Good Parenting

Mahatma Gandhi & Good parenting advice :

Mahatma Gandhi was one of those people who believed strongly in the goodness of family life and therefore he never endorsed the view of separating young children from their parents for studies or any other reason.

His opinion on the subject is well summed up in his own words: “The education that a child imbibes in a well-ordered household is impossible to obtain in hostels”. This statement made by him almost half a century ago, in fact still holds true in todays’ fast paced world, a world in which we see children who are not even a year old being left in crèches. This is of course the case only because both the parents of the child are busy with their careers and therefore do not have time to spare for the child.

Most parents perhaps overlook the fact that the children undergo their most formative part of their life in the first six years of their life. In fact it is in this phase that 80% of their mental make-up takes place. And it is this fact coupled with the state of parenting that exists today, that makes one wonder about what sort of legacy we are passing on to the next generation. In fact, it makes one wonder whether there is any legacy to talk about at all.

Gandhi’s views on parenting and the importance of parenting can be summed up in another belief that was held by him and as stated by him: “for proper upbringing of children, the parents ought to have a general knowledge of the care and nursing of babies”. In fact, it is believed that the development of the child begins in the conception stage of the fetus itself.

It is believed that the physical and mental states of the parents at the moment of conception have an effect an on the characteristics of the infant. And in fact thereafter the moods of the mother throughout the period of pregnancy, the desires and the temperament collectively have a strong developmental effect on the child’s mental state.

Mahatma Gandhi considered character building as the highest form of learning that is to be imparted to a child. In his own words on the subject he states: “I had always given the first place to the culture of the heart or the building of character, and as I felt confident that moral training could be given to all alike, no matter how different their ages and their upbringing, I decided to live amongst my children all the 24 hours of the day as their father. I regarded character building as the proper foundation for their education and if the foundation was firmly laid, they would be able to face life in a much better way.

However, according to Gandhi character education of a child never equated to propagating to force one’s viewpoint on the children. It was Gandhi who said, “It is idle to expect one’s children and wards necessarily to follow the same course of evolution as oneself.”

Mahatma Gandhi on Character Education:

Mahatma Gandhi was born in Porbander, which is a small town in Gujarat. He was born into a family of humble origins. His father did not have more than an education of the third grade, and his mother was illiterate. Most of the other senior members of the Gandhi family also had very meager academic education.

Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi was therefore the very first person from his family to obtain the degree of graduation from a high school. However, it is also to be noted that his academic achievement was below average. And in spite of such humble beginnings and a below average performance in the academic fields, Gandhi went on to become the most reckoned leaders of India who led India to achieve the state of freedom. This is because, though Gandhi’s parents could not impart much of academic education, they ensured that they instilled in him a strong character education.

It is this very strength of character that later enabled Gandhi to educate himself and complete the London Matriculation as well as the London Bar examinations. It was this very strength of character that stood by Gandhi when he later went to South Africa.

His sound character proved to be his main strength in the difficult circumstances that prevailed there. It was with the help of this asset of character that Gandhi managed to overcome many seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Not only that, Gandhi also took it upon him-self to impart character education to thousands of almost illiterate Indians in South Africa.

If the main element of Gandhi’s success were to be traced back, then it would become clear that his strong sense of character was the unique asset that he possessed which assisted him during his crises in South Africa as well as later in India, with his unique weapon, ‘Satyagraha’, whose implementation primarily requires lesser academic education but a very strong dosage of character education.

In a particular presentation that was made by Dr. Shall Sinha, he discussed the techniques that were used by Gandhi to teach the value, acquisition and implementation of character education. According to Gandhi, there were four vital elements of character education and these elements also help in academic performance.

One of the most memorable quotes by the Mahatma on education sums up aptly what he felt about the subject: “Education without courage is like a wax statue – beautiful to look at but bound to melt at the first touch of a hot stuff.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

And although he had the largest and strongest following in terms of numbers, Mahatma Gandhi did not consider it his greatest strength, he believed more in the strength of character. The following quote by him sums up his view on the subject: “Strength of numbers is the delight of the timid.” – Mahatma Gandhi.