The Jungle Book has been a treasure chest of dreams, day-dreams, mischief, innocence, entertainment, friendships and fun for me as a child.
I grew up yearning the life of Mowgli who had the joy of all play and no work, no calls from his mother to clean up his room or to take bath, never had to slog at home-work or be burdened by the weight of the school bag on his back.
The love and care of a best friend in Baloo, the protective guidance and brotherly love of Bagheera, a pack of loving siblings in wolves who always looked up to the man-cub Mowgli for inspiration and the terror of Shehr Khan always gifted me life goals but this time when I went ahead to watch ‘The Jungle Book’ movie with my child, I learnt new lessons as a parent:
1. Unconditional Love:
The love of Akela (the leader of the wolf pack) and Raksha (the mother wolf who raised Mowgli as her own cub) teaches unconditional love as does the warmth of all the animals of the jungle. They care, guide, protect Mowgli like their own, never for a moment stopping to think that he was a different species. We as parents ought to accept our children the same way. With all their flaws, desires and aspirations always being supportive and loving them irrespective of their choices in life.
2. Letting go:
Being over-protective is easy. Towering tall over our kids, never letting them grow might feel safe but isn’t the right thing to do. Like Raksha chooses to let Mowgli move on in life to travel to safer pastures, we ought to set our children free, not without reassuring them “No matter what may happen in life you are mine and I shall love you the same forever.”
3. Look children in their eyes:
Always look at your children in their eyes with kindness and respect so that when they look into yours they can learn to see the truth, feel the warmth and can learn to judge if what you say comes from your heart. Besides, as Kaa taught us, it works like a charm when hypnotizing too.
4. Saying it like it is:
This lesson comes more from Baloo ( the sloth bear) than Raksha that trusting our children with family secrets in ways that they can get the gist of it, saves them from being maligned by anyone in the world. The children would always know you have their bigger interest in mind because truth has a way of rising from the deepest dungeons to shine brightly. Let it come from you. Never let anyone else tell them what you should have because it is a mean, bad world away from the safety of our homes.
5. Introduction to traditions:
Like Bagheera introduces Mowgli to the rules of the jungle, also teaching him how he ought to respect the old and powerful (the elephants) so should we as parents. It’s vital to introduce our children to our roots, following the traditions to help them embark on an onward journey in the life blessed by the roots where our foundations lie. Traditions are a trigger, a reason to get together, they get you in the right mindset. It is in the respect of all generations and their values that we can co-exist in harmony in the world.
6. Taking it easy:
Remembering the bare necessities of life is so important as we chase ulterior goals. Valuing friendships, feeling the sun warm our backs, stepping back to watch the bees, buzzing, flowers blooming, spending hours picking fruits from trees are as important as being working hard to be who we aspire to be in life. We parents need to let our children enjoy their growing up years carefree, free of strife. Let them fall free to learn to fall on their feet. Maintaining equanimity is the crux of parenting.
7. Letting our children be:
We are all unique individuals. Even though our children share our DNA they are a unique set of genes who are driven by their own dreams and desires. We can be their guide but expecting them to be just what we vision them to be is handicapping their potentials. Always putting our children’s best interests to the fore comes easy but a parent needs to know when to step back and let the children fight their own battles. We as parents should help our children learn to play to their strengths but when the going gets tough, let them choose their plan of action.
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