The Art of Parenting

Osho on Parenting


A: Few guidelines can be given.

One: they should not make any effort that their children become carbon copies of them. And every parent is doing that, trying to make the child just a carbon copy. If you love your children that is the first thing to be stopped — completely stopped — for the single, and simple reason, that nature does not accept carbon copies. It accepts only the original. And they should ask themselves what they have gained in their life. What are their blessings, what are their songs and ecstasies? There is nothing — their lives are empty deserts — and still they are trying their children to live according to them. One thing is certain that their children should not live according to them. That should be their basic approach, because they have achieved only misery, anguish, anxiety, all kinds of suffering, but they are completely unaware that they are preparing again another generation for the same kind of experiences…

The parents should be aware of what they are conditioning their children because they have lived through that conditioning. What was their achievement? One thing is absolutely certain: that they have failed, that their life has been just a long, long misery and suffering. So, one thing is certain that they should make the children aware: that, “Don’t copy us, we have failed. Do anything, but don’t copy us. At least try something new. Don’t copy us.” But parents are doing just the opposite. That is their projection of the ego. The father wants the child to represent him to the world — to be more respectable, to be more honored, to be more rich — so that the world knows whose son he is. Even after death the world will remember him through his son. He is not interested in the individuality of his son; he is interested in his own ego projection. That’s why he completely forgets that he has lived in hell and now he is preparing his son also to live in the same hell. Just parents have to be very alert and aware. This is the first thing.

The second thing is that the children should be protected, watched that they don’t go astray, that they don’t commit suicide or become addicts to drugs. They should be protected, but very delicately and very understandingly.

I asked my father, that “I want to start smoking.” And I was only thirteen year of age. And he said, “What? — smoking? And you have some guts — you are asking me? If people want to smoke, and particularly children, they hide somewhere and smoke; and you are asking my permission?” I said, “Yes, because I don’t want to do so many wrong things. First, smoking; then lying, cheating, hiding — and if I am caught, then what face I will show to you? People are smoking all around. I want to know what is in it. And I don’t have money for it, and I want to have the best kind of cigars, cigarettes…. You manage.”

He said, “I have to manage it too?” I said, “Certainly, do you want me to steal? Do you want me to beg from neighbors? You have to arrange it.” He waited for a moment, then he said, “Yes, perhaps that is the right way. Perhaps you are right.”

And he arranged, and that was my first and the last experience with smoking. It was simply stupid and silly to take the dirty smoke inside and out when pure oxygen is available. And particularly in my place, it was so beautiful and so windy. Polluting your own breathing and paying for it, destroying your own lungs and paying for it…. I told my father, “It is finished forever. But if you had not allowed me, perhaps I may have got into the habit of it. It becomes a challenge. If you say no, then it becomes a challenge. Then I have to prove myself also.”

Every child has to prove his individuality some way or other. And perhaps if I had gone smoking few days, I may have become accustomed to it, addicted to it.

The children should be protected, but given all opportunities and freedom. That is my second thing. And the children should be given every freedom to experience the good, the bad, so they can decide on their own. You need not have to say it to them. You need not have to force them to follow certain rules, regulations. Let them find their way. You simply watch carefully that they don’t fall in a ditch.

And third thing: never say anything to your children that is not your existential experience. Accept your ignorance. That will give more respect to you, more trust in you, but the parental ego wants to pretend that they know everything: they know God, they know heaven, they know hell. They know everything, and they know nothing. Sooner or later the children are going to discover that their parents were lying about such ultimate things that they… all their trust and all their love will disappear into their revenge, hatred. So the third thing is just say to the children what you have experienced. And tell them that you don’t know anything about God. You want to know, but you don’t know. You are a seeker, and tell the children, that “You are also to be seekers. If I find it before you I will tell you. If you find it before, you tell me. We can always be available to communicate.”

This is one of the difficult things in the world. Parents and children are almost living with such a gap that communication is impossible. Whatever the parents say to the children it looks all rubbish. Whatever the children say to parents it looks childish. The third thing means that the parents should be friends to their children. It is their responsibility to bridge the gap. Be respectful to the child. Parents expect respect from the children, but they forget that this is something mutual. You respect the children and they will respect you. You trust the children and they will trust you. And then there is a possibility of communication, and a great communication is needed. But that is possible if the parents are not lying.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse Series: The Last Testament, Vol 2 Chapter #12

Chapter title: None

1 September 1985 pm in Jesus Grove


Osho has spoken on ‘children, parents, parenting, communication, understanding, freedom, love’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Beyond Psychology
  2. Christianity: The Deadliest Poison and Zen: The Antidote to All Poisons
  3. From Darkness to Light
  4. From Bondage to Freedom
  5. The Messiah, Vol 1, 2
  6. Philosophia Ultima
  7. Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
  8. The Transmission of the Lamp
  9. Zarathustra: The Laughing Prophet
  10. Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing
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