October 27, 2017

What is too-much love?

Is there a thing called too-much love?

When you feel secure and worthy of too-much love that you receive from your spouse, why do you feel that too much love may spoil your child?

Why is there even a term called too-much love?

Is love limited?

Is love conditional?

Is love limited to certain behaviour?

What is love?

Is love momentary?

Can't love build trust?

Can't love prove worth?

Can't love teach empathy?

Can't love teach responsibility?

Can't love show kindness?

When love can teach so many things and heal so many wounds, why is there a term too-much love in the context of a child?

Why is there a fear that too-much love may spoil the child?

Before you make statements and judgements on what the child is ought to receive from you: too-much love or conditioned-love, it is a good reminder to know what love is and what it actually means to respond to a crisis,  in love.

Simple check that you could do is, imagine your spouse responding to you the way you do to your child. Do you feel good? Do you feel secure? If the answer is No, it is time to rethink the way you parent. Or, even better, imagine yourself in your child's situation and respond just as you would like your parent to respond to you.

We are all beings with attachment and bonding. Right from birth, all that the baby looks for is attachment and love. Children need love from us. You can read this post which talks about how we can Show some love in any situation.

There can be no life without love. You have to make efforts to understand this principle of love and make it a part of your life. Love always maintains the quality of fullness. It neither increases nor decreases. It is from the fullness of love that Divinity manifests. Where there is total love, God will manifest then and there. -Sathya Sai

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Let go off the fear in childhood

We keep hearing phrases like:

People explore themselves in their 20s.

We get to see life only when we are away from our home.

We learn life only when we step outside the house.

If the learning about oneself was a continuous process since childhood, then it should have been definitely healthy. But, what if this learning about one's own self happened only when they were outside their homes OR in their 20s just because their childhood was spent all tied up in fear?

Why wasn't the childhood spent in knowing the self. Exploring one's own self and exploring the world is a continuous process that happens right from birth. If someone noticed it or not, it suddenly stops happening right when formal schooling starts. The child is enrolled for the rat race. All that the child has in his plate to do, are things like:

Category A
Class work
Home work
Prepare for tests
Score marks
Score ranks

Category B
Work book
Hobby class

the ratio A:B keeps increasing with higher classes, where B complete disappears once the child has reached 8th grade in school.

Even if the category B was done in primary and middle school, it was mainly for the marks assigned for the project and mostly done by parents with minimal effort from children. Where does the innate curiosity of children disappear once they start formal schooling?

Once schooling starts, children mainly differentiate their work into two categories - school and play. All the work that comes from school is either being avoided or being done just for the marks.
All that children are more interested in is play. Because humans are designed to learn from play and daily life. You cannot separate learning from living.

A child who goes to school is already burdened so much with rules, instructions, yelling, scolding, punishments, time outs, marks, mugging, name calling, name shaming, bullying, that once she is away from school, she is more interested in spending time in play and that is where the differentiation has just begun. Whereas, ideally, play is not different from learning. Playing is learning. Living is learning.

The early childhood(upto 5 years) is spent in fear of parents and strangers. The strangers that would pick the child away if food is not eaten or if the child is found to be mischievous in the eye of parent. From 6 years, life is led in fear of teachers/parents/ranks/society. And, in the 20s or when the child goes outside home for college is when the child is on his own to think and act according to her decisions. That is when she starts realising how her life passed by and what she really wants to do in life.

What if this space was provided by parents at home itself during the childhood years? There is plenty of time available for children to explore themselves. Why should they lead their precious time in fear of not being in par with everyone in whatever activity it is?

I have already written on how children are being forced/threatened to learn what their parents wish for here. Isn't learning a natural process? Shouldn't the learner fall in love with what they are learning? Why should there be threat? Why should there be fear? Why can't there be love? Why is love so much feared about? Seriously, why is it rooted in people's mind that 'too much love spoils'? Can't too much love teach responsibility? Can't too much love build trust?

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Simple play with stone

Do not deny a child who is constantly seeking opportunities around her with her curious self.

Me and DD2 were outside while DD1 was playing at the park. DD2 has spotted stones and with the usual amusing tones that she was making, I could understand that she was asking me to give her one.

I picked up a stone, showed her while holding in between my fingers, transferred it to her hand and  watched her. Just when she was trying to take it to her mouth, I moved it a bit showing the dust on the stone and also expressing that it was not something that we could eat. Suggested her to throw it and made sure I would give her another stone. Gently held her hand and threw it at some distance, all the while making some expressions and sounds. 

Gave her another stone and REPEAT.

There were laughs and giggles as I dropped a stone in her hand and as the stone landed back on the ground.

There is so much to be happy about when around a kid.

There is always a choice of suggesting appropriate ways of playing with objects that are seen as inappropriate with kids of young age. Of course, all your eyes need to be focussed on the child and the object all through it. Every situation throws an opportunity to connect with your child. Let them see new things. Let them feel new things. Let them play. Let them learn.


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October 23, 2017

Society says, Be tough with your child!

Why am I always on the other side of all the traditional parenting principles? Why do I think for the child in contrast to against the child(well, I do receive suggestions on how to be tough with children)? Why do I understand the pain of being through a tough childhood? Why do I realise the gift of children being surrounded with positive words?

