Parents are generous people who sacrifice personal goals and pleasures in favor of caring for their children. Good parents provide resources that their children need in a strategic and judicious manner so their children grow into self-reliant adults with responsibilities, careers and incomes. Parents can guide their children by feeding them the correct food and by selecting the best community, the best peer group and the best schools they can identify and afford. An enlightened society would allocate generous resources to achieving excellence in the nurturing and education of children above and beyond the care provided by parents.
Human narcissism begins with birth and infants are relentless in their demands. They cry and scream when they are dissatisfied and each infant has no doubt that he or she is the center of the universe. A good parent supports this innate narcissism to build basic warmth and confidence in the child. As the child matures, the excellent parent guides him or her toward a more social and tolerant attitude towards others. The excellent parent does not threaten or hit a child; conflict is resolved by negotiation, humor and affection. An excellent parent encourages social interaction with other children but is watchful and discriminating about the company the child keeps.
The transformation of narcissistic preoccupation of the young child into a more social and caring older child is critical to the future ability of the child to live a successful and happy life as an adult. An excellent parent and good teachers know that error is inevitable and all learning involves mistakes. There is a common tendency to punish mistakes and ignore successes. A better strategy is to correct mistakes but not punish and reward good behavior, work and good outcomes.
An excellent parent overrides the tendency to criticize, blame and punish and with patience and practice, cultivates the opposite strategy. You have to pay attention and reward success while quietly noting failures. The excellent parent thinks in terms of protecting the child from danger and seeks remedial strategies such as offering more opportunity to practice skills that are not well-developed and guidance towards more successful strategies of interaction with the world.
A good guru realizes that he or she cannot change the deep determinants of karma in a child, but can nourish the good and promising qualities in each individual and minimize or ignore the less desirable. The opportunity for a positive parent's role in child development is greatest in the first five years and diminishes thereafter. Teachers, adult relatives and other children play an increasing role in child development and peer influence dominates adolescent development. Good parents, however, continue to play important roles at all stages of development.
Good parents must be flexible and adaptive because their role and duties keep changing. Mothers are busy providing all the logistical support their young children require and express their hopes and aspirations by enrolling their children in a succession of courses, clubs and sports activities. Emphasis on these extracurricular activities can penalize both parent and child. Parents risk becoming underpaid chauffeurs and servants to indulged children who fail to become friendly and affectionate partners in creating and maintaining a nurturing home.
The accomplishments of children need to be placed in a perspective of what ultimately makes life enjoyable and fulfilling. Children who are preoccupied with their own recreation and structured activities may lose the opportunity to enjoy their own playful creativity and just hanging out with family and friends. They may not learn to care for themselves and others in a peaceful, orderly home environment.