A manifesto on parenting and community building in challenging modern times

New Delhi, December 20: In recent news, a 25 years old girl’s father tried to persuade her to break up as he didn’t feel his daughter was safe with her boyfriend. In return, she told him – “I am a 25-year-old girl, and I have the right to take my own decisions. I am going for a live-in relationship with AFB, so from now do not consider me your daughter.”

After a year, the most unfortunate event took place as she was brutally killed by her boyfriend.

Instead of what happened, I was searching for why it happened in the first place. It kept me thinking over and over again why this happened. Why she didn’t listen to her parents? Why there is so much disconnect between parents and children?

Can we rebuild our home, our relationships, and our community to stay together and thrive?

It is not only important to rebuild the family culture but also the community.

Based on this, I outlined my talk on three elements – connecting parents, reconnecting grandparents, and rebuilding our community.

The value of connecting parents:

In the modern era or since the last thirty years, there is a strong need to go out and prove ‘self-worth’; it has become so important that everyone is sacrificing everything, including their real self-worth and the importance of family. All this is to enjoy freedom and equality. Surprisingly, this need for freedom is not limited to young generations but everyone, including sons, daughters, daughters-in-law, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts etc.,

How much individual freedom is worth it when families when are drowning, support systems are vanishing, and communities are getting dismantled – we need to think.

Even some men prefer a ‘smart wife’ over homemakers. We all must know what our child is reading or check his/her knowledge and beliefs occasionally to understand if he has the same values that we want to pass on.

Similarly, we need to understand the value of hard work involved in parenting as well as the value of grand parenting. Additionally, the value of community parenting. Will talk about it later. We need to invest lots of time in building trustworthy relationships with children.

Reconnecting Grandparents 

I am not against working with both parents as it may be necessary to survive, where a couple has no time to invest in parenting and can opt to stay with their parents or at least close to their parent’s home. They underestimate that real parenting is tough; even stay-at-home mothers feel exhausted by babies with their constant attention during the first two years.

Grandparents help build an emotional and traditional base for the child due to their tender connection and availability to deal with the child emotionally, wisely, and patiently.

Above all is done through constant correcting, updating, teaching and reading and storytelling. The grandparents are thoughts/beliefs checkers of your child and correct them constantly. Just like you see, word has a grammar and spelling checker.

This support system earlier consisted of grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins etc., where we could share something that we couldn’t with our parents. Grandparents and elderly would teach the traditional values, customs, religious beliefs, kindness, and belongingness to the family, the value of acceptance of diverse views within the family and the power of forgiveness. All these worked as a glue to keep the family together and also helped in preserving and passing on the rich traditions, knowledge and values to the next generation.

So, there are three Ts of parenting/grand parenting – Time, Teaching, and Tradition. While you are doing so, remember to follow them first, as children observe what we do. So, children will observe and respect this integrity.

Consistent in belief and value system

Our primary values and belief systems come from Ramayan and Mahabharat.

How we did it effectively, we built a psychological shield around our daily relationships.

In Indian society, we have a custom of not calling our elderly by their first name – chacha/mama, bhaiya, didi, jeth ji, mata ji, pita ji…. such is a psychological and scientific way of managing relationships effectively because it tunes your mind to respect and communicate accordingly.

Parenthood is a blessing, and give your best (always); let God take care of the rest.

If a family survives, the community will survive, and ultimately society will survive. Today, Hindus or Sanatanis are nuclear in terms of the community. And we need to learn –

Rebuilding Community –

Unlike Christians, Sikhs, Muslims etc., Hindus do not have Community support. The most illustrious example in Hong Kong is Khalsa Saheb, who rebuilt a magnificent Gurdwara with donations from devotees.

Hindus have no fixed time or place to meet and greet or worship and interact to build a support system within the community. This is because we have been disconnected from the temples, teachings and traditions that taught us religion, values and beliefs.

We have not paid attention to building community centers, and the most important community center is a temple.

Donate at least 10% of your income to your community, primarily to the temple

Participate in your Temple activities and offer Seva as much as you can with selflessness and love in your heart.

Additionally, it can also organize get-togethers to teach ancient knowledge such as Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas and Upanishads and encourage devotees to adapt the learning to real life. We must involve our kids from a young age, so they adapt to the environment, educate themselves and evolve their thinking around this. It would help them develop a peer-to-peer connection and confidence, both socially and emotionally.

Lastly, my take on this is this problem of parenting and building society is only possible when we bring back the temple system where communities are built around a spiritual atmosphere and build a social connection among families that grow on emotional, economic, educational, spiritually and support for each member of the family as a friend or mentor within the circle.

Disclaimer: The Views are expressed by Ms. Sandhya Jane, who is an Indian writer, speaker, Business coach & entrepreneur. She is best known for her mentorship in the areas of operations management, business transformation, information technology, and green technology. Adding to this, she is a phenomenal coach for young parents and children with a deep understanding of the Vedas.

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