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    Raising Children with Conversations and Convictions

    Published on September 20, 2021

    By Dr. Shweta Singh

    When Luv and Kush saw Lord Ram’s Ashwamedha Horse, they read the note on his forehead. The note declared – This is the horse of the brave King Ram. Accept Ram’s patronage and the kind king shall protect you. If you hold this horse, be prepared to fight and be defeated by Ram’s army -. In UttarRamayan, the note and the story of Ram that they had heard made Luv want to take up the challenge. Luv caught the horse and Kush said, ” Well if you have caught it. Let us play it out.” And the two children of the great Goddess Sita, an avatar of Mother Lakshmi, born to Mother Earth who were not yet twelve, tied the horse to a tree. They went on to defeat every single person in their father – Lord Ram’s entire army and his brave brothers. No room for doubt about what they knew, no wavering from convictions, free-spirited but grounded in their identity and their allegiances.

    But that was Satyug. Today we struggle to raise children who can tell right from wrong. Our children can hardly be faulted for being born in this wee end of Kalyug. We offer them a world riddled with irrationality and extremism, and yet there is not one idea or thought that we are able to impart as a constant. As we compete with multiple influences and influencers for our children’s time, attention, and loyalty…we have no idea what our children stand for…

    Whatever ideas and values they are inundated with, if they have three strengths, they might not even notice. These three elements are –

    1.  The very first one is mental Strength – In a world that pushes agenda and propaganda with every breath, a strong mind will allow your child to keep space between self and ideas. It will keep them grounded. And when the going gets tough as it will every once in a while, they will know that Discipline. Awareness. Preparedness. The capacity to hold on and knowing when to let go will save them from dramatic ups and downs…this requires teaching children about failure as part of life, disappointment as an opportunity to plan, and observing and reflecting on one’ choices on a daily basis.

    2. The second one is commitment and practice of building physical strength –

    Food, sports, self-care and self-management should not be guessed, they should be taught with routine and patience. While actual strength will vary, building on it must be a guarantee. The runs in the park, the play outside the house, the nutrition, the ability to work with time…these are all taught ideals that require habit-forming routines.

    3. The final one is spiritual health – The reading of Ramayana, debates on moral dilemmas, studying the character of Rama & Sita. Reflection, meditation, and conversation will build and connect them to their own divine soul. Long walks in nature, taking care of plants, animals, older people will teach them about caring for others and seeing others who need them. This strength will give them a focus outside of themselves too, it will show them the big picture. It will keep things and issues in perspective and will build a sense of self beyond body and mind.

    We are limited in containing who and what shows up in our children’s life. But we have unlimited possibilities in building their strength and capacity through ways of understanding and responding to stimuli.

    4. Our own narrow vision is the only obstruction – With limitless conversation and convictions comes the comfort of knowing – knowing that you have done this before. That is what we can teach…as well in Kalyug as in Satyug. It’s just about making time and space in your own mind and in your child’s.

    Dr. Shweta Singh is an educator, coach and author of “Mumbai Rains and Chicago Blue – The Making of Indian Woman Hood’.