Sowing Seeds of Love

Oct 10, 2010

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward.” – Psalms 127:3

My article “We Reap What We Sow” examined what parental pressure can do to children. In this article we will see what effect ‘unsowed’ love has on children. At the behest of a few readers who called me, we will also look at how we can sow the seeds of love for our children’s holistic growth.

For many working mothers in a city like Mumbai chores begin at 5 am – filling buckets with water, preparing the afternoon carry meal, getting children ready for school, and rushing to factories and offices for their daily grind. Returning home, the same mothers can be seen cutting vegetables in overcrowded trains to prepare a hot meal for the family.

Other women – blessed with luxuries – discuss how difficult it is to make children eat home-cooked food. “My boy loves pizzas and my girl only KFC.” Whether they are complaining or making a fashion statement is a mystery!

“Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn't have anything to do with it.” - Haim Ginott

High cholesterol levels, once found in adults in the 45+ age group, have sneaked into the veins of adults 20 years younger. Obesity and diabetes among young adults are alarmingly on the increase, as more well-to-do parents choose ‘convenience’ (fast food) over ‘service’ (home-cooked food). For the ‘economy class’ saying “no” to children’s demands comes naturally. For those who can afford the moon, it is a crucial skill that needs to be cultivated.

As we go on, let us observe the following conversation (if you can call it one!):

Parent: “What’s wrong with you?”
Teenager: (Just shrugs his shoulders.)
Parent: “Well, what’s wrong?”
Teenager: “Nothing.”
Parent: “Can’t you say something?”
Teenager: “What do you want me to say?” And walks off.

This scene comes in varied forms and is not uncommon. It is a result of children growing on empty love “tanks” caused by lack of attention. Some become demanding until the time comes when emotional blackmail (no motorbike, no study; no extra money, no study) is used as a weapon, leaving parents bewildered and frustrated. Some withdraw and are more prone to becoming depressed, with suicidal tendencies.

It is quite common to see teenagers ignoring advice; however, this does not always call for blowing the siren. Teenagers have to deal with hormonal changes, their own explosion of independence, peer pressure, as well as their own pressure to do well. Here all they may need is parents’ empathy, not castigation.

Sometimes “telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.” - Arnold H Glasow

A mother once told me that she gives wake-up calls, all the way from North America, to ensure that her son attends college, but to no avail. This is not a unique case. I know because there are many students living in my building in Manipal. The EMOTIONAL distance between these teenagers – when they were growing up - and their parents was as far apart as India is from USA.

While both parents are at work, there is a wailing in the child’s heart: “Why have you abandoned me?!” With parents and children tired, there is hardly any room for quality interaction even when they are together. Parents invariably make up by pampering kids with gifts.

The result: “As a rule, the mind, residing in a body that has become weakened by pampering, is also weak, and where there is no strength of mind there can be no strength of soul.” - Mahatma Gandhi

What perspective we have about children plays a big role in how we raise them. Tempted parents elect subjects for their sons – medicine being the most popular - because of its intrinsic, staggering, dowry value. An evening in my building compound uncovers the hidden pain of some students as they return home in utter drunken stupor. How many times I have woken up as their loud wail shatters the midnight canvas. Their cry: “Get me out of here.”

Here are some signs of troubled children: prefer isolation, threat of leaving home, unforgiving of own mistakes, anger without obvious reason, frequent mood swings, loss of appetite, over-eating, substance abuse, violent to self and others, depressed, question purpose of living, loss of sleep, waking up late, tired looks, etc. If your child displays any of these, looking the other way is a choice you simply don’t have.

For eons poets and spiritualists have tried to define love. Whatever the definition, love has been expressed in ways that are found even today in healthy homes:

1. Positive, Comforting or Compassionate Words: “I will always love.” “I knew you could do it.” “I was such a pain to my parents, but you are so wonderful.” “I am sorry that I was not there with you, but that will change.” These words are heart-warming and provide assurance.

2. Quality Time (Interaction Time): Discussing the day’s activities, or your child’s favourite subject; reading to a child; eating a meal or even watching television together. This is not to be mistaken with sitting next to a child and prodding him to do homework. 

If a child shows you his drawing, forbid saying “good,” “okay,” etc. Such a remark is judgmental and focuses on the picture. Instead, you may try saying: “How could you possibly get such beautiful shading? I could never do it!” It becomes a matter of HIM and that’s a great feeling. This also brings you to your child’s level and fosters togetherness.

