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Go to the Mandir Regularly

A Mississippi State University study by sociologist Dr. John Bartkowski found thatkids whose parents regularly attended religious services–especially when both parents did so frequently–were rated as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents. Many studies have shown a link between attending religious services and lower rates of substance abuse. One study also shows that adolescents whose mothers attend religious services at least once a week showed greater satisfaction with their lives, were more involved with their families, and felt greater support from their friends compared to those whose mothers didn’t attend religious services. Clearly, there are many social benefits to attending sabha, however, for us the most important benefit is building a relationship with Maharaj and Swami. From a young age, our children can see that we visit Maharaj in his home because he is important to us. We value Swamishri by attending sabha and learning his mahima. By going to mandir we have the opportunity to interact with sadhus. The sadhus’ love for Swami is so apparent that children will absorb this and learn from them. After sabha, we should make it a point to talk about our experience at mandir positively. This is key to ensuring children see how we value mandir and our fellow satsangis. We should avoid speaking negatively about satsangis or mandir as it will create internal conflict rather than encouragement for our child.

Every Day is Swami’s Day

“Daily satsang and reading of our religious texts will solve all problems.
We should also turn the mala, worship, and visit the mandir and hold gharsabha for harmony in the family.
Gharsabha is a cure for all discords, but this is not understood.”
~Pramukh Swami Maharaj

Our days are infused with satsang from our morning puja to nightly chesta. Performed consistently, these daily activities are more than touch points with satsang: they help weave bhakti into the very fabric of our lives. This foundation of devotion equips us and our families with everything we need to face the ups and downs of life. A young boy named Prashant Ajmera of Calcutta was in the habit of making a new toy every day for God to play with. When Swami heard about this he wrote a letter to Prashant: “You make new toys for God daily and arrange them in front of the murtis...This will please God…”  Let us look at some fun and engaging ways that we can help bring satsang and Swamishri into our child’s daily life.

 

1.Bhajans (singing or playing while):

  • The children get ready in the morning and at night
  • Driving
  • Eating
  • Dancing with your children

2. Prayers:

  • Showing gratitude for everything you have, asking the children what they are grateful for and thanking Maharaj and Swami.
  • If they are older, have the children keep a gratitude journal, or a journal they can write to Swami daily about their day and pray for their concerns.
  • When someone is unwell, and daily for Swamishri’s health
  • When offering anything new that has been purchased for its good use including toys, books, electronics, etc.
  • Before eating
  • For their studies

3. Play:

  • For younger children, pretend play involving gharmandir and murtis– such as making a meal for Swamishri or taking Swamishri on a plane ride, making a birthday card or a garland for Swamishri, using murtis to create a book or play peek-a-boo
  • For older children, creating satsang-related games such as trivia, word searches or puzzles, building a mandir from various materials at home, drawing Swamishri, hot potato and player who gets it recites Swami nivaatetc, Swami says

4. Darshan:

  • Watching videos of Swamishri’svicharan as a family
  • Browsing pictures of Swamishri
  • Going to mandir on weekdays
  • Placing murtis around the home

5. Smruti:

  • For children that have had Swami’s darshan or labh; to talk about that experience in detail, show pictures or prasadi items.
  • Make it a point to write down every day something you and/or your child did to grow your bond closer to Swamishhri. Create a journal of those moments when your children or you had Swamishri’sdarshan and labh, write details about the event, write down when your child first attended sabha, when your child said something sweet or smart about satsang, moments when your child showed their affection for Maharaj and Swami, and when your child performs at mandir or sings or presents in sabha.You can make a note of it along with photos and video of the event.

6. BAPS Kids Resources  – Website – kids.baps.org & and Bal Prakash

  • The BAPS Kids Website and the Bal Prakash are both excellent resources for helping children gain satsang knowledge and become closer to Maharaj and Swami. As parents, we can spend time taking our children through the various aspects of the kids’ website and the Bal Prakash on a daily basis.

Parenting as a Team

As parents we can play a vital role in building our children’s relationship with Swamishri. It requires intention, attention and focus. The Parenting Journal, published by Swaminarayan Aksharpith, says, “Parents often praise themselves when their child fulfils their expectations, but when their child challenge’s these expectations, they often ask themselves, ‘Where did we go wrong in parenting our child?’ But when faced with parenting challenges, the important question is, ‘Have I fulfilled my true role as a parent to the best of my ability?’
The Parenting Journal is an excellent resource in guiding us as to what are the key elements of successful parenting.  Parenting is a joint effort between the mother and the father.  It is important for both parents be on the same page about how they are going to parent their child, this will ensure success in fulfilling our vision of nurturing and guiding our child. One of the ways to do this is for both parents to regularly sit together, for example once a week, and discuss ways to improve their parenting, with the goal of how to bring their child closer to Satsang. It is the perfect opportunity for open communication about not only improving our children but to improve ourselves and thus be better role models for them. The Parenting Journal is an invaluable resource to guide such weekly sessions on improving ourselves as parents.
This article is filled with practical ways for helping our children build a relationship with Swamishri. By leading by example every day, sharing our experiences, and going to mandir regularly we can give our child the greatest gift that she can receive in the form of a bond with Maharaj and Swami.

Conclusion

As parents, we often think about how we can impact our children’s lives in a positive way. We think about what can we share with them so that they can preserve their understanding of their family and culture even after we are gone. Many people leave money, jewelry or other heirlooms for their children to use or to pass down from generation to generation. In satsang, we learn that anything material is ultimately perishable...so what can we do? In truth, the most important heirloom is Satsang, itself. Therefore, let us pray that we too can pass on the love for the Satpurush to future generations to come.
 

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