Happy Diwali also for our Children

Happy Diwali to all of you!

The Ashram celebrated this Diwali again, not only with lots of lights but with the school children! Guests and friends had brought clothes throughout the year and we used the occasion to distribute them to everyone who came. It was lovely to see the kids happy about their new clothes which they would wear to the celebrations!

We wish you all a beautiful time as well!

Much love!

Please read if the Aim of your Life is working to save Money for your Offspring! – 3 Oct 16

I yesterday wrote that you should enjoy your work, as it takes a big part of your day. At the same time I mentioned that a lot of people could also cut down on work and work for just a little less money. They could really be happier in their daily lives. And this is something I would recommend to a lot of my Indian countrymen: work less and enjoy life more instead of working and trying to save everything for your offspring!

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I also save money and of course I also think about my daughter and her future. I know a lot of people however who forget that life is about joy and spending time together, too, not only about working and saving and saving and working!

You have managed to secure your own living and you are making money. Now you are worrying about your children. You have supported them while growing up and you are still continuing this support. You work longer than you would need to so that you get extra money.

Have you ever thought that it might be more important for your children to have you there in person, to be with you, have you as an example, a living and real person and not just someone their mother tells them about? Or whoever takes care of them – it is not only men earning money after all!

Finally, once you have taken care that your kids can go to a school and learn for their own education, don’t you think they will manage further on their own? That they should enjoy living their lives with every challenge that is included? You have made sure that they are able to take care of themselves – now let them put this into practice!

Really, I don’t say you should let your children down or never support them financially. You should however not forget living your own life or bury yourself in work so that whatever they know of you is that you always worked a lot!

I am sure your children will appreciate it!

Lies das, wenn es das Ziel deines Lebens ist, Geld für deine Kinder zu sparen! – 3 Okt 16

Gestern habe ich geschrieben, dass man seine Arbeit genießen sollte, da sie einen großen Teil seines Tages einnimmt. Gleichzeitig habe ich erwähnt, dass viele Leute auch etwas weniger arbeiten und etwas weniger Geld verdienen könnten. Sie könnten in ihrem täglichen Leben wirklich glücklicher sein. Und das ist etwas, was ich vielen meiner indischen Landsleute empfehlen würde: arbeitet weniger und genießt das Leben mehr, anstatt zu arbeiten und alles für eure Nachkommen zu sparen!

Oh, versteht mich nicht falsch, ich spare auch Geld und natürlich denke ich da auch an meine Tochter und ihre Zukunft. Ich kenne jedoch viele Menschen, die vergessen, dass es im Leben auch um Freude und die gemeinsame Zeit geht, nicht nur darum, zu arbeiten und zu sparen und zu sparen und zu arbeiten!

Du hast es geschafft, deinen eigenen Lebensunterhalt zu sichern und du verdienst Geld. Jetzt sorgst du dich um deine Kinder. Du hast sie unterstützt, als sie aufwuchsen und du hilfst ihnen auch immer noch. Du arbeitest länger als du müsstest, so dass du extra Geld bekommst.

Hast du jemals darüber nachgedacht, dass es für deine Kinder vielleicht wichtiger ist, dich persönlich da zu haben, als Beispiel, als lebende und echte Person und nicht nur jemand, von dem ihnen ihre Mutter erzählt? Oder wer auch immer sich um sie kümmert – schließlich sind es nicht nur die Männer, die das Geld verdienen!

Schließlich, wenn du sichergestellt hast, dass deine Kinder zur Schule gehen können und sich bilden, meinst du nicht, dass sie dann selbst ganz gut weiterkommen? Dass sie ihre Freude daran haben sollten, ihr Leben zu leben mit jeder Herausforderung, die dazu gehört? Du hast sichergestellt, dass sie auf sich selbst achten können – nun lass es sie auch ins Praktische umsetzen!

Wirklich, ich sage nicht, dass du deine Kinder enttäuschen solltest oder sie nie finanziell unterstützen solltest. Du solltest jedoch nicht vergessen, dein eigenes Leben zu leben und dich nicht in deine Arbeit vergraben, so dass alles, was sie von dir wissen ist, dass du immer viel gearbeitet hast!

Deine Kinder werden es dir danken!

