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Topic: Parenting

Reading Complexity: Easy
“I’m taking some good courses in college.” “That’s great. Tell me about some of them.” I cradle the phone on my shoulder as I help Jahnu, my three- year-old grandson, settle down to his lunch. Sitting next to him, I listen as a graduate of our school tells me about his classes, teachers, and life in general. “What about all those classes you took in that university overseas?” I ask. “Oh, credit...
Reading Complexity: Easy
“From the viewpoint of eternity, a life span of five thousand years is the same as that of five years: both are a flash, both temporary.” Two summers ago when the Reforestation Department of the Sequoia National Park in California gave away excess baby Sequoia trees, I got four and planted them on our nine-acre property in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Sequoias don’t produce...
Reading Complexity: Easy
It’s rather common now in America—a sign proclaiming “Drug-free School.” But teachers, parents, and students know the idea is a joke. Intoxicants—tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine—rage through the minds and bodies of young people practically everywhere. Studies, treatments, and educational programs have done little. Rather, children are taking intoxicants at younger ages, and use is increasing...
Reading Complexity: Easy
The first day of nursery school delivers a lesson for mom. Since nursery school was to be a new experience for our two- year-old, on the first morning I stayed in the school to help her adjust. For a while she clung to me, apprehensive, until she became intrigued by some toys. Finding one she particularly liked, she held it tightly and declared to the other children, “Mine.” As it was clear she...
Reading Complexity: Easy
When our oldest son was less than three, he and I were once in a supermarket when a woman passing out samples handed him a cookie that looked like ones made at our temple. He was several yards away from me, and I was apprehensive he’d automatically put the cookie into his mouth. Instead, he ran over to me and asked, “Prasadam? Prasadam?” I said no, it hadn’t been offered to Krishna and couldn’t...
Reading Complexity: Easy
Caring for children in the service of the Lord is a great blessing, a gift from the Lord given out of mercy. One can hardly claim to deserve such a gift, whether by educational achievements, spiritual dedication, or even just the willingness to do the work. A blessing? Sure, children can be smiling and glowing, but just as often they’re fighting and moping. Their growth in knowledge and skills,...
Reading Complexity: Easy
Our Dead Son’s Body, nine inches long, lay in my hand. For some months afterward, my natural affection—that motherly impulse hard-wired into body and mind—cried for that child. “What you grieve for is not the child,” the midwife told me, “but how you had projected that child into your life.” I had become attached to a desire to have a child to love and enjoy. That attachment, based on the body...
Reading Complexity: Easy
We sit in the Calcutta Airport waiting for an announcement, the flight three hours late. The many ceiling fans do little to refresh the air, polluted by cigarette smoke and hundreds of bodies. My ten-year-old son and I sit by a door, opened a crack but with negligible effect. I talk with a blue- saried nun from Puna who wishes us the best in our spiritual journey. Then I talk with a couple who...
Reading Complexity: Easy
Srila Prabhupada educational systems to produce high-class people, high not in wealth or status but in character. We often describe the ideal character of a brahmana (intellectual) as tolerant and austere, of a kshatriya (civic leader) as heroic, and so on. Yet for the training of our children, Srila Prabhupada also emphasized another quality: independence. Brahmanas, kshatriyas, and vaishyas (...
Reading Complexity: Easy
Children needs lots of love. Love your children, and then love them some more. It’s said that every great man had a mother who gave him much love. We often hear such glorification of love. But what does love really mean? The stereotype of a smiling parent holding a child with great care is not the complete picture of parental love. Judith Viorst, writing in Newsweek, says, “It didn’t take me long...
Reading Complexity: Easy
After giving Arjuna knowledge of matter and spirit, Lord Krishna tells him, “Deliberate on this fully, and then decide what you wish to do.” Our children also have to choose between material and spiritual life. To prepare them for this choice, do we need to give them experiences of both? Do our children need any experience of materialism to choose Krishna consciousness? The sages do indeed say...
