According to me, the function of the parents is not how to help the children grow -- they will grow without you. Your function is to support, to nourish, to help what is already growing. Don't give directions and don't give ideals. Don't tell them what is right and what is wrong: let them find it by their own experience.
Only one thing you can do, and that is share your own life. Tell them that you have been conditioned by your parents, that you have lived within certain limits, according to certain ideals, and because of these limits and ideals you have missed life completely, and you don't want to destroy your children's life. You want them to be totally free -- free of you, because to them you represent the whole past.
It needs guts and it needs immense love in a father, in a mother, to tell the children, "You need to be free of us. Don't obey us -- depend on your own intelligence. Even if you go astray it is far better than to remain a slave and always remain right. It is better to commit mistakes on your own and learn from them, rather than follow somebody else and not commit mistakes. But then you are never going to learn anything except following -- and that is poison, pure poison."
It is very easy if you love. Don't ask "how", because "how" means you are asking for a method, a methodology, a technique -- and love is not a technique.
Love your children, enjoy their freedom. Let them commit mistakes, help them to see where they have committed a mistake. Tell them, "To commit mistakes is not wrong -- commit as many mistakes as possible, because that is the way you will be learning more. But don't commit the same mistake again and again, because that makes you stupid."
So it is not going to be a simple answer from me. You will have to figure it out living with your children moment to moment, allowing them every possible freedom in small things.
For example, in my childhood... and it has been the same for centuries, the children are being taught, "Go to bed early, and get up early in the morning. That makes you wise."
I told my father, "It seems to be strange: when I am not feeling sleepy, you force me to sleep early in the evening." And in Jaina houses early in the evening is really early, because supper is at five o'clock, at the most six. And then there is nothing else to do -- the children should go to sleep.
I said to him, "When my energy is not ready to go to sleep, you force me to go to sleep. And when, in the morning, I am feeling sleepy, you drag me out of the bed. This seems to be a strange way of making me wise! And I don't see the connection -- how am I going to become wise by being forced to sleep when I am not feeling sleepy? And for hours I lie down in the bed, in the darkness... time which would have in some way been used, would have been creative, and you force me to sleep. But sleep is not something in your hands. You cannot just close your eyes and go to sleep. Sleep comes when it comes; it does not follow your order or my order, so for hours I am wasting my time.
"And then in the morning when I am really feeling sleepy, you force me to wake up -- five o'clock, early in the morning -- and you drag me out for a morning walk towards the forest. I am feeling sleepy and you are dragging me. And I don't see how all this is going to make me wise. You please explain it to me!
"And how many people have become wise through this process? You just show me a few wise people -- I don't see anybody around. And I have been talking to my grandfather, and he said that it is all nonsense. Of the whole household, that old man is the only sincere man. He does not care what others will say, but he has told me that it is all nonsense: `Wisdom does not come by going early to bed. I have been going early to bed my whole life -- seventy years -- and wisdom has not come yet, and I don't think it is going to come! Now it is time for death to come, not for wisdom. So don't be befooled by these proverbs.'"
I told my father, "You think it over, and please be authentic and true. Give me this much freedom -- that I can go to sleep when I feel sleep is coming, and I can get up when I feel that it is time, and sleep is no longer there."
He thought for one day, and the next day he said, "Okay, perhaps you are right. You do it according to yourself. Listen to your body rather than listening to me."
This should be the principle: children should be helped to listen to their bodies, to listen to their own needs. The basic thing for parents is to guard the children from falling into a ditch. The function of their discipline is negative.
Remember the word "negative"... no positive programming but only a negative guarding -- because children are children, and they can get into something which will harm them, cripple them. Then too don't order them not to go, but explain to them. Don't make it a point of obedience; still let them choose. You simply explain the whole situation.
Children are very receptive, and if you are respectful towards them they are ready to listen, ready to understand; then leave them with their understanding. And it is a question only of a few years in the beginning; soon they will be getting settled in their intelligence, and your guarding will not be needed at all. Soon they will be able to move on their own.
I can understand the fear of the parents that the children may go in a direction which they don't like -- but that is your problem. Your children are not born for your likings and your dislikings. They have to live their life, and you should rejoice that they are living their life -- whatever it is.”