Life has become so transactional these days.
Wake up. Get kids ready. Send them off to school. Go to work. Attend client meetings. Respond to deadlines. Pick kids up. Run them to afterschool activities like swimming lessons, kung fu, music, etc. Prepare dinner while helping them with their projects/homework. Put them to bed. Answer emails and phone calls when able. On weekends, take them to their games and Khalsa School. Everything has a deadline and life has become a competition. The drive is to outperform the competition rather than to develop the best with us.
This rat race attitude is well reflected in our own behavior. We will take jobs which will leave minimal time for family in order to make more money. And then we wonder why kids do not listen or why the relationship with spouse suffers. You may make more money and even provide the best clothing, activities, etc. for you children, but remember NO ONE can be a parent other than YOU. Children need your time and attention for the best parenting you signed up for. Same is true for your spouse! S/He may appreciate your gifts and hard work, but your time and attention is of the utmost importance. This reaffirms commitment and is a lifelong investment.
But don’t forget yourself! Providing for the family and others is important, but self-development is vital. If you continue to invest in yourself for further development, you will see a change in your attitude and ultimately behavior. Your family and friends will notice this change and it might also INSPIRE them to make self-development a priority in their lives.
The drive to achieve the best within us is illustrated by the integration of the Divine Virtues as described in the “Mool Mantr” (root-verse), the opening verse of the Sikh scriptural cannon (Guru Granth Sahib) into our lifestyle. These virtues include: 1Force, Identified by Truth, Pervasive Creator, Fearless, Without Enmity, Timeless Being, Unborn, Self-Illuminated, and Realized by Perfection’s Grace. When operating through these virtues, no longer will you scold your child or compare him/her to another who got 100% on an exam. On the contrary, you will treasure the experience of working with your child. Your child certainly will appreciate and remember those beautiful moments and love you even more.
If you want your children to have a relationship with the Divine, illustrate it in your behavior. Make family time for prayers and selfless service as you do for swimming lessons and dinners. Often, I hear that children are too busy with their studies for Gurmat Education. Really? They will find resources to develop their careers quite easily, but finding time and resources for instilling Gurmat principles in their lifestyle will be very difficult if not introduced during childhood. If you want your children to respect their parents, start respecting yours. If you want them to aspire towards excellence, you know what to do. Your children will follow your behavior, not your lectures to them. Take time and discuss with them whatever they want, even the controversial issues. This builds trusts and creates open communication.
Now, do you really need that job which will deprive you of these experiences?
Pritpal Singh serves on SikhRI’s Board of Directors. He is a physician executive with Cigna and lives in Dallas with his family