Reading Complexity: Easy
Three adults are taking a group of children on an educational excursion, and the “no’s” begin. “Don’t climb on that fence!” “Stop putting your hand in your nose!” “Please stop hitting Vishakha!” “You’re making too much noise!” A lot of instruction about what not to do. Educator Michael Grinder calls telling someone what not to do a “double message.” He compares it to telling someone, “Don’t think...
Reading Complexity: Easy
Here in the material world it’s easy to become absorbed in attachment and love for our family, especially our children, and forget about loving God, Krishna. We often see a child’s photo or shoes or artwork given a prominent place within a home, almost as if the child were the worshipable deity of the household. Though the Vedic scriptures advise us to detach ourselves from such affection, Srila...
Reading Complexity: Easy
Once, some weeks went by when Srila Prabhupada was not writing as much as usual. When a disciple asked him if something was wrong, Prabhupada replied that every endeavor has periods of activity and relaxation. We parents and teachers who guide and care for children in Krishna consciousness must consider our need to relax, recharge, and get spiritual nourishment. Otherwise, we’ll become exhausted...
Reading Complexity: Easy
Two years old, Lalita Madhava sits with all her concentration focused on the book our 14-year-old daughter is showing her. Lalita Madhava’s older sister has just graduated from our gurukula school, her mother is at our house to print a letter, and Lalita Madhava is thinking of Krishna’s pastimes. “Krishna,” she says and points to the picture. She carefully turns the page. Having spent more than...
Reading Complexity: Easy
The year is full of holidays and special events unrelated to spiritual life. Even in India, where Janmashtami, the anniversary of Krishna’s divine birth, is a general festival, many other days are dedicated to the country or some ordinary, materialistic person. Outside of India, festival days sometimes even focus on demonic beings such as witches. National holidays, and even religious festivals...
Reading Complexity: Easy
Celibacy is such an important part of Vedic education that the Sanskrit word for student is brahmacari (“celibate”). The pressure to give up celibacy begins, of course, in adolescence, the most dangerous age and often the turning point of one’s life. Young adults need guidance before and during the teenage years to recognize and follow the right path. Celibacy trains adolescents for self-...
Reading Complexity: Easy
Can we make our children turn out the way we want? Srila Prabhupada once said, “If you place a child in good association, he will act properly, and if you place him in bad association, he will act improperly. A child has no independence in that sense.… According to Vedic civilization, as soon as a child is four or five years old, he is sent to a gurukula, where he is disciplined.” Anyone who has...
Reading Complexity: Easy
Why do children disobey or get into mischief? We might assume they’re simply rebellious, but that’s rarely the case. Let’s discuss some possible causes of misbehavior. The Lower Modes Lord Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita that material nature is composed of three modes: goodness, passion, and ignorance. Everything is in one of these modes or a combination of them—food, work, games, books,...
Reading Complexity: Medium
It’s 5:20 in the morning. For twenty minutes I’ve been chanting the maha-mantra on my beads: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. A group of children aged five through twelve had been sitting around me in a circle, also chanting. Forty minutes remain for my personal mantra meditation. I lean over and unlock a wooden cabinet with my...
Reading Complexity: Medium
Lord Krishna demands surrender, and Srila Prabhupada explains that without obedience one cannot attain to the Lord’s kingdom. So how do we teach our children obedience? Here are some ideas: BY EXAMPLE:We need to show our children how happy we are to obey the scriptures, Lord Krishna, and our spiritual master. Children will think it fair that we ask them to do something we are also willing to do....
Reading Complexity: Medium
Holidays! A break from routine, a special mark on the calendar, a day that can absorb a child’s mind for weeks or more beforehand. Holidays connected with Lord Krishna help children become absorbed in pleasing Him. The calendar of the Hare Krishna movement overflows with days to celebrate. Major festivals commemorate the divine birth, or appearance, of Krishna and His incarnations. Other...
Reading Complexity: Medium
What We See and Think Of, We Become When our oldest son, Madhava, was small, he had few toys—some blocks, some clay. We never had a television or a video player, so he played with his toys in imitation of what he saw—worship of Krishna, chanting of His names, initiation ceremonies, bathing of the Deity. Today, having grown up without television, he has transformed his childhood play into adult...