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Children feel that whatever their parents do is always best, so they often become exactly like their parents. If the parents like something, immediately the children like it. If the parents have some good friends, spiritual friends, the children immediately become friends with them. In the beginning, children always try to imitate their parents. So, parents should always behave extremely well in front of their children. If the parents misbehave, the children will be totally ruined. If the parents tell lies or do bad things, then the children will follow their parents’ example.

Early in the morning, if you get up to pray and meditate with folded hands, for a few days your child may remain fast asleep while you are doing it. But soon a sweet sense of competition will come into him. If his father or his mother can meditate, what is wrong with him doing it? Then the child will sit beside you and meditate. The best example is the parent’s own life. The parent’s life is the child’s ideal.

You can offer your children most effective spiritual help only by leading the divine life yourself — that is to say, by action, not by preaching. Whatever you tell a child to do, you yourself have to do first. You may tell your children, “Get up at seven o’clock and pray and meditate” but the next morning you will be sleeping. Similarly, you may tell your children not to tell lies, but you yourself will tell lies. Everything you do you will justify by saying, “Oh, I have passed your stage; these things don’t affect me.” But you have to know that they do affect you and they also affect your children.

If you ask your children to get up and meditate and you yourself do the same, automatically they get added strength. But if you don’t do the same thing, already half their strength goes away. Their attention is immediately diverted. They think: “If this is really good, how is it that my mother is not doing it?”

Always try to become an example for your children. If you ask your children to draw something and you yourself start cooking, you will be making a mistake. You should not cook at that time; you should go and draw with your children. Even while the children are playing with a ball, although you may feel that you have important things to do, the most important thing for you to do is to keep the children company. There can be nothing more important in your life. If you really want to see their progress, make them happy — not by becoming indulgent, not by giving them twenty toys at a time, but by doing something for them, by giving them the feeling that they are good and divine.

When you are with them, tell them, “God loves you most. You are His chosen child. The whole world is waiting for you to do something divine.” This is what I mean by making them happy. To give them real happiness, make them feel that God wants them. This is not insincere flattery. When parents admire and adore a child, even if the qualities that they are admiring are not to the fore, they come to the fore.

It is always good to inspire young children. To inspire them you do not have to paint a big painting or read a beautiful poem. No! Say to them one nice word and immediately they are inspired. Give them a soulful smile or a soulful look and immediately they will see something inside your smile, which will inspire them and make their hearts expand.

If you tell a child that he is good, your human mind will say that you have only aggrandised his ego. But your heart will know that immediately the child’s heart has expanded. His heart is like a bud that needs to unfold. From each good word and each kind gesture that you offer him, petal by petal the rose or lotus inside the child’s heart will blossom. In this way, at every moment you can inspire children with your own way of approaching divinity.

If you can inspire your child with love, then he will inspire somebody else with love. It is from the one that we come to the many. This is the only way the world can progress. When a spiritual Master like the Christ comes, he is only one person; but he inspires millions and millions. We cannot dream of transforming humanity all at once; it is a slow process. But by starting with the children of the world, eventually the face of reality is transformed by divine love.

parent guide

(This excerpt was selected from the chapter Healthy Sleep in A Child’s Heart and a Child’s Dreams by Sri Chinmoy)

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