Gandhiji's life and values have more relevance today than ever before. On his birthday, why not revisit some of his impactful sayings and explain the valuable lessons behind them to your children?
Staying in a confined space and not being able to enjoy the freedom and social interaction can threaten to bring out the worst in both parents and children. So, how can you motivate yourself and your children to stay positive, follow the path of truth and forgiveness, and embrace a harmonious way of life that seeks to show compassion and tolerance to every being? It is a difficult path to take but not impossible.
For instance, drawing inspiration from the life of great visionaries is a good way to start. Children love stories and often get motivated by the lives and principles of great women and men. On the birth anniversary of our 'Father of the Nation' Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, talking about his life, struggles, his writings, and morals would be a meaningful exercise to engage with children. Gandhiji famously said, "My life is my message." Taking motivation from his messages to humanity and trying to apply it in small ways in everyday life can bring about a positive change for both parents and children.
Here are some powerful quotes by Mahatma Gandhi and how you can apply them to everyday life situations
"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."
How to apply it to a life situation: Gandhiji strongly believed in peaceful resolution and condemned all forms of violence. According to him, violence could only bring misery and could never be a solution to any problem. Whenever children throw tantrums, behave violently or have fights with their siblings, parents need to stay calm and focus on a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Shouting or resorting to punishment by beating a child can only escalate the problem.
When parents resort to aggression, it gives your child the idea that violence is accepted. First, wait for your child to calm down. Show compassion. Explain to him what he did was wrong and why his anger is a waste of energy. Be very clear that resorting to violence will not work in getting what they want. When your child understands this logic, he will start believing in the principle of non-violence.
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
How to apply it to a life situation: This may be especially relevant to school-going and teenage children, who are often confused about their existence and life goals. Instead of preaching about selfless service, it is a good idea to teach by example. Even small deeds can make a big impact - take your child on a tree-planting drive or ask her to accompany you to an old-age home to speak some soothing words to the inmates.
Make her distribute food and clothing to less-privileged people. Even something as small as feeding hungry street dogs in your locality on a daily basis can drive the message of selfless service to your little one.
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."
How to apply it to a life situation: We live in a materialistic world today and most people are focused on acquiring worldly comforts and earthly pleasures for most of their lives. It is not surprising that children may follow the same path as the older people around them and give importance to material things - big and expensive toys, advanced gadgets, and so on. The list never ends.
So how do you inculcate in them a sense of contentment and the values of minimalism? Teach them to enjoy the small things in life and to cherish experiences rather than material objects. The pandemic has shown us how life can go on in the most constrained environments. Spending at least one day in a week cooking together, watching your favorite movies, enjoying the rain, looking up at the stars, laughing and sharing stories as a family, or helping someone in need will demonstrate to children to be content with what they have.
"Truth never damages a cause that is just"
How to apply it to a life situation: Parents often wonder how to explain to their children the importance of speaking the truth, no matter what. The best way to do this is to lead by example. Gandhiji strongly advocated the concept of Satya and said that however difficult it may be to speak the truth, the discomfort is only momentary. Even though telling a lie to seem easy in the beginning, it can ruin a person's life. When you speak the truth, your children will understand the significance of doing the same.
"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
How to apply to a life situation: This is easy and you can adopt it in your day-to-day life. When you celebrate life and make the most of even mundane things, your joys will increase manifold. For example, if your child attended all the online classes in a month without a tantrum and showed interest in learning, appreciate her for her efforts. Celebrate by making her favorite dish. Sing and dance together.
In the same way, encourage your child to embrace life-long learning. Suggest learning a creative skill or taking up an activity like yoga or meditation. Tell her interesting anecdotes and stories, which will help her form valuable insights about life. Learning need not always come only from books but also from the environment around us.
Mahatma Gandhi's life is a lesson in humility, tolerance, patience, and determination for all of us. It is more relevant today than ever. Let's give our children an opportunity to learn great lessons from his life.
ParentCircle is a magazine that empowers parents to raise successful and happy children. SUBSCRIBE NOW