Don’t steal your Children’s Childhood! – 30 Sep 16

I yesterday wrote a little about the way parents try to influence their children to do what they want – obviously because they only want the best for them! There are instances however when this kind of behavior goes too far. You can see that in children talent shows a lot and you can see it in beauty pageants. When children are pressurized to practice and perform. When they have to spend hours in a day rehearsing and preparing for such an event. Or when they lose and break down crying.

I believe this kind of issues start when parents want their children to fulfill their own dreams. When they want their children to go places they always wanted to go but never could. They dream of fame and being known, of prices and recognition – and want to achieve this through their children!

A child would never, by himself, spend four or five hours rehearsing one and the same thing every day so that it gets perfect! These little girls whom you train to be princesses with doll-like appearance and behavior, would just like to play in the dirt sometimes, too! They want to get their hands full of paint and they want to climb on trees.

Instead, they learn a behavior which is completely unnatural for them and they have to train and train and train. They lose a part of their childhood, a certain innocence and freedom which only children have, only those who are little and don’t have any such burden yet! But you put that burden on them!

I once saw a video clip in which participants in a girls’ beauty pageant answered the question what they would like to do if they had a free day. ‘Go to the playground’ and ‘Just watch TV and play’ were followed by ‘I want to eat without having to stop!’ I felt these girls were not only stopped from playing like kids should but also already forced to keep a diet so that they fit certain beauty standards!

It is this kind of situations when I wonder how sick our society has become! That this is not only acceptable but that people wish for this. That parents don’t see how this ruins their children’s childhood!

No, again, I will not go for fame or money – but for fun and happiness! Don’t do this to your children! Let them play and be kids!

Klau deinen Kindern nicht die Kindheit! – 30 Sep 16

Gestern habe ich ein wenig darüber geschrieben, wie Eltern versuchen, ihre Kinder dazu bringen zu tun, was sie wollen – natürlich weil sie nur das Beste für sie wollen! Es gibt jedoch Augenblicke, in denen diese Art von Verhalten zu weit geht. Das sieht man oft in Talentshows für Kinder und auch in Schönheitswettbewerben. Wenn Kinder dazu gedrängt werden, zu üben und Leistung zu erbringen. Wenn sie Stunden mit dem Üben und der Vorbereitung auf eine solche Veranstaltung verbringen. Oder wenn sie verlieren und dann weinend zusammenbrechen.

Ich glaube diese Art von Problemen beginnen, wenn Eltern wollen, dass Kinder ihre eigenen Träume leben. Wenn sie wollen, dass ihre Kinder dorthin kommen, wo sie immer sein wollten, was sie jedoch nie geschafft haben. Sie träumen von Ruhm und davon, bekannt zu sein, von Preisen und Anerkennung – und sie wollen das durch ihre Kinder erreichen!

Ein Kind würde nie selbst jeden Tag vier oder fünf Stunden damit verbringen, ein und das Gleiche zu üben, um es zu perfektionieren! Diese kleinen Mädchen, die ihr zu Prinzessinnen mit puppenhaftem Aussehen und Verhalten macht, würden auch gerne manchmal einfach im Dreck spielen! Sie wollen ihre Hände voller Farbe bekommen und würden gerne auf Bäume klettern.

Stattdessen lernen sie ein Verhalten, das für sie komplett unnatürlich ist und sie müssen trainieren und trainieren und trainieren. Sie verlieren einen Teil ihrer Kindheit, eine gewisse Unschuld und eine Freiheit, die nur Kinder haben, nur diejenigen, die noch klein sind und keine solche Last tragen! Doch du bürdest ihnen das auf!

Ich habe einmal ein Video-Clip gesehen, in denen Teilnehmerinnen eines Schönheitswettbewerbs für Mädchen die Frage beantworteten, was sie tun würden, wenn sie einen freien Tag hätten. Auf die Antworten ‚Auf den Spielplatz gehen‘ und ‚Nur fernsehen und spielen‘ folgte ‚Ich will Essen, ohne aufhören zu müssen!‘ Ich hatte das Gefühl, dass diese Mädchen nicht nur davon abgehalten wurden, wie Kinder zu spielen, sondern auch bereits dazu gezwungen werden, eine Diät zu halten, so dass sie gewissen Schönheitsidealen entsprechen können!

