What is the duty of a parent? A long time ago the great saint Rsabha said:
pitā na sa syāj jananī na sā syāt
daivaṁ na tat syān na patiś ca sa syān
na mocayed yaḥ samupeta-mṛtyum
In English it means: A Parent’s duty to their children is to open the door of liberation, to
explain the purpose of life to them.
In today’s world children are becoming more and more bound — not liberated. Bound to
the internet, social media, mobile phones, trends, and external appearances. These
things are binding children to becoming consumers, celebrity fans and bricks in a social
wall. They have become used to a sense of entitlement instead of responsibility and their
life is spent mostly indoors. Indulgent parents let children rule their lives like kings
and it’s not the school’s fault, nor were they born like that.
Occupational therapists by the droves are saying “The parents are to be held
responsible.” For what? For not being emotionally accessible to children. Parents are also
constantly being digitally distracted and they’re not clearly defining limits of conduct.
We’re not teaching children to be responsible and we’re not making sure they get enough
sleep and balanced diet. So as a result, among other handicaps, children are in a
devastating emotional state
In the last 15 years, 1 in 5 children have be found to have mental health problems as well
as a 43% increase in ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Children are
hyperactive and unable control their impulses or pay attention. There’s a 37% increase in
teen depression and a 200% increase in suicide amongst 10-14 year olds. Isn’t that
evidence that something is wrong?!
What do we do?
We must teach children to accept what they NEED; not what they WANT. Don’t be afraid
to say no by setting limits to their conduct, speech and lifestyle. Involve them in daily
chores—washing dishes, hanging clothes, setting the table etc. But above all remember, YOU are their PARENT and NOT their FRIEND. That’s right, not a friend — although your relationship may have an element of friendship.
That’s where we go back to the advice of Saint Rsabha. Aside from these material duties,
parents also have a constitutional and spiritual duty to open the door to liberation and
show their children the purpose of life. Of self-realization.
So consider this:
Do your children ever ask you about the purpose of life? About who they are? If not,
maybe it’s to do with the lack of parental guidance they are getting on the spiritual
platform. Even if they are well balanced emotionally and mentally, they need to have a
better future, a better outlook on life than a daily struggle for existence, to eventually die.
All that schooling and work just to die? What’s the point?
Parents, ask yourselves: Are you showing them the path to truthfulness, integrity, and
most importantly: self knowledge?
Remember children are only 20% of our population but they’re 100% of our future
– HH Sivarama Swami