Only wise and loving parenting will enable a child to realise his/her true potential, to be a loving and gentle human being and to develop robust self-esteem. here, three successful parents share their secrets
Of materialism, motherhood and mindfulness
how do you insulate your children against the philosophy of plenty?
‘Live in an attitude of abundance,’ urge the New Age gurus. It is the most charming, almost bewitching dictum—to live with faith in the infinite benevolence of an infinite universe and to respond to all urges, however infinite they may be. The soul indeed should know no limitations, no material restrictions. Only then, fulfilled, will it learn that material is immaterial and soar forth free.
The idea is enchanting. But in real life, I trip upon the concept of abundance continuously. I am the mother of two young children and parenting provides me a touchstone, a constant ‘kasauti’ for testing the gold content of a concept—and abundance, I find, doesn’t come through with 24K purity—it’s a mixture of elements, a complex compound. So how does one convey abundance as a value to one’s children?
I walk into the rooms of my own children and those of their friends. Broken Batmans, abandoned Barbies, heaps of assorted board games and a collection of video game CDs are overwhelming. I think back upon my own childhood—the precious doll and shared Mechano set, whose memory does not fail to thrill! Or still further back to the languorous afternoons spent with marbles, pebbles, and sticks as playthings. Are today’s children’s abundance of playthings a lack of satisfaction, and
were not yesterday’s children’s, with the abundance of opportunities for creative play and inventiveness, better off?
The explosion of materialistic values all around us interferes with the picture-perfect-abundance-ideal, blurring its clarity for me. Where does abundance end and lack begin? Today with our ever-new models of faster, bigger, swishier cars and smaller, sleeker cell phones, we seem to be at the acme of abundance. Isn’t this profusion of gizmos and gadgets a huge lack—of stillness, space, silence and time? What happens between the abundant, beautiful, easy flowing mindset, and the hollow craving, engendered by an acquisitive lifestyle?
‘Simple living and high thinking,’ went the old dictum, and my own parents’ generation had no problem handing it to us as a core value. But we, with our newfound belief in ‘abundance’, get confused. As parents we are no longer clear about steering our children into choices of simplicity for we are scared that denial and disciplining will create their own set of problems, messing up their inner script in ways unintended. The value system of simplicity has been dethroned by the value system of abundance in the New Age, and there are moments when I feel that perhaps it’s not such a great gain.
Excessive engagement with the material clutters up the space-time continuum, binding time and mind together into a knot, trying to lasso into life the next object of desire. And then, the next. Simplicity on the other hand, seems to have inherent in it, the opportunity for high thinking and spiritual growth. Thus as parents we need to think of ways to steer our children into choices, which are nourishing and wholesome for their spiritual growth and personal development without making them feel deprived or denied. We cannot simply wait and watch the mountain of waste, in their rooms and in their world, grow.
The circle of desire can be broken but in a positive, affirmative way. We need to help our children discover the Middle Path. For instance, while eating a meal, the key to satiation lies in mindfulness, of giving each morsel respect and attention, of savouring the food fully, thereby sending messages of fulfillment to the brain. This is perhaps the way out of every material conundrum—whatever gizmo, gadget, comfort or toy, the heart longs for—let the mind be in it fully, in a spirit of delight and fulfillment.
The quick rush of enjoyment which consumption brings may never yield to puritan denial but mellow feelings of satisfaction may conquer constant craving—lengthening the gap, the pause, the space between that ‘which is’ and that ‘which is next’ on the shopping list. In such a suspended moment of satisfaction, one may come face to face with what abundance truly means.
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