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The parents play a vital role in the lives of their children. They help them construct their inner world of values, imagination, love, hope, forgiveness and gentleness. They give them the foundations of self-identity, self-direction, motivation and purpose and it is on these that the children build their lives.

The parents strive to create wholeness and wellbeing in their children. What are regarded as normal parenting practises include values clarification, training and implementation. The parental role includes a sense of moral responsibility and commitment to teach the children practical skills which will lead to happy and fulfilling lives. The parents are naturally placed in an advantageous position to fulfil this function because the parent-child relationship is a very special bond which allows the parents much influence over their children. It is accepted that the parents are their child's role models, mentors, friends, counsellors, guides, teachers as well as carers at least in early and middle childhood. If the relationship is close then the parents remain influential throughout the lives of their children.

However, although our biological relationship and close physical proximity gives us opportunities to influence our children in positive ways, it does not automatically follow that we are always aware or capable of healthful expressions of love. It is our moment to moment behaviour which influences and moulds the lives of our children but we do not always bear this in mind. Indeed much of our parenting is unconscious.

The choices we make, most of our beliefs and values, the way we express ourselves, the pattern of relationship we establish are all based on our own childhood experiences. In any given situation we automatically fall back on our own experience of childhood and hope that what was good enough for us when we were children is good enough for our children now. But the world is no longer the same world in which we grew up and our parenting style, if based entirely on our own childhood experience, may be hopelessly inadequate to meet with the current problems that face our children.

This means that we have to consciously evaluate ourselves as parents. Will our parenting result in all that we hope for our children? There is a moral dimension to parenting since it has now been shown that the majority of parents are not following the most enabling practices. In fact we do not meet with all our moral obligations by directing our total parenting energies to the physical welfare and well being of our children. These are certain goals that the parents have to achieve for themselves and these are not attained fully through raising a family of healthy members who are all educationally and socially competent. These certainly are the primary worldly goals. However, Baba takes parenting beyond these worldly goals. He regards parenthood as a staging post in our own journey to self-fulfilment. All human beings have to realise their own human destiny. The circumstances that we find ourselves in are the means of that realisation.

Thus parenthood is a period in our lives that provides us with its own opportunities towards our own realisation. Parenthood carries certain responsibilities and the manner in which these are discharged contributes to growth in consciousness that decides our ultimate destiny both as parents and as individuals. The responsibilities therefore are both personal towards ourselves and also towards the members of our family. Regarding responsibilities to ourselves, Baba has said: family life provides opportunities for us to cultivate justice and truth and through these to enrich our inner life.
A Householder has to uphold the ideals of justice and truth and promote them by his actions. He must feel the innate majesty of mankind and live in accordance with that high status.

Regarding responsibilities to others in the family He has said:

Heads of the family have to adhere to the schedule of rites and worship prescribed for them. They have to supervise the behaviour and conduct of all members of the household; they have also to equip their sons and daughters with the processes by which they can have mental peace and equanimity under all conditions.

Thus there are dual goals in our parenting practise, one for ourselves and the second for our children. But the state of parenthood is not a goal in itself. Baba has said:

You do not settle down on a step, or stay on a rung or build a home on a bridge. Move on, climb ahead, cross over towards the Goal of God.

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 © Institute of Sathya Sai Education, Australia. This site last updated 10 October 2008