Posted in Life Gyan

Children

Poem on Children by Kahlil Gibran

I came across this poem by Kahlil Gibran on one of the social media posts and found it so very apt and timeless that I felt like sharing this with all via my Blog. When you read it, do so slowly and it will surely make you ponder and may be you will feel like reading it again and sharing it with your dear ones too. So reproducing the poem below.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Posted in Life Gyan

What Are We Teaching Our Kids?

A few weeks ago, I had attended a birthday party of my daughter’s friend. There they played a game, the age old ‘Passing the parcel’, however, what was different was the way it was played. The child who was caught with the parcel when the music stopped was asked to leave the circle, but with that parcel as the gift, and then a new parcel was introduced. The game continued till every child got a gift. I asked the mother what was wrong with the earlier version, the version we had all grown up with.
 
She said – “I do not like kids to be disappointed. See, here every child is happy as he or she gets to take a gift home.”
 
In another instance, I was in the park with my daughter. She was playing lock and key with her friends. Now, one of her friends fell down. Her mother, who was on the other side of the park ran to his son, all confused and upset. She scooped her son in her lap and started inquiring – “Are you hurt? Let me see! Do no cry! Shush, mama is here.”
 
The child, had a scraped knee, who was perfectly OK till then, started crying earnestly.
 
I was at a friend’s home for lunch. Her 5-year old daughter refused to eat what was cooked for lunch. My friends felt so guilty that her daughter would go hungry, that she cooked up her favourite pasta immediately. According to her, it was not the first time this had happened.
 
At the School Sports Day, there are no races, no competition. No first, second or runner ups. Because, everyone is equal, there should be no competition between the kids.
 
Kids today have a room full of toys and games. Some they ask, some they do not. But, they still get them. Everything in excess is the new mantra of life.
 
Our parents taught us self-reliance, while we hover around our children and want to protect them at all costs. We like to hold our babies closer to the protection of the nest. We go out of our way and rustle up something when they don’t eat what’s cooked at home for everyone else, because we don’t them to sleep hungry. Instead of letting them play outside, we organize activities for them. We do their homework and their assignments. We even resolve their conflicts for them.
 
It makes me wonder, what will happen to these kids when they grow up?
 
Will they get a gift every time they fail? Will they be able to handle disappointment? A child who has never been denied anything, how will he cope with rejections? There are a growing number of cases when kids run away from home or commit suicide because they are not able to deal with low marks in examinations or when they fail to secure an admission in an institution of their choice.
 
Will their parents keep them hidden in their bosom all their life? Our mothers never ran after us, a scraped knee was just that. She would ask us to wash it with some water and then forget about it. But, there was no drama that followed. Falling and hurting was a part of daily life for us. We cycled, climbed up trees and jumped from the stairs. Today, kids travel in elevators and escalators (because they might fall down the stairs and get themselves hurt). Earlier, kids walked and cycled. I hardly see kids walking nowadays, unless it’s for a kids’ marathon and they are required to pose for selfies with their cool mommies. I never see kids climbing up the monkey bars, do you?
 
Will they shy away from competition or be able to survive it? OK, so we can accompany our kids till the college gate and sit in the waiting area while they appear for a job interview. In one-child China, parents have been known to put up tents outside their college kids’ dorms. This is an invisible umbilical cord we are just not ready to cut. And, what happens after that? A child who is never used to losing – how will he survive in the big bad world?
 
We are raising our kids to be adult babies.
 
So what should we do?
 
Stop telling our children that they are special all the time. They are not, at least not always. So reserve the praises for the times when they actually deserve.
 
Stop going out of the way to create happiness in their life. The life is a mix of joys and sorrows, and it is for a reason. We have no right to interfere with the nature. So let’s stop pretending that everything is all right when it’s not. Let the kids have their fair share of disappointments at an early age. It’s better to fall at 10, than at 40.
 
Stop giving them things when they don’t require it. We had fewer toys, but did we ever complain? Were we unhappy because of that? No, right. So why are we teaching our kids to be materialistic? Why should they find happiness in toys and games, and not people? We give them iPads, iPhones…we are teaching them it’s all right to speak to the technology, rather than people. Today’s kids have more virtual friends than actual friends.
 
Stop hovering around them. Let them take action and be responsible for it. If they have done a wrong deed, they should take the punishment or the consequences for it. Do not protect them unnecessarily.
 
Let them fall. And, do not cushion their fall. Also, let them get up on their own. Only when they fall, will they get up. Let them learn things on their own.
 
