Do Hindu scriptures say anything about the responsibility of parenthood?
Specific references to verses from Hindu books would be highly appreciated.
I am not sure about Hindu texts but here are views of the Hindu saint Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on this:
When a baby is born, along with it, a mother and a father are also born. Often, we are eager to teach our little ones when there is a lot to learn from them. A baby exudes all the qualities of an enlightened person. A baby lives completely in the moment. Babies practice all the mudras right from the beginning. They are born in adi mudra-- thumb tucked in a fist. They often sleep in chin mudra, index finger touching the thumb and chinmay mudra, with the remaining three fingers closed in a fist. Around the time their spine begins to develop, they start sucking their thumb (merudanda mudra). Through the day, they stretch and twist their spine or touch their toes and so on. Every posture of a baby is somewhere related to yoga. In fact, it appears that yoga was developed by looking at a baby growing.
Many times, people brush aside what babies say as gibberish. Interestingly, children often remember things from their past lives, and between the age of three and seven, they start forgetting it. So, if you keenly listen to them talk, they may be expressing things from their previous birth.
An individual’s life and character is shaped by four factors. One fourth of it comes from parents. Another one fourth is acquired through education and upbringing. Karma or the cause-and-effect of one’s actions provides another one fourth and one’s own effort make up the last quarter. So parents form the very first foundation of a child’s life. A child starts his learning process by imitating his parents.
Children normally are keen observers. They observe everything, every moment. Most parents are oblivious to the fact that children are scrutinising them every moment. Therefore, it is important for parents to be free from stress because parents’ stress or joy, their character and attitudes get transferred to the child.
Children are naturally drawn to music and dance. It is advisable to expose them to music which is not too aggressive, harsh and hard rock type.
Often parents cannot tolerate children crying. But we should not be too anxious to put a pacifier in the child’s mouth when it cries. It is good for the child to cry a little everyday for it opens up the lungs as well as the cranial bones. Osteopaths also testify to this.
While dealing with children or educating them, one tends to give a lot of negative suggestions. We should be conscious of this and instead should give positive suggestions. Instead of saying, “Don’t go there”, we can say, “Come here”. Similarly, instead of saying, “Don’t throw the bottle”, we can say, “Keep the bottle there”. One can make an effort to turn suggestions more affirmative rather than negative.
Children are a blessing from the Divine. Not only do they bring immense joy with them, bringing them up is a highly educational experience for the parents. They get plenty of opportunities to become more caring, more patient, to lead by example and most of all, to shower all their love on their bundles of joy. In some sense, it will not be wrong to say that parents play the role of God. With so many flavours, parenting can be a very colourful journey and a rewarding one too.
The position of the mother is the highest in the world, as it is the one place in which to learn and exercise the greatest unselfishness. The love of God is the only love that is higher than a mother's love; all others are lower. It is the duty of the mother to think of her children first and then of herself. But, instead of that, if the parents are always thinking of themselves first, the result is that the relation between parents and children becomes the same as that between birds and their offspring which, as soon as they are fledged, do not recognize any parents. Blessed, indeed, is the man who is able to look upon woman as the representative of the motherhood of God. Blessed, indeed, is the woman to whom man represents the fatherhood of God. Blessed are the children who look upon their parents as Divinity manifested on earth.