3. Gifts: This is not to be mistaken with something you give for good marks – that is a REWARD. A GIFT is something that is unmerited and still given. Accompanying words are a must and add emotional flavour. A mother - struggling economically – can make her small gift a love-offering, if she speaks from her heart and says something like, “I wish I could give you better, but I could save just enough to give you this small gift. I love you and wanted you to have something. I hope you like it.” With this, the child sees sacrifice, humility and honesty – all at once.

4. Touch: It could be a high-five, a hug, a kiss, an embrace, a walk in the park holding your child’s hands – all good for physical bonding.

5. Service: A cooked meal, help with the homework, goes a long way in conveying to a child “I know your needs and I am willing to do all I can.” Children, who are served with love, are often found reaching out to others.

Ultimately, “your children need your presence more than your presents”. - Jesse Jackson

The examples given are only a few. What you can do and say is limited only by your imagination.

It is very important to note that attaching a condition is self-serving and has no place in any loving relationship. Our children still need to be told that we love them, even if their marks have not been good. This does not mean that we look the other way, but condemnation is destructive.

At the root of EVERY human being is the craving to feel needed. That is how we are designed by our Creator, and it cuts across all boundaries - including age. When a person begins to feel unneeded, he seeks to fill his emptiness elsewhere, often ending up no less empty than when he started.

“We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end.” - Benjamin Disraeli

Children, solely left with grandparents (already overwhelmed by the demands of our modern times), often end up spoiled and are no different than children raised by maids.

“Give me the life of the boy whose mother is nurse, seamstress, washerwoman, cook, teacher, angel, and saint, all in one; and whose father is guide, exemplar, and friend. No servants to come between. These are the boys who are born to the best fortune.” - Andrew Carnegie

Interestingly, the fond memories that children carry into old age are those that cost their parents nothing. 
Whatever financial goals young couples may have, their children’s physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual bonding cannot be left out of the equation. Bonding is truly life-centered.

“Mother Nature is providential. She gives us twelve years to develop a love for our children before turning them into teenagers.” - William Galvin

Here is a story that I had read as a teenager and one that still remains close to my heart:

Having lost her husband, a woman was left to raise two daughters (6 years and 8 years old). She had never worked before and was forced to take up a job as a house-keeper, working for three households to make ends meet. Returning worn out in the evening, she and her daughters would gather at the dining table for a snack. After that it was homework time for the daughters and cooking time for the mother. From time to time, the mother would sit beside them and discuss what they were reading. After dinner it was all fun as they shared the day’s experiences, followed by hugs and kisses as they retired for the day.

Both daughters finished high school, took up part-time jobs and continued with post-graduate studies. Eventually, both found proper employment. Imagine their astonishment when they later discovered that their mother was illiterate. As a gesture of love, they made their mother give up work and take up schooling. The proud mother graduated at the age of 54.

A closer look at the story reveals love being expressed in all forms: words, touch, quality time, service and gift (of education under difficult circumstances).

“Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.” - H.L.Mencken
”A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for life.” – Dalai Lama

What about God? Does He have any role to play? It is man’s grave blunder to think that laws found in scriptures are old fashioned. Some ask, “What would God know about raising today’s children?”

For the first 75 years of the last century, Americans were busy with their industrial revolution. God was not needed – they had their intellect. If intellect could take them to the moon, then what was the big deal about raising a few children? What they got was total disintegration of the family - the ripples of which are still felt in their society. From the last 25 years of that century, we have seen more and more Americans turning to God and trying to rebuild. Sadly, from where the Americans left off, Indians have picked up the baton. One can only hope that Indians don’t take 75 years to make a turn around!

Jesus said, “Truly, I tell all of you with certainty, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces a lot of grain.” While Jesus does not call parents to die, as He did for us, we are called to sow love into our children.

Once a teenager is lost, parents wake up and plead in vain, “We have always loved you, why can’t you believe us?”  Unless love is sowed (expressed), it has zero value; and, if expressed without condition, it becomes pure and creates stronger ripples.

Jesus chose twelve rugged people for His mission. He bonded physically, intellectually, socially and spiritually with them for only three years. Those men, save one, became part of a glorious history. Amazingly, Jesus was not their biological parent; and He had no money.

In the final analysis, it IS all a matter of the heart!

