Sri Sri Address to parents
It is very difficult for me to talk about parenting. I have no experience.
But I can give you some ideas through observation. You have to put this into
your experience and see. If you are very orderly, children will make you
chaotic. Children are best to break your boundaries. I remember one of my
uncles used to be very strict and discipline with me and my sister very
much. When he had a son, his son started disciplining him, broke all his
barriers. So, your children teach you a lot that others may not be able to.
The first thing for us is to observe a kid, its tendencies, and the
direction the kid is taking. It is a two way journey. What do you want to
learn from them? And what do you want to teach them? Don’t try to put them
through your own vision. You have to share your vision with them and
persuade them if their vision is wrong. Every child has come to this planet
with certain tendencies, certain basics which cannot be changed. And he/she
acquires certain things which can be controlled. Are you with me? It is a
big exercise. If you are a very much disciplined person, child can create
chaos in your life, and they can show you your place, make you break your
barriers. We have to be very sensitive. This is one thing that we have to
keep in our mind. If you tell children not to lie, and ask them to reply a
phone call saying you are not at home, this is simply not going to work.
Having an argument in front of your children will make it worse. If you want
to have some argument between you and your spouse, you better give your
children some job, and then fight as much as you can. But by the time they
come back, you better patch up.
We encourage the tendency in children not to give things away, and holding
onto things. When that goes beyond a certain limit, we feel suffocated. We
often tell them to keep things to themselves. Then they get this tendency of
holding back. Small actions can reflect one’s personality. It can be a
hindrance to one’s personality. At the same time we can encourage their
giving and sharing attitude, and that can develop one’s personality. So, we
can do a lot in modifying the acquired talents or personality of a kid. But
you cannot do anything with the seed that a child is born with. That will
anyway come. These two aspects we have to distinguish, and that is wisdom.
And half the job is done if you can do that. The rest half, you have to
leave it to God. You have no control on rest half. So this whole process
teaches a lot of patience and perseverance, and yet leading them to where
they should be going. Giving them a dream and persuading them to walk
towards the dream is a biggest challenge in front of parents. So, expose
them to multifarious activities. This has to be done before a child is 10 or
11. You should take the child to science, arts and expose them to all the
faculties including doing service. On one Sunday, give them some chocolates
and ask them to distribute to the poorest people. Once or twice in an year,
take them to slum and ask them to do social service. This would enhance
their personality in some unknown manner and same thing in studies.
You have to expose them to both science and music. The left brain as well as
the right brain has to be nourished. You know, the concept of Saraswati,
Goddess of learning, is so amazing. If you look at the symbol of Saraswati,
there is a musical instrument, a book and a rosary in her hands. Book
symbolizes nourishing the left brain, the musical instrument symbolizes
nourishing the right brain and rosary symbolizes the meditative aspect. So,
knowledge, music and meditation – all three are required to make the
education complete. Then you can call someone educated and civilized. So,
make sure that children learn music and yoga. And also make sure that the
children have a scientific tempo, and they ask questions. Encourage them to
ask questions. A child starts asking questions at the age of three. Then on
they keep asking questions. Many times, they come up with questions of which
you have no answer. How many parents have this experience? They make you
wonder. They make you ponder on reality which is stunning. So, it is very
necessary for them to inculcate both music and scientific tempo.
Then see the personality of your child. See that they interact with various
age groups. How do they interact with little ones? How do they interact with
the ones who are older to them? How do they interact with someone of their
own age group? This is something very important. You can understand with
this whether they are developing any superiority or inferiority complex, or
if they are becoming introvert or extrovert. And you can play a very
important role here. Play some games with them, and encourage them to
interact with all the age groups, and we can mold their personality to a
very central, talented and flexible human being, to a personality which is
free of complexes. Children who have inferiority complex would like to
interact more with the younger ones and would try to run away from elder
ones and even try to avoid their equals. People with superiority complex try
to shun the younger ones, and would only want to relate to the older ones.
They are not good communicators in either case. As parents, you can teach
them communication skills. It is very important for them to learn how to
I want you to do an exercise. Tell to the person sitting next to you, “I
don’t trust you”. This is a chance to say it if it is your spouse
(Jokingly)! (After some period of time when audience couldn’t do it even
after being asked upon two – three times) You cannot do it seriously. See
how difficult it is to tell someone that you don’t trust him/her. It is
difficult to tell someone that you trust him/her. But it is even more
difficult to tell someone that you don’t trust him/her. Did you get it? Did
you notice you did something that you never did before? You told someone
that you don’t trust him/her and you start smiling. Has this ever happened
to you before? Children have a trusting tendency by nature. But somehow
their trust is broken. We need to look into that. Do they trust themselves?
Do they have enough confidence in themselves? A healthy child has three
kinds of trust.
A healthy child will have three kinds of trust - Trust in the divinity,
trust in the goodness of people and trust in one self. A healthy child will
not think that everybody is a thief or everybody is bad. He/ She doesn’t get
into this sort of paranoia. A healthy child knows that people are good. A
healthy child has trust in himself/ herself and trust in the unseen power of
God, Divinity, some higher power. These three types of trusts can make a
child genius .These are the ingredients to make a very talented and genius
child. To nurture them, we need to bring about these tendencies in them.
