Hinduism Today Magazine Issues and Articles
Children Come First
Category : July/August 2000

In My Opinion

Children Come First

Friends and work should not overshadow family

Raj Kumar PH. D.



If you see or read about the lives of the world's greatest leaders, poets, scientists, humanitarians and geniuses, you will find that they had very special parents and grandparents. They received lots of love, good care, good training, motivation and good education. When parents have a good relationship, unity and harmony in the house and they devote time and sacrifice everything--including their job--for the sake of their child, they then experience real joy and contentment.

The first three years of child-development are very crucial. So if the mother can stay with her child during these years, then her child will grow naturally and be healthy, without developing fears and other psychological problems. If the parents give more importance to a big income (two paychecks), hire a baby sitter or make some other arrangements to raise their child, then the child may not develop properly and may experience developmental problems. Besides this, if parents do not have a good relationship and are too busy in their work or social life, then the child will definitely be ignored and abused. This makes the child stubborn, irritable, non-compliant, disorganized, insecure, aggressive and hyperactive. The child cannot learn to love others unless he/she receives ample love from parents, family and others. Childhood is the foundation of adulthood. If the parents spend quality time with their children and enjoy watching them grow, the children will feel deep satisfaction in their hearts. There is no substitute for the mother in this world.

Child abuse has become very common in modern society. It occurs when parents divorce and have unstable marriages. It happens with step-children and unwanted children. It also happens when the mother is burnt out due to overwork, lack of sleep or lack of help from others. Parents may also have financial problems and debts, which make them unable to cope with social stresses. They displace their frustrations and anger on the innocent child, sometimes even for no reason.

Imagine a six-foot-tall person beating up a two-foot-tall, innocent and helpless child who cannot defend himself or herself. I would like to ask that parent, how he/she would feel, if six strong people came around you, scared you and beat you up? Would you not feel fear and cry for help? Would you not feel both physical and emotional pain?

Such parents do not understand or realize why the child is demanding something or throwing a tantrum. They just react and punish the child. Of course the child will stop the tantrum when punished, but that is not a permanent solution to a child's behavior. It's only a temporary solution that just suppresses a child's anger. That child will release this anger with aggressive behavior with his peers and others in his school and social environment. Then one day when that child grows up, becomes strong and independent, he or she will rebel against the same parents who punished him/her during childhood. It is the law of nature: each action has a reaction. But parents ignore this fact, and feel, "This is my child. I have the right to discipline or raise my child any way I want. No one has any right in my personal family matters." The fact is that when a mother abuses the child, it means that the mother has not received enough love from her husband and his family. In the same way, if a father abuses his child, it means that he has not received enough love from his parents, wife and others. Or probably the parents were abused by their parents or others during childhood. The beatings are a reflection of their emotional experience, which they are transferring to the child. The ideal parents don't cause pain in their children. When that first child arrives, they truly become a family and begin a new, child-centered life.

Raj Kumar, PH. D., is a child psychologist who lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.