Parenting and the Role of Parents

Parenting is an art. However one has to learn how to become better parents. This article provides important guidelines about how to tackle common problems of your children and how to develop a better rapport between you and your children. Find the key of becoming ideal parents and apply it to unlock the inherent potentialities in your children so that with your guidance they can become ideal citizens and lead the Nation to peace and prosperity.


1. How can parents encourage their children to study ?

Most children do not like to study. While studying one has to read every word carefully, concentrate on the subject and get difficulties and doubts solved from the teacher. We have to struggle and make special efforts to understand the subject.

It is but natural that there is no need to tell children to play or see movies, but it is important to be after them and make them habituated to study.

Abstract thinking is not developed in children under 10 to 12 years of age. They cannot follow what an ‘X’ in algebra means. While teaching them, 2+2=4, it is important to use objects like marbles, pencils, blocks etc.

Younger the child, more important it is to make the subject interesting by telling related stories and giving suitable examples.

If the child has failed, do not insist to promote him to the higher class, as it will be difficult for him to cope-up with the subject later if his base is not sound. If the child has failed, do not scold him. Sympathise with him. Analyse the reasons for his failure and try to correct them.

        Check the environment in your house. A happy, carefree and studious atmosphere is essential for study. In ancient days the students used to go to the Ashram i.e. residential university situated, away from the city and villages. Now the changed system of education has increased the responsibility of parents. Hence you have to see that the studious atmosphere of such university is maintained in your home. You should not switch the television or radio on if the child is studying.

        Sometimes keeping the photograph of God or the Saint whom he likes on his study table promotes self-confidence. Meditation also helps to increase concentration.

2. What is the role of parents as teachers ?

        Parents are the first and most important teachers in everyone’s life. Parents teach their babies, how to love and appreciate each other. The baby learns talking by listening to parents. The parents indirectly teach their children how to react to various circumstances in life. They teach children good manners and how and when to trust and depend on people in various circumstances. Religious sentiments, temple visits and belief in God are first inculcated by parents.

        However, parents who display emotional outbursts in response to minor frustrations become a model for similar behaviour in children as they imitate very easily good as well as bad points of the parents. Most of us learn parenting and how to become parents from our experience with our own parents.

3. How should parents impart sex education to their children ?

        Imparting knowledge about sex constitutes sex education. As the child grows, he becomes curious to learn about his body and is anxious to know about sexual differentiation and all matters related to sex.

        The age of questioning starts around 3 to 5 years and this continues until the age of 10 years. As the child grows, his curiosity increases and he is keen to know “How is the baby born” ? and so on. Parents should not show any obvious embarrassment whenever their children ask questions like this. They should answer these questions in a truthful, honest and frank way in simple language depending on the age and power of understanding of their children.

        However, one may not dig over unnecessary details when not asked. If instead of frank welcome by parents, the child observes expression of embarrassment from parents, he too gets embarrassed and he subsequently avoids this topic. But this doesn’t close the chapter. He seeks clarification from peers, books and other sources which may not be desirable ones and may not give correct information. Such children may develop a wrong or unhealthy attitude towards sex.

        It is better if parents, teachers or the family physician educate the child on sex matters. A class-room where questions are freely asked and answered convincingly and to the point is a good place. Many doubts and fears can be sorted out and cleared.

4. What are the problems of children of working parents ?

        The major problem is of emotional deprivation. The child who has his affectionate mother close by to attend to his every need is better off than the child who lacks mother’s attention. Such a child becomes dissatisfied and emotionally insecure. The latter gets attached to the mother substitute, usually a female or a male servant or a baby sitter. The baby easily picks up bad manners, foul language, filthy habits and undesirable behaviour from the mother substitute. Often the child poses a problem emotionally when such mother substitute is replaced by another servant or even by the mother herself.

        There is no substitute to the child’s parents, when one considers the child’s emotional stability, discipline, educational guidance and social training.

        The working parents may themselves contribute to improper parenting and spoiling the child. For example, they may try to make up for their absence at home by deliberately overlooking the child’s misconduct which otherwise would have been corrected on the spot.