Oliver Sutari - Archives:

By Oliver Sutari
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Comment on this article

  • Dulcine , Mangalore/Kuwait

    Tue, Apr 02 2013

    Very valuable articles. I wish everyone who visits the website reads your articles. God bless you. Let more flow from your treasury of experience, wisdom and knowledge.

  • Hemangi, India

    Wed, Nov 24 2010

    come a long way since CRISIL:)

  • eliza vaz, manipal

    Sun, Oct 24 2010

    Excellent! Keep it up. reminded the sacrifices of my parent and my resposibilities as a parent. Thank you for being the guiding light through your weapon of writing.......please continue....

  • pallavi, manipal

    Fri, Oct 22 2010

    A wonderful article, which really gets across the dilemma of working parents, who try to make up for their absence with presents. You are a guiding light in a world of darkness.

  • regina, andheri,mumbai

    Sat, Oct 16 2010

    Brilliant article!!! Very enlightening!!! Your
    articles are very touching and practical for leading good healthy relationships.Keep up the good work.

  • : Sowing Seeds of Love, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 14 2010

    Wonderful article Mr. Oliver.. All the best..

  • Bennet Vas, Bejai

    Thu, Oct 14 2010

    Excellent article - Infact the earlier 2 were well written. Please continue to write on such topics that enlighten us and help us be better human beings.

  • Ayyub, Mlore

    Wed, Oct 13 2010

    You made me bought back all my old memories.

    THE TRUTH: My dad has not studied in school, but he worked hard from his childhood days, set up his own business and gave us all the luxuries i expected from him. but he never knew how to express his love towards his kid, or kids could not see that love from his point of view.

    For ex. when a dad tells his boy that he will buy a new dress for him....he is excited. but when he buys his choice of it and not even checks for a smile in his boys face, ask him if he likes that one, then that love is not communicated.

  • J Rebello fly,, Kaup, Udupi

    Tue, Oct 12 2010

    Nice article, beautifully written. Very interesting and educative, reminding our duties and responsibilities....... Thank you Oliver, keep writing.

  • Diana Sutari, Mumbai/Dubai

    Tue, Oct 12 2010

    Nice article Oliver, keep writing such motivated articles. It will surely change the minds of many parents and teenagers after reading your article

  • Prema Monteiro, Qatar

    Tue, Oct 12 2010

    Beautifully written....very nice article. Thank you!

  • Anita D'Souza, Mumbai/Doha

    Tue, Oct 12 2010

    Mr. Oliver Sutari, Thanks for sharing your views through this wonderful article. I am your fan too and looking forward for ur mails.Just reading and appreciating is not enough, we have to use it in our daily lives. Keep writing and God bless u n ur family.


    Mon, Oct 11 2010

    Its really very guidance article. GOOD-LUCK for articles

  • Clement Cardoza, Kelmbet, Dubai

    Mon, Oct 11 2010

    If you want to become Big - Look to Guliver
    If you want to become wise and prudent - read Sutari "Oliver"

    Hats off to you sir, I have become your fan.

    Look forward to see you touching communication issues / lapses in families, especially between Husband & Wife in todays fast life.

  • Roopa Lobo, Vamanjoor/ Sharjah

    Mon, Oct 11 2010

    It's a wonderful article. I'm a great fan of yours and waiting for more articles from you.

  • Jagdish, mangalore/ dubai

    Mon, Oct 11 2010

    I wish Ii could meet you and touch your feet as a mark of respect. There are times in our life wherein we have to decide what is good, wife working for the extra money which could help us fulfill our material needs, also status symbol or wife at home with kids.

    No one can quantify the benefits in monetary terms but its true, a house becomes home sweet home and children grow with lot of love and care. I thank you for this beautiful article. God bless and good sense prevail on all of us.

  • Janette D'souza, Mangalore/Abu Dhabi

    Sun, Oct 10 2010

    I certainly agree with Mr.Prasad Kumar. I am too amazed and lost for words to comment on the article. You choose very fragile topics to write on. I am sure that is the reason why there are only a few comments here. Nevertheless, people love to read your articles. Very enlightening. Please do write more on various other sensitive subjects as well. Waiting for more articles from you.


    Sun, Oct 10 2010

    Dear Sir,

    I rarely read articles in the daijiworld. But when I started reading yours since the power of human will and We reap what we sow, i just become a great fan of yours. Each one is different from other. Every time I'm just waiting for your article, becauses you are completely different and extraordinary. Everytime you come up with a different article which is very essential for the today's modern society. I really appreciate and thankful for giving us such wonderful articles. May God bless you.

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