I really need some guidance on how to raise children. How do I deal with my two kids, one and three years old, when they don’t listen or do as they’re told? I think this is a problem, new for our generation as older people used corporal punishment, or maybe had more of an authoritarian position? And now being 36, I want to be more loving and closer with my kids. But I end up yelling at them instead when they don’t listen – I guess I feel powerless as I don’t have the corporal punishment or that leader position – I have nothing to back my word up. I wouldn’t send them to bed without food, I wouldn’t do anything to them that I feel would be a misuse of power, so how do I then make them feel like I’m their leader? I lose my temper with them, yell because I feel powerless or like other people expect me to “raise them” more strictly, then I feel really bad for losing my temper. I feel sick with disappointment in my parenting – I do a lot of good things but I also want a greater meaning for them. I’m not living in a Krishna conscious place, just in a regular neighborhood and my husband is not a devotee. I don’t have a guru either, but I once had a guru, though I was only 18 then and I never got that far.
Mahatma Das: I personally find anger to be an ineffective means of communication and example to be the prime means of communication. Most children “listen” more to what parents do than what they say. Anger often arises from unrealistic expectations for your children. Each child is unique and as parents we need to find what makes them tick, what inspires them, and what will greet the deepest bonds between us. When Srila Prabhupada talks about his father and mother, he speaks mostly of their deep affection for him. He also talks about being spoiled. He had great love for them because of their great love for him. If you discipline your children with regular outbursts of anger, you teach them a lesson: anger is a means for dealing with problems. And this is how they will deal with problems. You will also see that when they deal with younger siblings, or younger people, they will tend to use anger because it was used on them. Talking is a better form of communication than yelling, don’t you agree? I believe the use of anger is a parental weakness, perhaps stepping from the parents own issues, or simply the parents lacking of good parenting skills. My advice to you is that first, you don’t have to discipline every little thing. If you use anger, use it sparingly on the big things, the really important things. They will then take you more serious.