Mindfulness (Mindful parenting included!) has almost become a fashion in our troubled times where fast paced living seems to be hacking at the very roots of a peaceful life. We are mindful about eating, working, socialising and so on. But, it is the need of the hour to be mindful about an activity that actually sets the stage for our future as a civilisation- parenting. But Mindful parenting is more than your typical new age lifestyle term, as this book from Harper Collins goes on to show. The Children of Tomorrow (A monk’s guide to mindful parenting) by Om Swami presents age-old wisdom crystallised in a format palatable for modern parents.
The chapters in the book stress on the need for parents to be mindful and collaborative with each other on raising their children. Jokes and hilarious cartoons between the chapters add an element of humour. The last chapter gives a ready reconer of tips that parents must bear on mind.
I think this book is, in a sense, a manna for modern parents. Belonging to the current generation of parents with young kids, I can’t help but acknowledge the unique challenges that our lot faces – we may have lesser kids and more resources than our own parents did, but we still grapple with many questions and parenting issues. We have google at our fingertips but sometimes can’t really know what information to choose! We are individuals with multiple hopes and dreams, a generation that is individualistic and high achieving, we are made of yummy-mummies and ever growing young dads, we juggle our schedules and that of our kids with finesse (and the latest apps and a team of staff). But still, we are, at the end of this all, lacking something substantial and something deep!
The Children of Tomorrow gives us nothing of that circus of management. It talks about building trust in your children, being honest with them, not ever shaming them, how sometimes the best advice is no advice, the importance of time, building joy in the relationship and many simple things that have mysteriously evaporated in the clutter of our lives today.
The thoughts that Om Swami presents have their roots in his experiences of interacting with young children, young adults and parents at different parenting stages. As an impartial observer he looks at their problems and the potential suggestions on what can help them. I think most of these thoughts are applicable to all relationships and not only the parent-child one.
I particularly liked the chapter on building an identity capital. Just like one needs financial capital to get through uncertain times in life, or maybe just as a buffer, building an identity capital is crucial for children to cruise through life. This may be a buffer against phases of identity crisis that seemingly impacts a variety of age groups today, including parents themselves !
As the book progresses, I notice that a lot of the lessons are targeted at self-improvement for parents. And then it dawns- changing your child for the better or bringing them up in the right manner actually begins with the parent. One of the main lessons that all parenting books must amplify, and that this one clearly does, is that the first step to great parenting is by setting an example ! Mindful parenting simply could well translate into mindful living yourself. But more than anything else, The Children of Tomorrow (A monk’s guide to mindful parenting) by Om Swami shows that “Good families begin with great parenting,”.