As a parent struggling with the challenges of parenthood, this story is truly inspiring. I have always believed that hitting children can never teach them what is good and what is bad. Violence is always a short cut resorted to by most of us to lighten the onerous but very satisfying task of parenting. On the other hand shouting and screaming is also a violent method of controlling children and that is one thing I as a parent have not been able to control. Being firm and shouting at the kids are two very different things. This incident yet again proves that I have so much to learn as a parent.
Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-violence, in his June 9 lecture at the University of Puerto Rico , shared the following story as an example of "non-violence in parenting":
"I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban , South Africa , in the middle of the sugar plantations. We were deep in the country and had no neighbors, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going to town to visit friends or go to the movies.
One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day in town, my father ask me to take care of several pending chores, such as getting the car serviced. When I dropped my father off that morning, he said, ' I will meet you here at 5:00 p.m., and we will go home together. '
After hurriedly completing my chores, I went straight to the nearest movie theatre. I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double-feature that I forgot the time. It was 5:30 before I remembered. By the time I ran to the garage and got the car and hurried to where my father was waiting for me, it was almost 6:00.
He anxiously asked me, ' Why were you late? ' I was so ashamed of telling him I was watching a John Wayne western movie that I said, ' The car wasn ' t ready, so I had to wait, ' not realizing that he had already called the garage. When he caught me in the lie, he said: ' There ' s something wrong in the way I brought you up that didn ' t give you the confidence to tell me the truth. In order to figure out where I went wrong with you, I ' m going to walk home 18 miles and think about it. '
So, dressed in his suit and dress shoes, he began to walk home in the dark on mostly unpaved, unlit roads. I couldn ' t leave him, so for five-and-a-half hours I drove behind him, watching my father go through this agony for a stupid lie that I uttered. I decided then and there that I was never going to lie again.
I often think about that episode and wonder, if he had punished me the way we punish our children, whether I would have learned a lesson at all. I don ' t think so. I would have suffered the punishment and gone on doing the same thing. But this single non-violent action was so powerful that it is still as if it happened yesterday. That is the power of non-violence. "
"Forgiveness is giving up my right to hate you for hurting me."