One of the basic spiritual principles is that God has created us as human beings and He wants us to live as human beings, seeing and treating and respecting everyone as fellow human beings. But we fail to live as human beings. Instead, we live like animals and beasts and treat others as objects, discriminating on every front. This will lead humanity to ruin and destruction.
Every child is born as a human being, being connected internally to the heart. But their parents, their environment, their schools etc. disconnect the child from the heart and connect it to the external mind, training the child to use logic and reason to fit into and survive in a polluted, opinionated and judgmental world.
The child is born as a human being, and to grow up as a human being the child needs an environment, a culture to experience that he is among fellow human beings. To nurture the child as a human being, parents and family members first must be and live as human beings themselves. They must create a culture in the home where they see and treat each other as human beings. The language that must be spoken at home is of equality.
People create their own problems. But they cannot see they are doing that. They live in self-deception, wrongly believing that all the suffering they undergo through in life is because of other people. They are stuck and blinded and resist anyone who tries to help them.
We should help one another distinguish between the mind and the heart, to come out of the slavery of the mind and connect to the heart, to live, experience and enjoy life as human beings.
Self-realization is the key to transformation. The Discover Yourself workshops we organise are a gift and an opportunity to move towards Self-realization, to come out into a world of possibilities, experiencing liberation and freedom. Alhamdulillah! Many souls have benefitted from them.
It is hard to explain and put in words, in short, the purpose and creation of human beings from Allah’s perspective, who is the Truth, the Reality. One of the basic Islamic fundamental principles is, He created us, as human beings and He wants us to live as human beings, see and treat everyone as human beings, but we fail to live as human beings instead live like animals and beasts and treat others as objects, discriminating in every front. This is Evil and Allah has warned that it is the path of Satan, not to follow his footsteps as it will lead humanity to destruction and ruin.
“So, set your face sincerely and truly towards this faith, and be steadfast on nature (Human Being) whereupon Allah has created mankind. There can be no alteration in the nature made by Allah. This is the right and true faith, but most people do not know.” (Al-Rum 30:30).
(Readers can send their queries on religion, spirituality and life to [email protected])