If you keep telling children that everyone is a cheat, the child loses its
trust in the people around and the society in general. Their personality,
talents and communication skills will shrink. Their interaction with people
will suffer a great deal. They become unsuccessful business persons,
unsuccessful professionals and unsuccessful artists. They may have talents
but this is the result you will get if trust in people and in the goodness
of things as they are is taken away. Today, you have many young people who
want to be entrepreneurs, but they are not successful. You know why? This is
the reason. They don’t trust in the goodness of people nor do they trust in
themselves. As parents we have to build these things in a child. Do you
encourage if they come to you with complaints? What do you do? Do you
encourage the negativity? Or you mould it to something positive. You have to
play a balanced role. Sometimes your child comes to you and says so and so
is so good, and you know that that friend of your son/ daughter is not so
good. Here you have to point out their mistakes and bring them to the center
line sometimes. They get swayed away by somebody and you know their habits
are not so good, then you have to tell the negative things. But if they are
telling you negative things about somebody, then you have to point out the
positive. So, you have to have a balancing act whenever a child swings too
much to the left or too much to the right. Do you agree with me? We create
an atmosphere around us. If we create an atmosphere of trust and children
grow in that atmosphere, they become brilliant. But, if we create an
atmosphere of negativity, distrust, or dejection, they are going to reflect
and bounce the same thing on us. Having come here today, I want to give you
an exercise to do which I want you to do every day. When you come back from
work and meet your children, the first thing you do is clap with them, or
play, or laugh. It may look little artificial for one or two days. But later
on, it will become a breakthrough for you and your kids. Sit and have food
with the whole family, as much as possible, at least 3 to 4 times a week.
And while having food, don’t tell them they are bad. While serving them
food, don’t put down their moods. There is a time to tell them when they are
wrong, never on the dining table.
Close your eyes for 30 seconds. Just suppose that everyone is telling you
that they don’t trust you. Think no one trusts you. How do you feel?(After
30 seconds) Open your eyes. Bad, sad, unhappy! You know this is the
atmosphere we create- ‘I don’t trust you, I don’t trust you’ .It is an
effort to create an healthy atmosphere, I understand because your life is
not only your own children. You have so many other things; you have to
interact with so many other people. When you have no control over your own
moods, it is difficult to make a mood or create an atmosphere just for the
sake of children. But we need to make an effort. So, let us quickly go over
once again. Have dinner with the kids atleast 3-4 times in a week. And when
you are having food, don’t point out their mistakes or blame them. See that
their mood is uplifted. See that their personality is developed such that
they don’t feel the generation gap. They interact with elders as well as
youngsters. Give them some responsibility of youngsters and sometimes some
responsibility to do something for older ones by which you can bridge their
generation gap.
Make sure that they have little bit of both science and arts. If you find
your child is too much oriented towards music and arts and doesn’t care for
science, then you put in little effort to take them to science museum or
make them do some mathematics. Encourage them a little bit towards science.
If they are too much into science and mathematics, give from musical side as
well. It is not difficult to put them on musical side, because they always
have musical or artistic side to them. But especially boys, you will have to
encourage them a little more .Girls naturally have an inclination towards
Engage them in some project where they are contributing, they are giving
rather than acquiring or possessing. We need to do something to inculcate
this tendency in children. Just small things, it doesn’t have to be anything
big. See that they have three types of trust. Trust in the goodness of
people. Tell them the stories or good happenings in the world not just only
the negative things. Trust in themselves, encourage them. Sometimes they
say, “I can’t do it”. Encourage them and tell them that they can do it. And
then trust in the goodness in the society. If they grow up with the feeling
of mistrust or fear, there will be paranoia. Their personality will start
shrinking, they can never blossom, they can never be good communicators in
the society. Trust the society and trust in divinity. A little bit of ritual
is essential to create an atmosphere for children. Make them sit and do some
chanting. Ask them to light a candle a lamp, some little bit of ritual is
good for them to hold on. Make them to break a coconut or go to temple. It
is important to root a little bit of sanskara about something that is
supernatural. Don’t you think it is necessary? A faith in the unknown can
take them a long way. Not too much, though, just a little bit. Make them
read a few shalokas. These things will develop their personality.
When children are very positive about their friends, give them a little
caution, but not too much. If they are very negative about some friends,
show that that there is something positive coming out there also. In this
way, you are pushing them to the center, not letting them fall on either
Learn from them. Don’t always stand up as a teacher. But participate with
them and learn from them.

Your questions.. Sri Sri answers..
Q: Why are there so many religions and communities? Why is the evil so strong?
Sri Ravi Shankar: Evil is not strong. You are giving it strength. It
appears as if evil is strong, but it is not. The greatest power on the
Earth is love. Love can melt any evil. It is due to lack of love and
wisdom that evil exists. The moment love and wisdom comes into play,
evil disappears. Like when the sun comes, the dew disappears. We have
seen this. You know, when we give some wisdom and love to the
extremists like terrorists, there was total change in those people.
Some 300,000 prisoners, so called criminals, have done the ‘Art of
living’ part 1 course, and their life has so much changed.