And many more whys.

OK, enough of the whys(reasons for which are known and whose discussion may not be of any use here).

Leave apart the why, let's focus on what else I can learn and how else I can contribute in the journey of another soul on the earth.

The suggestions that I frequently receive:

  • Let your child(infant) cry for a while. This aids in the digestion of all the milk she feeds on. (Oh! Really? If it were for the physical activity, as if she is not being played with and cuddled enough!)
  • Let your child cry for a while before you pick her up or take her for her feed. (Again! Is it?) The child knows better when she is hungry, the child knows better when she is feeling sleepy, the child knows better when she is in a mood to play on her own and even better when she wants to have a companion to play with. It is not the lack of anything when a one year old is asking for your company to play with her. 
  •  Be tough with your child even when she is crying, this will toughen her up to deal with the bad world around. But Why? Why can't someone be able to learn the world with a positive eye? Just because child abuse is rampant in the society, we cannot start child abuse at home as if we are providing the foundation of what the world would be offering later. 
  • Do what you wish, to your child, even if she refuses/denies/cries because she has to become tough and strong to gain her position in society later. No. You do not oppress a child's opinion so that she complies to you now and complies to whatever society tells her in her later life. You encourage your child to voice her opinion, you respect your child's words, you see through your child's perspective so that she continues to raise her voice to make a positive impact in the society all through her life. 
  • You can manipulate your child to whatever you wish to. Again? Why do you always want to mute the child's voice. Your toddler knows best when she says 'enough, ma'  because she is not able to take any more food. Children can sense the unseen. If you always try to manipulate your child to what you wish her to do on the physical level, the child stops becoming aware of all the wonderful things that her mind catches in nature. More than being present merely on physical plane, we are all spiritual beings. Children are more aware of their spiritual knowledge than the adults are. 

If there are rules to be followed, to be part of the society, I am more than happy staying away from it and carve my own path to happiness. 

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October 09, 2017

Overcoming or Living in Fear?

What is the purpose of educating a child?

Does education mean imparting fear of consequences in a child so that the child will excel in studies only to gain rank whose performance is solely based on 'fear' and not 'love'.

Is participating in all the extra curricular activities solely based on the 'Fear of Missing out' effect that mainly arises from the parents. Oh, my friend's daughter is going for skating class, you should also go from tomorrow. Oh! he is writing even P, Q and R apart from A, B, C, tomorrow you should write all the alphabets A- Z in front of our guests.

What is all the peer-pressure about? The true meaning of achievement is lost all the chaos that surrounds a child's life.

Children, from very young age are being threatened. Threatened for not eating right, for not walking right, for jumping around the house, for using loud voice, for playing actively, for not doing what was told, for not listening to the class teacher, for not getting good grades, for not participating in the dance competition, for using green colour for the sky and the list goes on. Are we not burdening a child with umpteen number of fears? Is this the true purpose of education?

In my view, education is about gaining the knowledge to learn the self, the truth and finally getting liberated of all the inner fears and turmoil and not succumb to the fears created by society

Are today's parents imposing fear or leading the child to let go off the fears within? 
Are today's school imposing fear of timelines or encouraging the child to unfold on his own?

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Schooling or Unschooling?

What is education?

What is the purpose of going to school daily?

What is the purpose of teaching?

What is being taught in schools?

What is being learnt by the students?

Questions, questions everywhere. Isn't it?

Yes, there are many questions and for us to even understand and accept the fact that there could be questions on such an established system of education needs huge amount of unlearning of the learning that has happened in our childhood.

Do I seem complicated? For me, I never expected I would ever get such thoughts and questions on the school system, may be, because I was one student who always loved going to school, would cry if I had to miss even one day because of bad health, would always be alert in the classes, do all my classwork and homework so neatly that my notebook was always being circulated among various sections for reference, performed well even in sports, loved playing basketball, high jump and running races. Loved going to the library and computer class. Participated in almost all the extra co-curricular activities that the school had to offer - debate, skit, recitation, spontaneous speech presentation, singing. Been the class captain continuously for long periods of time. Had also sported 4 badges on my sleeve at an instance, as class monitor, house captain, first rank and something that I don't remember. All in all, I loved going to school and I fared well in all tests that in turn got me many praises in my time there. But, now, when I look back at life, I notice that most of the learning that happened in life has happened only when I was outside the four walls of my classroom. All that happened inside the class was transfer of words from book to brain and then reciprocating the same in the exam paper. By learning, I mean the spiritual learning, the emotional learning, the social learning, ways of dealing with different kinds of people, ways to choose our response in crisis and many other scenarios that we practically encounter in everyday life.

So, what is to be questioned here? Is it the teaching methodology, the ways of a student or education system? Let us talk about the education system. Most of us already know and agree that the education system is not being updated with recent advancements that happen around us.

Also, as an example, as you read history from a school text book, you can find hundred other books that contradict the facts that are mentioned in the school history text book.

There are millions of resources to learn from, that are available on the internet.

