The Generous Parent
Parents’ primary duty is to provide nurturance, guidance and custodial care
for their children. Good parents are generous people who sacrifice personal
goals and pleasures in favor of caring for their children. Good parents are
benefactors who provide resources that their children need in a strategic and
judicious manner so their children grow into self-reliant adults with
responsibilities, careers and incomes.
Parents can guide their children by feeding them the correct food and by
selecting the best community, the best peer group and the best schools they can
identify and afford. An enlightened society would allocate generous resources to
achieving excellence in the nurturing and education of children above and beyond
the care provided by parents. Human narcissism begins with birth and infants are
relentless in their demands. They cry and scream when they are dissatisfied and
each infant has no doubt that he or she is the center of the universe.
A good parent supports this innate narcissism to build basic warmth and
confidence in the child. As the child matures, the excellent parent guides him
or her toward a more social and tolerant attitude towards others. The excellent
parent does not threaten or hit a child; conflict is resolved by negotiation,
humor and affection. An excellent parent encourages social interaction with
other children but is watchful and discriminating about the company the child
The transformation of narcissistic preoccupation of the young child into a
more social and caring older child is critical to the future ability of the
child to live a successful and happy life as an adult. The excellent parent is a
guru who leads the child from darkness to the light.
There are different ideas about child-rearing. The range is from strict
authoritarian approaches to nurturing and permissive approaches that encourage
self determination and creativity. An excellent parent knows that error is
inevitable and all learning involves mistakes.
There is a common tendency to punish mistakes and ignore successes. A better
strategy is to correct mistakes but not punish and reward good behavior, work
and good outcomes.
An excellent parent overrides the tendency to criticize, blame and punish and
with patience and practice, cultivates the opposite strategy. You have to pay
attention and reward success while quietly noting failures. The excellent parent
thinks in terms of protecting the child from danger and seeks remedial
strategies such as offering more opportunity to practice skills that are not
well-developed and guidance towards more successful strategies of interaction
with the world.
A good guru realizes that he or she cannot change the deep determinants of
karma in a child, but can nourish the good and promising qualities in each
individual and minimize or ignore the less desirable. The opportunity for a
positive parent's role in child development is greatest in the first five years
and diminishes thereafter. Teachers, adult relatives and other children pay an
increasing role in child development and peer influence dominates adolescent
development. Good parents, however, continue to play important roles at all
stages of development.
Good parents must be flexible and adaptive because their role and duties keep
changing. Mothers are busy providing all the logistical support their young
children require and express their hopes and aspirations by enrolling their
children in a succession of courses, clubs and sports activities. Emphasis
on these extracurricular activities can penalize both parent and child. Parents
risk becoming underpaid chauffeurs and servants to indulged children who fail to
become friendly and affectionate partners in creating and maintaining a
The accomplishments of children need to be placed in a perspective of what
ultimately makes life enjoyable and fulfilling. Children who are
preoccupied with their own recreation and structured activities may lose the
opportunity to enjoy their own playful creativity and just hanging out with
family and friends. They may not learn to care for themselves and others
in a peaceful, orderly home environment.