5. What is the role of grand-parents in bringing up grand-children ?

        Grandparents play a major role in parenting and bringing up children in a joint family. One cannot think of more loving and more experienced persons who will devote all their time and love for the welfare of the children. The child often feels more secure with and gets more attached to grandparents rather than their busy parents. A faithful servant or babysitter will look after the physical needs of the child, while grandparents often become the sculptors of the child’s personality.

        Grandparents, like parents, can spoil the child by over-protection and favouritism. Grandparents often have their own problems and personalities and it is wrong to expect too much from such grand-parents.

6. What is the impact of joint family on a child ?

        The child brought up in a joint family where every member loves and respects one another has many advantages. Such a child is emotionally more secure. In a modern family where both the parents go out for work and children are left with a servant or baby sitter, children are emotionally starved, as hardly any one talks to them or appreciates them. In a joint family, if parents or uncles and aunts get angry with the child, he can still get some support from grand-parents. Even in case of a calamity such as father’s or mother’s death, children as well as the whole family get easily adjusted in a joint family. Such a calamity in a small family will amount to the breakdown of the entire family.

        Children in a joint family get the opportunity of observing how their uncles, aunts and parents love and appreciate one another and respect their parents. Children can learn a lot from the other members of the family. Children also learn to share their toys and sweets with their cousins from the beginning. When they grow up, not only the real brothers and sisters but also their cousins help to develop each other’s personalities as friends, companions and siblings.

        On the other hand, a joint family where there is no love and respect for one another amongst its members and where individuals have bad habits like drinking can adversely affect the personality of the child. In such a case, it is better to have separate individual families.

7. What is the impact of family on the development of child’s personality ?

        Personality characteristics have been a common focal point in psychological research studies through the years, and there has always been discussion as to how family influences play a role in personality development. The environment that children grow up in certainly has some impact on what type of personality characteristics they develop. Minds of children are like wet cement and what we inculcate mainly in the atmosphere of family are permanent inscriptions in their minds throughout their lives, either good or bad. Since ancient times, the family has been the most important child care in India. A satisfactory rearing of the child was ensured by an effective social organization known as family and in Indian culture and tradition through the institution of joint family and close knit community with cooperative responsibility for family and child care/protection. The following quotations bring out the effect of home and family on the child’s personality :

  • If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.

  • If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.

  • If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.

  • If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.

  • If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.

  • If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident.

  • If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.

  • If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.

  • If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.

  • If a child lives with acceptance and friendship he learns to find love in the world.

8. What is the importance of love in the development of a child ?

        The mind thrives on love just as the body thrives on food. One can buy all the physical requirements in the market but can’t buy love with any amount of money. One often finds children from a poor family with meager income thriving and progressing surprisingly well because of abundant love. On the other hand, children of rich but divorced parents have to struggle for love and tender care.

        Initially the baby thrives on parent’s love. Later the child needs love from brothers, sisters, relatives, friends, teachers, employer and the society in general.

9. Should parents praise their child ?

        Parents should praise but never flatter their children. Praise involves sincere evaluation, approval and admiration of good qualities of the child. Flattery means insincere, excessive and exaggerated praise. Praise stimulates learning and development of new skills. It is essential for building self-confidence, acquiring good qualities and development of personality.

        Parents should not praise much the natural or inherited qualities for example if their child is good looking or intelligent, they should consider themselves lucky, but should not praise the child for the same. However, they should praise the child’s accomplishments as well as efforts to acquire new knowledge, skills, good qualities and good manners.

10. Should the parents criticise or scold their child ?

        When a child has committed a mistake, rather than calling him stupid or silly, it is better to point out how he could have avoided the mistake and how he should have solved the problem. One should criticise the bad act, but not the personality or character traits of the child. Rather than calling the child shabby, it is better to point out to him how he has kept his room shabbily. Rather than scolding him for his failure in an examination, it is better to discuss with him the causes of his failure and how he could improve in the next test.

11. How would you tackle the situation when your child has beaten the neighbour’s child and comes home running ?

        If your child has beaten your neighbour’s child without any reason, you should make the child realise that he has done injustice to the neighbour’s child by asking him, “How would you feel if a stronger boy beats you without any reason ?” Parents should later tell the child to go and apologise to the neighbour’s child by saying “I am sorry”.

Reference : Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy text ‘Your child (1 to 12 years)’.

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