The last three months of lockdowns across the world have, among other things, put the spotlight on parenting. With children and parents in continuous and close confinement, both have been tearing their hair out in frustration. The challenge of keeping children ‘occupied’; the careful negotiation of time and space that respects personal and physical boundaries; the sharing of responsibilities amidst the constantly looming uncertainty of when and where the virus could strike, has put everyone on tenterhooks.
This has led to a proliferation of Advice Columns. From counsellors to therapists, psychologists to agony aunts, there seems to be an overdose on ‘good parenting’ tips. In our zeal to do the best for our children we sometimes tend to forget the most basic and simple guidelines that are based on the fundamental premise of mutual respect.
These were offered almost a hundred years ago by Gijubhai Badheka one of the pioneers of the Montessori system of education in India, lifelong advocate of children and their rights, and creator of some of the best loved and popular children’s literature in Gujarati. Gijubhai believed that every child has its own distinct personality. We as adults need to recognise and respect this. He urged parents to convert to the faith of trust, respect, freedom and love for children. Starting with these five fundamental tenets.
If You Really Want To
If you would like to do just one thing for children…
What could you do?
Do not hit children.
If you would like to do two things; what could you do?
Do not scold children
Do not insult them.
If you would like to do three things; what could you do?
Do not scare children
Do not bribe them to do something
Do not overindulge them.
If you would like to do four things for children; what would these be?
Do not preach to children
Do not blow hot and cold
Do not keep finding fault
Do not exercise authority all the time.
If you are keen to do five things; what will you do?
Do not do whatever the child demands; teach it to do for itself.
Let the child do what it desires to do.
Do not take a child’s work lightly.
Do not interfere into a child’s work.
Do not take away a child’s work.
In a world that has changed dramatically in the last 100 years, these timeless tenets remain as, if not more, true today.
Gijubhai Badheka passed away on 23 June in 1939, at the early age of 54 years leaving behind a prodigious legacy of writing for children, parents and teachers.
Gijubhai was my grandfather. In my small way, I try to carry forward his legacy by sharing and translating his works from the original Gujarati into English.