Es ist diese Art von Situationen, in denen ich mich frage, wie krank unsere Gesellschaft eigentlich ist! Dass das nicht nur akzeptabel ist, sondern dass die Menschen sich das sogar wünschen. Dass Eltern nicht sehen, wie das die Kindheit ihrer Kindheit ruiniert!

Nein, ich strebe nicht nach Ruhm oder Geld – sondern nach Freude und Glück! Tue das deinen Kindern nicht an! Lass sie spielen und Kinder sein!

Let your Children make their own Mistakes – it helps them develop their potential! – 29 Sep 16

I mentioned yesterday that all parents want the best for their child. It is natural and normal to think in this way. There is however a certain struggle, too: a lot of parents keep their children too safe in the belief only they know what will be best for their child. Sometimes they forget that you have to make mistakes to find out what you want and that kids may go another way than they think!

This is a phenomenon which I have seen in many different countries and cultures, which is why I can confidently say that it is a parental issue. We all act according to our own experiences. That is simply normal. If we have faced difficulties in life, we try to prevent our children from getting into those same situations. We want to share our experience so that they have benefit from it.

That is the reason why for example Indian parents want their children to become doctors and engineers: they see in their surrounding that people with these jobs had the most success. This is why parents in the west take their children to dancing and singing competitions and push them to practice more and more – because they see how much fame and success those have who start early and work hard.

It is fully normal and of course also right to teach your children from your experiences. What we have to take care of however is one simple thing: we still have to give our children the freedom to develop their own wishes and let them explore who they want to be and what they want to do.

In this process, every child will make his own mistakes. It is natural and even necessary. Children who grow up in a bubble of security, whose parents protect them from each and every mistake, will not learn that in life there are situations of disappointment and also failure. You will not always be safe of mistakes, pain and negative experiences! This all is a part of creating your personality, finding out what you want and need.

At the same time, you should not push your children to do something they would not want to do just because you think it is what is good. It may be good for you but not for your children! It may just be the wrong thing for them or absolutely nothing that they would be happy with!

With these words I reach the point which I believe we really need to focus on: the happiness of our children. Let them do mistakes while guiding them gently, with love and in a way that they know they are free to do what they wish while you are providing the support of your experience! Let them find their own happiness, even if it goes against what you think would have been the best for them.

Should it go wrong at some point, be there for them. Just a shoulder, a helping hand. Without judgement or a ‘told-you-so’ attitude. I know, you will say ‘easier said than done’ and you are right, my daughter is only four-and-a-half years old but you know, I have every intention to keep it this way and know that I will be successful with this, too.

Lass deine Kinder ihre eigenen Fehler machen – es hilft ihnen, ihr Potential zu entwickeln! – 29 Sep 16

Ich habe gestern erwähnt, dass alle Eltern das Beste für ihr Kind wollen. Es ist ganz natürlich und normal, so zu denken. Es gibt jedoch auch einen gewissen Zwiespalt: viele Eltern behüten ihre Kinder zu sehr, in dem Glauben nur sie wüssten, was für ihr Kind am Besten ist. Manchmal vergessen sie, dass man seine eigenen Fehler machen muss, um herauszufinden, was man machen will und dass Kinder vielleicht einen anderen Weg gehen, als man denkt!

Das ist ein Phänomen, das ich schon in vielen verschiedenen Ländern und Kulturen gesehen habe, weshalb ich zuversichtlich sagen kann, dass es ein Thema von Eltern ist. Wir alle handeln nach unseren eigenen Erfahrungen. Das ist einfach nur normal. Wenn wir im Leben Schwierigkeiten hatten, versuchen wir, unsere Kinder davon abzuhalten, in die gleichen Situationen zu kommen. Wir wollen unsere Erfahrungen Teilen, so dass sie daraus Nutzen ziehen können.

Das ist der Grund, warum zum Beispiel indische Eltern wollen, dass ihre Kinder Ärzte und Ingenieure werden: sie sehen in ihrer Umgebung, dass Menschen mit dieser Arbeit den größten Erfolg haben. Deshalb bringen Eltern im Westen ihre Kinder zu Gesangs- und Tanz-Wettbewerben und bringen sie dazu, immer noch mehr und mehr zu üben – weil sie sehen, wie viel Ruhm und Erfolg diejenigen haben, die früh begonnen und hart gearbeitet haben.

