In a long conversation with a few close devotees, Maharaj Ji turned to the issue of child development. He said,
When does a person feel encouraged? When you praise him, keep supporting him, even the weakest person will become brave, because he starts developing a feeling that he is very much capable of doing. But when you keep interfering, intervening—telling a person how to sit, how to eat—understand that even the strongest person will become the weakest. He will feel that there is some weakness inside himself.
It makes a great difference how you develop your child, your environment. These things have an effect on a person’s life. You will see that some children feel dissipated at a very young age. Perhaps their karma is weak; no doubt they have some weaknesses inside. But why should you pester them? Instead of helping them, you are after them creating more trouble.
A person can pass through any difficult period when he gets love and when somebody pushes him through with constant encouragements. And one day he will start developing.
What is happening today? Why is there rebellion? Because parents have no time, teachers are wrong, and professors are worse. So from where will a child get education? He will receive his first teachings from his mother and father. Then he will go to school for further education from his teachers. What will happen when the parents are fighting, and the teachers are also fighting? What will this poor creature do? Thus you will find that in the present times, nervousness among children is at an all-time high. You find fear in the face of very young children. Why? That parental environment is frightening, quarrelsome.
Bhagat Nam Dev has written that the mother is such a teacher that if she desires, she can make the child a great warrior. If she desires, she can make the child antagonistic. If she desires, she can make him a devil. If she desires, she can make him a great devotee. He says that nobody else can give a child what the mother naturally passes to the child.
The mother has a great role for the child, because she is staying with the child. If she teaches him about good things and even scolds him with affection, the mother is teaching the child. A person does not forget his old special diet, or his special scoldings and beatings by his parents. He does not forget how furious my mommy used to be, how angry my father used to be. It makes a lot of difference, because everyone has to pass through childhood before becoming an adult.
It is not a matter of pride if you give a special diet, good clothes, or good education, because if the child is intelligent he will definitely seek a good education. The sacrifice parents can make is not to fight in front of the child, not to pressure him with anger, but rather to be happy in front of the children. That is the biggest contribution you can make to the child’s development.
Never pass in front of the child in a belligerent mood, for it will have a big effect on the child. The child may be only six months old, and playing outside at that time, but he understands your nature. If you stand with an angry face in front of a child, his face will change immediately because he recognizes your mood. Even if he is only six months old, he catches your consciousness. When the father is prone to anger, when the mother is prone to anger, that child will never become a good child. His consciousness will be caged.
Now why do all the children speak with disrespect in front of their parents? The only factor is that the parents’ nature is not good. The child always sees that his mother is quarrelsome, so he feels, “What difference does it make if I am angry with her? If my father is quarrelsome, what difference does it make if I fight with him? This anger has already developed in our family—this is nothing new.” If there is no fighting in the family, the child will definitely control his anger because he is aware that it would be a new thing in the house and nobody would tolerate it.
You might forget a thing you have said, but your children and your friends remember it, and when you make a cross statement, they will immediately point out that in the past you made a contrary statement. Even if you justify your statement, that earlier you were emotional and now the situation is different, the fact is that you had made a statement before and a child or friend will contradict you there.
Always keep in mind that God is beneficent, compassionate, and loving. Maharaj ji has described God as “sweet-tongued.” He also says, “The Perfect Guru never speaks harshly or rudely.” When you are given responsibility, act with responsibility; don’t be irresponsible. You are now the eldest in the family, and an elder has virtues. It is not a matter of age. You must develop the good qualities of an elder.