Ganesh Chaturthi is here again. Along with enjoying modaks and other delicacies, there are also some parenting lessons we can imbibe from the unique bond between Parvati and her beloved son, Ganesha.
By Aarthi Arun
It is a custom to pay tributes to the Elephant God Ganesha before beginning a task or a venture, as he is known as the remover of obstacles. Also, Ganesha is the god of intellect, and is compassionate and helpful. Instilling all these qualities can help our children grow into well-balanced individuals.
So, how did Goddess Parvati manage to inculcate these values in her son Ganesha? Let us look at some interesting stories to understand this, and also draw some lessons from the close bond the mother and son share with each other.
The story of Ganesha's birth and how he got the elephant head is very interesting. Parvati created Ganesha from the turmeric paste she used to apply before taking a bath. However, when this happened, Lord Shiva wasn't around. Hence, he remained unaware of who Ganesha actually was.
Young Ganesha had the highest regard for his mother. They spent a lot of time with each other and shared a close bond. One day, Lord Shiva found Ganesha standing guard outside their home. Parvati had asked him to not let anyone inside until she came back from her bath in a nearby river. As both Shiva and Ganesha did not know each other, Ganesha refused entry to Lord Shiva. They argued and Shiva became so angry that he chopped off Ganesha's head.
When Parvati came back, she accused Shiva of killing their son and was utterly heartbroken. Aghast, Shiva called on all the gods to search for Ganesha's head. When they were unable to find it, he asked them to get the head of the first living being they encountered. So, they got an elephant's head, and the rest, as you know, is history.
Be there for your child: Children equate time with love. Take a cue from Parvati, spend quality time with your child — bond over activities like playing games or doing tasks together. This will boost your child's self-confidence and develop his social skills. A confident, happy child will be intrinsically motivated to do the right things.
Love your child, unconditionally: Often, our love for our children is shadowed by our desire to see them get ahead of others. Regardless of Ganesha's appearance, Parvati's love for him never changed. So, don't let issues like your child's bad behaviour or poor academic performance undermine or colour your love for your child. Love her for who she is, and not for what she does.
Kubera, the lord of wealth, proudly invited Shiva to a feast so he could show off his wealth. Shiva decided to teach him a lesson and sent Ganesha instead. Kubera laughed at the sight of young Ganesha. How much could a child eat, he thought with disdain. However, little Ganesha gorged on everything he found at the feast and kept asking for more and more! Nothing satiated his hunger. He told Kubera that if he wasn't given more food, he would eat Kubera's palace too. Desperate, Kubera rushed to plead with Shiva, urging him to stop Ganesha. Shiva and Parvati advised Kubera to lovingly give Ganesha a handful of flattened rice, instead. Then and only then, is Ganesha's hunger satisfied. Kubera learned his lesson and his wealth is saved.
Know your child: Understand your child's personality to nurture and guide him better. Allow him to pursue his interests and goals, and empathise with him. Doing so reduces the chances of meltdowns and bad behaviour. In turn, your child gets the support and encouragement he needs to do well.
Once, Shiva and Parvati received a mango from the sage Narada. This special mango has the power to bestow all the knowledge of the world on the individual who eats it. So, Shiva and Parvati want to offer the mango to their sons, Ganesha and Karthikeya. But, there is a catch: there is only one fruit and it must be eaten whole. So, Shiva and Parvati come up with a plan. They throw a challenge is to their children. It requires them to go around the world and the winner gets to eat the mango. His avian friend, the peacock, carries Karthikeya on his back and speedily flies away. Ganesha, however, is smarter. He circles his parents, telling them that they are his world. His quicksilver wit wins him the fruit, much to Karthikeya's dismay.
Appreciate your child's uniqueness: Ganesha is unique, because of his looks and the way he thinks. Parvati and Shiva appreciate Ganesha's out-of-the-box thinking by offering him the fruit. Similarly, don't curb your child's enthusiasm by asking him to do things in a certain way. Let him be creative, and reach for the stars.
One day, little Ganesha finds a cat to play with. Being an enthusiastic child, Ganesha plays with it in a somewhat rough manner and hurts the cat. After play, Ganesha heads home, leaving the cat behind. Upon reaching home, he is shocked to find his mother Parvati with wounds all over her body. When Ganesh enquires about them, Parvati says that she was the cat he was playing with. Ganesh apologises and promises to treat all living beings with respect.
Teach morals and values: Morals and values teach a child how to distinguish right from wrong. As, a parent, it is up to you to instil these in your child. And what better way to do than to model these qualities through your everyday behaviour and actions.
Be it gods or mortals, parenting a child is a challenge and a huge responsibility. However, the underlying rules remain the same — love, connect with, appreciate and guide your child. Ensure there is a nurturing environment that enables your child to grow up emotionally, mentally and physically healthy. Take this advice to your heart, and have a happy and blessed Ganesh Chaturthi!
About the author:
Written by Aarthi Arun on 12 September 2018.
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