Stop feeling guilty. For things we can’t provide them. We are the parents, not super-humans or Gods. Make kids understand our limitations.
 
It’s not the kids who are at fault, but us, the parents. Let’s sit with our parents and understand how they raised us – independent and fearless. We can take a leaf or two from their parenting book. It wouldn’t do us any harm, but might save our kids!
Posted in Life Gyan

Nurture The Child

  • If your child lies to you often, it is because you over-react too harshly to their inappropriate behaviour.
  • If your child is not taught to confide in you about their mistakes, you’ve lost them.
  • If your child had poor self-esteem, it is because you advice them more than you encourage them.
  • If your child does not stand up for themselves, it is because from a young age you have disciplined them regularly in public.
  • If your child takes things that do not belong to them, it is because when you buy them things, you don’t let them chose what they want.
  • If your child is cowardly, it is because you help them too quickly.
  • If your child does not respect other people’s feelings, it is because instead of speaking to your child, you order and command them.
  • If your child is too quick to anger, it is because you give too much attention to misbehaviour and you give little attention to good behaviour.
  • If your child is excessively jealous, it is because you only congratulate them when they successfully complete something and not when they improve at something even if they don’t successfully complete it.
  • If your child intentionally disturbs you, it is because you are not physically affectionate enough.
  • If your child is openly defied, it is because you openly threaten to do something but don’t follow through.
  • If your child is secretive, it is because they don’t trust that you won’t blow things out of proportion.
  • If your child talks back to you, it is because they watch you do it to others and think its normal behaviour.
  • If your child doesn’t listen to you but listens to others, it is because you are too quick to make decisions.
  • If your child rebels it is because they know you care more about what others think than what is right or wrong.

Change starts at home.  Try a few if not all and see the sea change in the relations. Can you?

Posted in Life Gyan

Life’s Little Instructions

“Life’s Little Instructions”  –  This is the title of one of my favourite books. This book was originally written by H. Jackson Brown. The Complete Life’s Little Instruction Book contains the 1,560 entries found in all three volumes of the New York Times Bestselling Life’s Little Instruction Book series.

This book like other books does not contain a story or a lot of text. It is a collection of one or two line sentences which originally were written as a gift from a father to a son, however its simplicity and practical advice is so appealing that it has been enjoyed by men and women of all ages. Even the lines on the cover page after the title reads…

Suggestions, Observations and Reminders on
How to Live a Happy and Rewarding Life.

My Story

I love reading and I first read this book during my college days. I was so inspired by its simplicity and relevance that I decided to gift one copy of this book to each of my friends as a parting gift towards the end of college. Though you may agree that it was a good idea but I was in college and had limited resources. I did not have enough money to buy a copy each for my friends.

To say that inspite of this shortcoming I was still determined would be an understatement. I wanted to share this treasure with my near and dear ones so badly that I decided to reproduce the whole text…manually.

I realised that it was not possible to write so many copies with hand so the other option would be to get it done on a computer. I am taking about the year 1998 in India and not many people would own a computer like today. I did not have one too.

But to my good fortune, one of my close friends Suyog Hebbar, who was pursuing Computer Science Engineering, had a desktop. And the icing on the cake was that he shared the apartment with me. So I discussed this idea with him and used his computer to key in the contents patiently. Slowly over a period of few days I was able to complete the typing, designed the cover page and saved it to a floppy disk for printing.

In those days mostly everyone used the dot-matrix printers. However I wanted a better print quality. So I decided to get one printed from the printing shop. I knew that Inkjet printing was very costly those days and as students we had limited funds for our monthly expenses. So all I could afford was one copy. Using this as the master copy I got multiple other copies xeroxed (photostat) and got them spiral bound and then gifted a copy to many of my friends with the hope that the gift would be valued not for its cost or beauty but for the content and underlying effort and feelings.

One such copy I also gave to my sister and she recently shared the cover page of the same with me which I am reproducing below.

After reading all this with patience you might be wondering what really is inside the covers of the book. So let me share a few of my favourite “Life Little Instructions” below. As you read these, pause for a moment before you move on to the next one.

Compliment three people every day.

Watch a sunrise at least once a year.

Remember other people’s birthdays.

Have a firm handshake.

Life is short.
Eat more pancakes and fewer rice cakes.

Sing in the shower.

Use the good silver.

Buy great books, even if you never read them.

Say “thank you” a lot.

Say “please” a lot.

Plant flowers every spring.

Be the first to say “hello.

Live beneath your means.

Drive inexpensive cars,
but own the best house you can afford.

