Gandhi adherence to nonviolence was not limited to the political sphere. It permeated every aspect of his life and his children followed his example.
Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi shared the following story as an example of nonviolence 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 asked 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 theater. 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 are 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 the 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 nonviolent action was so powerful that it is still as if it happened yesterday. That is the power of nonviolence.”
We have the power to create a nonviolent world, but it begins in our homes and in how we engage our children.
Lessons From My Grandfather
How to Go From a Nagging Parent to a Master Motivator
For all the parents out there, I highly recommend this. It’s a look at evidence behind strategies of childrearing. There are a lot of parenting books out there but few with this level of evidence.”