Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

Let Us Teach Our Kids To Seek The Highest Good For Its Own Sake

August 6, 2015

Let Us Teach Our Kids To Seek The Highest Good
Don’t look at your phone while you’re driving, Vivek

I was talking to my dear friend Zahra and we were making plans to have tea together next week.
I was driving as we were talking and when it came time for me to look at my calendar to pick a date I pulled over before I looked at my phone.

As I did I asked the question:
“Am I pulling over because I want to avoid a ticket?
Or am i pulling over because I care about the safety of others?”

Zahra promptly said:
“Oh My God, those tickets are the worst!”

I Was Trying To Avoid The Ticket

To be honest, a significant part of me was trying to avoid the ticket
and not necessarily thinking about the safety of myself or others.

Thinking about the kind of person I want to be
I would prefer that my motivation for my actions
was about caring for others
rather than fearing the consequence of my actions to myself.

Who Am I Without The Threat Of Punishment?

It seems to me that if that threat of punishment wasn’t there
I might have made the less safe and caring choice.

That feels like a selfish and self-centered motivation
rather than loving and compassionate one.

Of course this made me think about parenting.
No surprise, everything makes me think about parenting!

What Inner Motivation Do We Want For Our Children?

Do we want to raise our children to ‘not text while they are driving’ to avoid the ticket
or to ‘not text while they are driving’ so that they do not hurt anyone?

If your answer to that question is that you don’t care why they do it as long as they don’t text while they are driving then you are probably reading the wrong blog and might want to check out the one down the hall.

I think this is an important question for us to ponder
because it can dramatically change many of our parenting decisions.

How Can We Teach Our Kids To Behave Well With No Threat Of Punishment?

If we want our kids to behave well
even when there is no threat of punishment
then we must create that atmosphere for them.

We must teach them to make the right decisions
based on how they feel inside
rather than from fear of what will happen if they don’t.

Doing Away With Punishment And Consequences

Clearly if we are thinking this way
we must do away with punishments and consequences.

If we use punishments and consequences to control our children’s actions
then we are forcing them into a mindset of thinking about themselves first.

We are forcing them to think about avoiding pain
rather than seeking the highest good.

And just like I might not have pulled over to look at my calendar when I was driving today,
our children might not make the best decisions for the highest good
if there is no threat of punishment hanging over their heads.

Let Us Encourage Them To Seek The Highest Good For Its Own Sake

If they learn to evaluate situations based on their feelings rather than fear
and if they develop a sense of wanting to do good by people
in an atmosphere of complete freedom
then the decision making skills they acquire will be of the highest nature.

Making the right choice will not be dependent on
them experiencing punishment for misbehaviour,
but will come from a deep sense of caring
for their fellow human being.

Isn’t this a wonderful quality to pass along to our children?
I certainly think so.

The Higher Path Is Always The More Challenging One
And The More Rewarding!

Of course it is much more challenging to work with kids in this manner.
Especially since generations and generations of children
have been brought up having their behaviour controlled
through punishment and consequences.
It can be so hard to see any other way.

I hope you will join me in thinking about this
more peaceful and deeper non punitive
method of parenting and relating to your children.

Teens Live in A Different Universe

February 17, 2015

teens live in a different universe
Someone came to me because they were having many difficult interactions with teens.
She was having trouble understanding why they acted out in such negative ways.

She asked me for some ideas on how she could understand and work with her young people because nothing she was doing seemed to have any effect.

The following is what I shared with her.

Teens Live in a Different Universe

In order to understand teenage behaviour, it is important to understand that teens live in a different universe from adults. It’s not that their reality is less valid, it’s just different. In fact one of the main problems that adults have in relating to teens is thinking that the adult perspective is more valid more real than the teens. Believe me the teen can feel that the moment you open your mouth, even just in how you look at them! They know.

The Teenage years are a difficult transition stage from childhood into adulthood. This transition causes a lot of pain and confusion. Something deep is being lost and left behind. Something unknown and scary is being introduced, almost forced upon them.

We are Born Spiritually Open

Children come into the world in a very open spiritual state.
They see adults and don’t understand why we act the way we do.
We seem disconnected and closed, compared to the innocent and fresh mind of the newborn and the toddler. We have no imagination, a limited ability to play and we take things way too seriously.
You know what I’m talking about.

Then, as they grow, they have to choose either to be ostracized by the people in their lives or to conform. The vast, vast, vast majority of young people choose to conform. This is because we expect a certain standard of behavior from them and if they don’t meet that standard they receive some sort of correction. It might be disapproval, it might be a Lesson, it might be punishment or even a spanking.

We Learn To Deny Who We Are

I’m talking about very young children.
They learn that if they want the approval and love of their parents and the adults in their lives they have to behave in a certain way. Most often those expected behaviours are not their natural inclinations. So from the earliest ages we learn to deny who we are.

It is a rare child that can hang on to their authentic self as they leave toddler-hood and enter the tween years.

When children start to become teenagers, they are really leaving the innocent and pure childhood behind.
This is a very painful loss.
They may not know what’s happening, but they feel it, and it hurts!

Spiritual Self-Defence

A large part of the teen angst we witness is the spirit rebelling against this loss. The spirit knows that it is being buried, and may remain buried for a long long time!!
It rebels against this with all its might!!
This is not “just a phase” it’s a spiritual transition.

So the destruction, anger, crazy clothes (from an adult perspective), rudeness, Self-destructive behaviour and other teen characteristics are a last ditch effort of the spirit to assert itself against the tyranny of social conformity!!

I can distinctly remember this feeling from when I was a teen. I was blessed with some awareness of these causes when I was that age, but I acted out anyway. I could feel that none of the adults in my life understood what I was feeling. I felt that they were always minimizing the importance of my thoughts and the depth of my feelings.

How lovely it would have been to my conflicted mind and heart if someone had said “I understand what you’re going through. Your feelings are natural and I know you’re doing your best. I accept and love you exactly as you are.”

One Kind Word Can Make a Difference

When I see teens acting out, I say a silent prayer
that they will meet an adult that can understand what they are going through and validate the struggle of this transition from child to adult.

One word, one act of validation from an unexpected source can make a huge difference in the quality of that transition. Young people need compassion and guidance as they make the necessary transition from being children to adults. There isn’t much care given to this in our society. In fact I would like to see it not just validated, but celebrated and honoured!

My saying is:
     “I don’t believe kids are acting out, I believe they are reaching out.”

I cry out for the world to understand and embrace the struggle teens are going through.
I long for more adults to respect the perspective of young people as equally valid.

I hope this opens some door of insight into the seeming madness of teen insanity and how you might be able to be of some assistance to them.

One day soon I’ll post the story of how I encountered a young teen who had been expelled for taking a knife to school and threatening a teacher with it. It took a very short time before they were telling me about their pain and struggles and how they used that experience as a way to cope.