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Gandhari: Is there such a thing as too much love for our kids?

Updated: Feb 27, 2022


Blog #2: Excessive love for our children

Do we love our children? Do we overlook their mistakes?

Do we find it hard to reprimand them for bad bahavior?

Do we punish them for bad actions before they develop into bad habits?

Does our desire for their happiness come in the way of balanced consequences?

Are we good parents or spoiling our children?

Mahabharata Context:

Gandhari is the blind King Dhritarashtra's queen. She has some tremendous good qualities like empathy. She spends her entire married life wearing a blindfold so that she can truly understand being a good wife to her blind husband. She is pious and devoted and even stands up before the war to apologize for the indignity caused to Draupadi and profusely apologizes to restore peace within the family. However, she downplays the bad behavior of her sons until the consequences become an all-consuming war. She tolerates the brazen ambition of her eldest son, Duryodhana and the criminal acts of her second born just because they were her children. She did not agree and even actively works to dissuade her children from choosing the wrong path but would not hold them accountable for abhorrent, bad behaviour.

Alas, at the end of the Mahabharata war, she is desperate to save her last surviving son, Duryodhana after all the others have been killed in battle. Her womb cries out in pain for at least one child to survive the terrible war. Gandhari creates a defense armor in her desperate attempts to save her last son who epitomizes naked ambition, Duryodhana. Gandhari manifests all her worship into a divine armor that makes Duryodhana invincible except his pelvic region. This forces the avatar Krishna to bend Dharmic rules of war and advise the use of "under the belt" warfare to ensure the righteous victory of Dharma and the defeat of evil. The tragedy of mindless and senseless love of her flawed son forced Gandhari to lose all her blessings and then retreat into the forest for salvation.

Our null hypothesis of the Gandhari persona

We think that Gandhari was a wonderful character with a lot of good attributes and in so many ways she was a model wife and human being. However, as a mother, Gandhari fails the test due to one negative behavior- Excessive love for her children. In her eyes, her children could always be forgiven and bad behavior from them never reached a point where it had real consequences of punishment from their mother. This behaviour ended up causing and accelerating the creation of a rampaging prince Duryodhana who would simply not accept anything other than becoming emperor even though his elder brother, Yudhistira was the rightful heir.

Lesson learned: The lesson for us to is to teach our kids to discern between good acts and bad acts early and hold them accountable for bad actions early. Yes, they will make mistakes but not facing the consequences of bad acts is worse for them. Parenting is not meant to be soft. Kids need to know the difference between good and bad, legal and illegal, etc. Blurring the lines between love and holding them accountable is hard but necessary. This is the essence of good parenting for all of us. And dare I say most of us are imperfect parents? What % of you is Gandhari?

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