Be forgiving of  yourself and others.

Learn the rules.
Then Break Some.

Learn three clean jokes.

Wear polished shoes.

Ask for a raise when you feel you’ve earned it.

If in a fight,
hit first and hit hard.

Return all the things you borrow.

Teach some kind of class.

Be a student in some kind of class.

Plant a tree on your birthday.

Make new friends
but cherish the old ones.

Keep secrets.

Take lots of snapshots. 

Never give up on anyone.
Miracles happen everyday.

Don’t waste time learning the “tricks of the trade.”
Instead, learn the trade.

Surprise loved ones with little unexpected gifts.

Stop blaming others.
Take responsibility for every area of your life.

Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you.

Use your wit to amuse, not abuse.

Be brave. Even if  you’re not, pretend to be.
No one can tell the difference.

Demand excellence and be willing to pay for it.

Don’t take good health for granted.

Someone will always be looking at you as an example of how to behave. Don’t disappoint.

Write “thank you” notes promptly.

If you haven’t read this book already, I strongly recommend you to try it. If you have read it long ago, you may gain some new insights by reviewing it again. Happy reading !

Posted in Life Gyan

My Children, My Universe

mother_and_child
Sharing this immensely practical advice given by Mrs. Chithra Vishwanathan, who’s a famous Cooking expert. And I can vouch, I have seen the same story unfold among relatives and families of friends and neighbours – especially if the lady is a homemaker. The vacuum in the mother’s life after the kids leave home can push her into depression. Maybe you can relate to the below story and learn from it.

When my daughter, the elder one of my two children got married & left the house, I felt as if I could not let her leave me. Having a daughter & a son, I know what both mean, but differently .
Once my daughter reached her teens I had started feeling as if my daughter was a “physical extension” of me ! So when she was leaving home to set up her own nest, it was as though I was losing a limb .
The next time she came for a short stay with us, I was astonished how her priorities had changed. (of course we must have given the same shocks to our own parents ! ). When she said Amma, she meant her MIL & not me! I imagined that she was always in a hurry to go back to her house & not stay with me for a few more days. That was the first time, it dawned on me that I have to start practising detachment in attachment.
Two years after my daughter’s marriage, my son left for higher studies to U S. Having experienced a child’s separation once, I was better equipped emotionally. I plunged head long into various classes held in the city starting from vedanta to healing to ikebana – I just wanted to be away from home since my husband was a 7-7 worker & a workaholic. My son used to write how he was missing my home cooked food, how he was waiting to come back to live in Chennai with us etc.
After a few years, he did come back & we got him married. He started living separately with his wife & we were also happy that they wanted to be independent from the beginning.
But now, it was all changed ! When in the U S, he missed my cooking, now if I called him to come over with his wife for a meal, it was always some excuse like “Oh, Amma, we have other plans for the day, please don’t mistake us if we don’t drop in today” ! I could see that his priorities had also changed completely.
We talk in theory so many things & give advice to others etc but when it comes to your own children, acceptance comes very late & next step is just leaving them undisturbed in every way, mainly without advice from our end.

It was at that time, I made the following lines as my “new profile”:

In all my relationships, rather interactions, I give my best. I work hard to mature & cherish them. My attachment with them is complete. However, I remain detached in the sense that I do not expect them to reciprocate my affection. Most importantly, I make a conscious effort, not to interfere or pass judgements on the lives they choose to lead. My concern for my near & dear ones will not fade with my detachment. If you let go of the ones you love, they will never go away – this is the beauty of attachment with detachment !

I have learnt to love & let go.This dictum has developed tolerance in me. When I let the people live the way they want to, I learn to accept them for what they are. Most importantly, I learn to tolerate the world around me & this tolerance brings in me a sense of peace & contentment. I ask God to guide me in being loving, compassionate, tolerant & understanding when I interact with others. If a person wants to share a thought or concern with me I want that person to feel comfortable to do so. I want to remain peaceful & approachable to others. Before I speak , I pray to God to give me the right words so that I express myself clearly & with consideration to others.

Since both my children live in Chennai, I follow this very strictly, you know why ! Now I have realised that we start growing mentally much more only after the children leave the house & we have to tackle the emotional vacuum, that arises, along with age-related problems like menopause which set in simultaneously. I find this is the most testing period for a woman, as well & emerging successfully is a slow process.

I specially dedicate this post to my friends, who are totally dependent on their children’s lives, to nurture their own selves emotionally. Please develop your own interests, hobbies etc, however mundane they may seem to be.