Contextual morality and phases of life

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    Ciprian Begu

    In your book Six Causes you say:

    A mother is morally responsible to discipline her children when they are kids but not responsible for them when they have become adults. We have many contextual notions about what is morally right and wrong, and these rules change with roles, statuses and phases of life.

    It would be interesting to explore the issue of life phases and morality. How do we know when the transition from one phase to another has occurred, and thus know that a new moral context is now active? I think this is very important to establish, because what I’ve observed, especially in parent-child relationships is that there is an inertia on behalf of the parent to see their child as a child even when they are no longer objectively a child.
    When is the mother’s responsibility to discipline her child end, for instance? Is it universal for all humans (such as is indicated in astrological positions as ‘Jupiter return’, a transit that happens to everyone at the age of twelve and is said to substantially expand the thirst for knowledge, risk and adventure in everyone)? Or is it something to be seen on a case by case basis, based on other considerations?

    Ashish Dalela

    I can’t give you a reference here, but this is what I remember from reading somewhere. There are three phases of the child called lalan, palan, and tadan. From age 0-5 is lalan where you adore the child and shower affection. During ages, 5-10 is the phase called palan where you give instruction about right and wrong but you tolerate their mistakes. During ages, 10-15 is the time for tadan where you can beat the child if they are not obedient. Then after that —if the phases have been properly followed—you leave the child alone. Essentially after puberty, there is no beating! Modern sensibilities may be different but this is what the system is supposed to be.

    Ciprian Begu

    Thank you. It’s interesting how these phases are sometimes expressed with various ceremonies in different cultures. The Catholics have “confirmation of faith” at 14. Americans in general have the “sweet 16” special birthday, Jews have “bat mitzvah” at 13.

    Danakeli Dasi

    Letter from Srila Prabhupada 15 July 1969:
    The basic idea of raising children as they are described in the Vedic literature is that from birth till the age of five years the parents may be very lenient with the child. From the ages six to ten they should tighten the discipline of their child, and from the ages of ten till the sixteenth year the parents should be as strict as a tiger with their child so that he will be afraid to be disobedient at all. Then after the sixteenth year the parents shall treat their child as a friend, and the child is allowed to gradually develop his adult responsibility and independence.

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