“Mummy, will I grow tall?”
“Pray to God and you’ll grow tall.”
“Mummy, what if don’t pray?”
“God will punish you.”
“Mummy, how to make God happy?”
“You tell him you will put your piggy bank money in the hundi in the temple…”
For years, sages and seers have been trying to analyse this concept called ‘God’ and yet, here are parents who can dismiss Him with an image reminding you of a stern school-teacher, greedy creditor and somehow open to bribery!! The child grows up with false notions about God. He starts depending on this genie to make him pass in his exams without studying! He distrusts God when his wishes are not granted and on the whole, becomes confused about this being called ‘God’. A pity, because He would have been a great source of inner strength, if sought with the right approach. This is where parents have to straighten their own perception of the Almighty.
To begin with, it’s all wrong to let your child look upon God as someone up there, ready with boons to be showered on those that woo Him. Let your child develop a pragmatic approach. If he wants to know how to grow tall, tell him he has to eat well, do push ups or stretching and bending exercises, play outdoors etc. why bring God into the picture? You must encourage your child to believe that he is the architect of his life. How he designs his actions and thoughts, will determine the shape his future will take. Let him believe in his own capacity and encourage him to build up confidence in his ability. God need not be introduced at this stage.
If your child is doing something wrong, don’t threaten him with dire consequences from an angered God. There is no point in putting the fear of the unseen in him. On the other hand explain to him how he has been blessed with certain comforts and luxuries and how he’d be hurting the Benefactor by not behaving himself. Let him get a feeling of love for the supreme being. Show him how beautiful is the world with its rivers and dales, mountains, birds, flowers, human beings, insects and animals … Let him connect God with a mysterious force which directs the harmonious sights and sounds of nature. The master craftsman who has moulded the symmetrical bodies of humans and animals… the child will look upon Him as a creator --- a friend … a person to be respected and loved.
Make the child realize that this benevolent conductor of the universe, wishes all His creatures to be good and happy and any discordant action of theirs will make him unhappy. Fear of God’s unhappiness should be born out of love for Him and a hesitation to incur His displeasure… not wrath!
Another harm a parent can do to a child’s belief is by giving him false hopes like saying he will become tall by praying!! The child, if he does not become tall, will look upon God as a ‘cheater’ who takes in all the prayers but doesn’t fulfill His side of the bargain!
Your responsibility as a parent is tremendous. You have to explain to a child, a mystery that saints have not been able to fathom God. In your explanation lies the little one’s entire attitude towards Him. Be very careful. Let your child believe that “God is what man finds that is divine in himself. God is the best way man can behave in the ordinary occasions of life, and the farthest point to which man can stretch himself.” Once a child gets his ideas sorted out, he will look upon all attendant theories like religion, caste and creed, as mere words.
In this age of terrorism violence and cruelty, the only safe concept is that of God. Don’t steal this anchor from your child. All else that you bestow on him will be futile. The faith that you instill in him will be his fountainhead of strength, his moral fibre.