Es ist völlig normal und natürlich auch richtig, seinen Kindern von seiner Erfahrung zu berichten und demnach Dinge beizubringen. Worauf wir jedoch achten müssen ist eines: wir müssen unseren Kindern trotzdem die Freiheit geben, ihre eigenen Wünsche zu entwickeln und sie erforschen zu lassen, wer sie sein wollen und was sie tun möchten.

Auf diesem Weg macht jedes Kind seine eigenen Fehler. Das ist natürlich und sogar notwendig. Kinder, die in einer Blase der Sicherheit aufwachsen, deren Eltern sie vor jedem Fehler bewahren, lernen nicht, dass es im Leben Situationen der Enttäuschung und auch des Misserfolges gibt. Man kann sich nicht immer vor Fehlern, Schmerzen und negativen Erfahrungen bewahren! Das ist alles Teil der Persönlichkeitsfindung, herauszufinden, was man will und braucht.

Gleichzeitig sollte man seine Kinder nicht mit Druck dazu bringen, etwas zu tun, was sie nicht tun wollen, nur weil du meinst, dass das das einzig Gute ist. Das mag für dich gut sein, aber nicht für deine Kinder! Für sie mag es das Falsche sein oder absolut nichts, womit sie glücklich wären!

Mit diesen Worten komme ich an den Punkt, auf den wir uns meiner Meinung nach wirklich konzentrieren müssen: das Glück unserer Kinder. Lass sie Fehler machen, während du sie sanft leitest, mit Liebe und auf eine Weise, dass sie wissen, dass sie frei das tun können, was sie wollen, während du sie mit deiner Erfahrung unterstützt! Lass sie ihr eigenes Glück finden, selbst wenn es gegen das geht, was du für sie für das Beste gehalten hättest.

Sollte irgendwann etwas schief laufen, sei für sie da. Einfach eine Schulter, eine helfende Hand. Ohne zu urteilen oder eine ‚ich-hab’s-dir-doch-gesagt‘-Einstellung. Ich weiß, ihr könnt jetzt sagen, das ist einfach gesagt als getan und ja, meine Tochter ist erst viereinhalb Jahre alt, aber wisst ihr, ich habe fest vor, diese Einstellung beizubehalten und ich weiß, dass ich auch hierbei erfolgreich sein werde.

Daycare Center for your Child – and what is left for you? – 28 Sep 16

As a parent, you obviously think about what is best for your child. In fact, that is your main aim: creating a surrounding for your child that will guarantee the best future and make him or her happy. Over this however, I sometimes believe many people forget that these children also need their parents physically. They need them to be with them as well!

It was today in Gurgaon when Ramona and I talked about this once more. We were at the hospital for a checkup of my father’s knees. He has had his knee replacement in March and some issues which he wanted to talk to the doctor about. It is a big private hospital that we always go to and where Apra was also born. You walk in and you see happy nurses and coordinators, you talk to the doctors and you feel good about consulting them.

We were waiting for our turn to go into the consultation room when Ramona said to me: isn’t it nice here in the city? People have their job, like here in the hospital, they work their hours and are happy, then go home and have their family time. It just felt like they are having a good life.

When we were sitting in the cafeteria – after having talked to the doctor who had recommended some exercises to my father – we looked out of the window. Next to the hospital, there is a playschool which we have seen grow over the course of the years that we have been visiting this hospital. Now we could see a big new banner next to their name on the top of the building: ‘Open till 7:30pm!’

Seeing this, Ramona and I both felt the same: what a pity if you have to give your child into a playschool or daycare center like this. You wake up your child in the morning and do the morning routine with brushing teeth and breakfast but there is not much time until they have to be in the school and you at work. And then you are busy until the evening at 7:30 pm! Pick up your child, now an evening routine of dinner and bedtime story – and off to bed.

What does your child have from you? What do you have from your child? Do you get to spend time together at all? The need for such a daycare center shows me that there is something going wrong! And this is part of the corporate world: the pressure, the time that you have to spend there and the loss that your children face because you are not there for them or with them.

Isn’t it horrible that it is like this? And that’s what I prefer about the life in a small town like Vrindavan: people here may earn some less money. We may also have less options when it comes to shopping and the like. What we have however is time for our children. That is a generalization of course. The trend is going towards the style of big cities however. It is a pity that this is happening…

Wherever you are and whatever you do for a living: I am still very strongly of the opinion that it is better to earn a bit less money, to live a bit more simply – but be happy!

