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Parental Closeness

Parents are your first guru. Parental closeness, meaning children's closeness with their parents, needs to be developed through hugging and verbalizing "I love you." Distance develops from a threatening atmosphere where the children don't feel comfortable telling their parents everything. Each secret they keep creates more distance. The ideal is for them to be so comfortable, so loved, that they tell their parents everything and don't fear the consequences.

Unedited Transcript:

Working on the talk, 'Parents are the first Guru', it is coming along. One of the points, is called 'Parental Closeness'. I thought I would share that. Parental closeness in this sense, means the children being close to the parents.

Parental closeness is when children reach adulthood. They choose to spend time with the parents because they really enjoy being with them. A strong bond of love and understanding exists. This is epitomized in the instances when the adult daughter considers her mother to be her best friend or the adult son considers the father as his best friend. Unfortunately, the result of current parenting techniques is quite often the opposite. We know of many instances of when the boy reaches adulthood, he moved out of the home and maintained as little contact with his father as possible.

How then is parental closeness developed? It is through expressing our love through actions and words. Interesting story here on Gurudeva, our family of monks who were raised by Gurudeva were often hugged by Him. Even now, some monks have told me that the first thing Gurudeva does when He meets them in the inner worlds is to give them a big hug. He really does. He give you a big hug. In addition to hugging, the three magic words need to be verbalized often. What are the three magic words? I love you.

So the point here is, particularly in Asia, there is not enough expression of love. It is not enough just to say to yourself, "I love my kids." You actually have to express it and these are just two suggestions for verbalizing, 'I love you'. It is definitely important. Otherwise, closeness does not necessarily develop.

Closeness develops by disciplining a child's misbehavior with positive discipline methods, such as, 'time out' and appropriate, natural, logical consequences, use of reason without blame and shame. Distance is produced by the use of physical violence, anger, irrational punishments and blame-and-shame. Closeness happens when quality time is spent together in activities that all members of the family enjoy. It is developed from the father binding with his sons and the mother binding with her daughters through developing common interests in hobbies or games and working on them together.

Closeness is nurtured when parents create a non-threatening atmosphere of love in their home in which their children feel free to tell them everything they have done, without fear of the consequences. Distance develops from the existence of a threatening atmosphere in which children keep secrets, each additional secret adding to the distance between the child and the parents. That is a point Gurudeva makes so beautifully in the chapter on 'Family Togetherness' in 'Living with Siva'.

How many homes are like that, where the children are so secure that they will tell their parents everything they did without fear? That is the goal that Gurudeva gives in the chapter. The home is so filled with love, so non-threatening that no matter what the child did wrong, eventually the child feels okay about telling the parents. Zero secrets.What a wonderful ideal!

As Gurudeva points out in the chapter, each secret creates a greater distance. Five secrets this year, ten secrets five years later, twenty secrets when they are an adult. These secrets, things they never told their parents end up causing a distance between the children and the parents. Why are there secrets? Because the children felt if they told, boy, they would really get it! "No way am I going to tell my parents that. That will be the end of me!"

You can see how it all relates to the sense of love and what kind of discipline is used. It needs to be a very gentle, appropriate discipline and a real sense of trust and love, in order for 'zero secrets' to result when the children reach adulthood.