Parenting: how to nurture moral values in your child


In order to have a moral compass in life as devotees — especially as women guiding our children — we need to follow moral values. What are the moral values, the universal spiritual moral values that never change? What does our Guru say about it? Thank you. Jai Guru!

—Mia Bretz, USA


Dear Mia,

Your inquiry is dear to my heart because I see so many young parents seemingly unaware of the universal values and roles that their children so desperately need to learn.

Many parents seem to want to be their child’s best friend. But can a parent of a child who is not yet an adult ever be a best friend? Isn’t the role of a parent to guide, inspire, and discipline the young person towards attitudes and behavior that will serve that soul for life? And, what are those values and attitudes:

1. Calmness

2. Listening

3. Respect given and received

4. Joy

5. Creativity, imagination and curiosity

6. Kindness and sensitivity to others: human, animal and nature

7. Self-control: delayed gratification for the greater reward of moral vigor

8. Good habits of play, rest, study, health and diet.

9. Devotion to God and the saints, and respect given to wise teachers, to elders, to ancestors, to nature

No doubt there are others. But what do we see, instead, around us? Spoiled children who are disrespectful and demanding and unkind to others. Why is this? Because parents do not uphold these universal values and do not discipline when necessary (not with anger but with virtue). We have the term “helicopter parents” who protect and defend their children as always in the right and always needing protection from danger. This develops fearful and demanding children, entitled. Instead, as appropriate to age and ability, children should be challenged to be strong and courageous.

In Swami Kriyananda’s landmark text (J. Donald Walters: Education for Life) or Susan Dermond’s book (Calm and Compassionate Children), you’ll find tools to help intuit the qualities of your child that should be nurtured and other attributes needing to be uplifted. The younger years are more body-oriented; middle years, feeling (inspired by play, imagination, and stories of heroes and saints); teen years focused on developing will power, skills, prowess and mental disciplines; young adult years probing the greater mysteries and purpose of life.

Some children are naturally calm, wise and kind; others, motivated by self-interest; and some by reward or punishment. These distinctions apply also to particular areas of daily life such that a child may be needing strong encouragement to a healthy diet but is naturally inventive, curious, or thoughtful of the needs of others.

Do find these books I have mentioned. I think you will find them helpful.

Blessings to you!
Nayaswami Hriman

Seattle WA USA