For subjects like science and computer, it is always the practicals that make sense. Theory, which mainly consisted of memorising huge terms and definitions was probably not the only way to learn the concepts.

As we ponder more on the schooling system, let us discuss a bit about the Ancient Indian Education System (AIES). What was it like? The Ancient Indian Education System consisted of:

  • Inquiry about one self
  • Inquiry about the universe
  • Finding the truth
  • Knowing ways to merge with the universal energy
  • Spiritual wisdom, Vedic Education
  • Knowledge on how to grow food, keep clean to live a comfortable life.

And, what the present system of education (PSE) mainly does is:

  • Grooming all the children uniformly to meet the industry standards.
  • Teaching some of the many money-earning tools by which one can generate income and live on it.
  • Learning seems to be all about memorising some facts and scoring ranks.
  • Success is being defined by the rank a student scores or the salary/position an adult earns.

The simple fact that all children cannot be graded on a standard scale is not respected in the Present System of Education. Not every child will start talking by age 2 or 2.5 years. How can every child be able to write the alphabets by age 3.5/4 years. Why can't it be according to the child's interest and ability? Why are there standard tests for children of 3, 4, 5 years? Do the makers of the tests and parents even understand how a child's brain develops in those years (upto 6 years)? Is it not the peer-pressure that drives parents to go crazy about 'their child should do this by this age' kind of thing? And, the school, what interest does a school mainly have? School mainly would be interested in boasting of how many top rankers it has produced in the 10th boards, how their children as young as 4 will be able to excel in writing, how their students are always kept busy with one activity after another in international standards and the like.

What are we doing to the children?

What are the parents targeting for?

What is the learning that we impart to children?

And finally, What is the purpose of living?

In general, a child's brain is constantly developing until 6 years of age. A child has not yet gained logical, reasoning, critical thinking, analytical thinking skills until at least age 5. All that the child is growing up on, is love and only love. Children are born curious. Starting from birth, they keep observing their surroundings and absorbing any knowledge that their surrounding has to offer - be it material, emotional, psychological or spiritual. Because of the lack of matured thinking, their decisions or acts are usually spontaneous and misunderstood by adults as not being capable of or as being naughty. But, those are the times that the child needs utmost love from the family.

How was childhood spent in Ancient India?

In ancient days, the first 5 years are spent in close company with family, observing and taking part in the daily activities that the family members are involved in - growing food, rearing cattle, playing outside etc. In the 5th or 7th year, ceremony by name 'Upanayana' is performed for the child and the child is imparted with knowledge and wisdom by a Guru. Vedas were considered the ultimate source of truth and studying the vedas was like an everyday task. The knowledge gained mainly consisted of:
  • inquiry within one self - knowing who I am
  • inquiry about universe - knowing about the universe - this mainly led to making calculations of distances from earth to moon, sun and many other entities. To use terms from present system of education, this inquiry led to gaining knowledge on geography, physics, mathematics
  • Travelling - led to learning about other regions, cultures and people ( Geography)
  • learning about other species - this mainly led to learning about plants and their healing effects (Ayurveda)
  • learning about elements of nature - this led to studying other particles and compounds present in atmosphere (Rasayana Sastra). For the present system of education, this would mean Chemistry
  • Spiritual wisdom - This includes learning about how we deal crisis in life, how we choose to react/respond, learning to develop the positive feelings within and stay undeterred during any negative experiences. For the present system of education, may be, just 2% of what was and what can actually be taught has been cut short to one class by name 'moral science' or 'personality development'
  • Taking care of other species - rearing cattle
  • Growing food - people used to grow one's food on their own
  • Most importantly, they have been leading a minimalist life, with having what they just needed for their living.

So, how did the Ancient Indian Education System gradually disappear? How did Present System of Education take its form?

Then, the world witnessed an epic industrial revolution. This, for sure, improved our daily tasks, increased trading between countries and led to economic growth, but, what has it done to the calm, serene ancient education and living?

The complete system of education had to be re written. Now, people needed to be trained on a particular skill so that they could run a machine and produce goods for a company's trade.

People no longer learn about one's own self or the universe, but, just about how a machine works and it's operation. Then, there began a competition of who is the most efficient user of the machine? Who should be rewarded for his speed of operation? Who should be shamed for his lack of interest in such machinery tasks? The schooling system had to be such that the student would be trained to be obedient and obey the rules of the organization when he moves on to work for salary. The goal of 'learning about the self and universe' has slowly changed to goals like 'earn more rewards', which could lead to 'earn more money'.

Where have we reached?

Aren't all the life goals overwritten?

What is the present system of Education doing to children?

It is taking in huge bunch of children with varied talents and skills, putting them across standard scales with very limited attributes and praising/shaming for their performance.

Did you ever wonder what the schooling system has done to you ? Do you ever assess what it would do to your child?

For one to understand what all this means, one needs to go through the unlearning process, unlearn all that our mind has learned in structured environment, unlearn all that one has learnt about living and start afresh.

Look at life just as how a child would look at it. Stay curious. Do wonders.

Recommended to watch: Schooling the world

Recommended to read: How schools kill creativity? Schools are for industrial era

Popular series on how facts are twisted to public: Adam Ruins Everything

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