Why a four-year-old is trained to feel ashamed when being naked in India – 5 Jul 16

In the past weeks, I have again experienced something which was a topic the last time when Apra was born and just a few weeks old: the idea that nakedness, even when it comes to children, could be something shameful. It is, to me, the most absurd idea to say ‘Shame, shame!’ when a small child walks around naked!

Let me elaborate on this a little bit. We were confronted with this topic for the first time when Apra was very small. Instead of putting her in diapers the whole day, she often crawled around with just her dress on. The underwear we got with these dresses was usually too tight for her legs and disturbed her – so we took it off. A few times, someone who came by would look at her with wide eyes and say ‘Oh, shame, shame!’ Obviously, a child of a few weeks or months did not react at all to that but we did. We always explained, as nicely and calmly as possible, that there was no shame in a baby being naked, it was just natural.

People got to know and in our Ashram environment, this kind of words stopped completely. Of course, the older Apra got, the more often she was wearing full clothes rather than not but it is still her home – sometimes moving from one room to the other happens without any clothes on!

With the restaurant, a lot of new people have come to our place. Our new staff doesn’t know us that well yet and that’s how it happened the other day: we had showered in the morning and as most of Apra’s clothes are in my father’s cupboard, she came out of our room with nothing but her slippers on. We were moving towards our father’s room when one of our employees said the familiar words: ‘Ooooh, Apra, shame, shame!’

We stopped and turned, starting our explanation right away: there is nothing shameful in being naked! If you find a four-year-old girl walking naked from one room to the other in her own home shameful, something is wrong with you, not with her! We adults don’t walk around naked due to social conditioning but in reality, there is nothing more natural than a naked body! What you try to instill in my daughter is something I don’t want her to learn! You are talking about shame to a child or who doesn’t even understand the concept of shame!

If anything, she would enjoy walking naked because it feels good or because you tell her she shouldn’t. It is something one doesn’t usually do – so she would do it extra and on purpose if you teach her this. Without this kind of teachings, she would usually wear clothes because everyone does – without any bad feelings about being naked!

Slowly even our new staff members get the idea that we think a bit differently from others. That we are not as much tied in the Indian idea of shame. They will learn not to say such things even if they don’t understand or agree with our reasons.

But it makes you think about what we teach our children about our bodies – shame and guilt. Make a change. Teach them to accept themselves and be more natural. This will help them in life!

When Apra is having Fun… – 18 Jun 16

I nearly daily see the proof that Apra is my daughter – if naughtiness is passed on from parents to children! Yesterday again, she did something we had to tell her not to do again but which we will laugh about for a long time!

We had showered Apra in the afternoon, when it was about to get dark, as she had played outside, sweated and just needed to get fresh. When we went towards the restaurant, Apra wanted to play on our playground with the other kids. We have added more sand there, which was still lying in heaps at the side of the playground, so Ramona agreed with one condition: only make your feet dirty, we have just showered!

Unsurprisingly, and hour and a half later Apra arrived in the restaurant: happily smiling and from top to toe covered in sand! In her hair, on her arms until the shoulders and of course inside her clothes as well. Oh well, Ramona sighed, talked with her about the ‘only your feet’ rule of before and wanted to go towards the bathroom again when she noticed: Apra was not wearing her shoes.

“Where did you leave your shoes?” Ramona wanted to know. She got a wave with the hand in direction of the playground. Off they went towards the playground where Ramona expected to see the shoes neatly by the side of the swing. Or maybe not neatly but at least visible in the low light of sundown. She did not expect that she would see simply nothing, not a trace of Apra’s pink sandals! “Where are your shoes?” she asked our four-year-old again, who immediately went to work: she dove in directly with both arms into the next hill of sand and started digging!

“We put them somewhere in here!” Apra explained! Obviously she could not remember anymore where exactly she had buried the shoes!

Ramona gave up and told her we would search in the morning, in daylight – and of course told her that this was not the right place to keep her footwear… but she could not help laughing!

Neither could we and I was reminded of so many stories of mine when I was her age or a bit older. Yes, that’s how the life of a child should look like!