The Guiding Hand
Over the course of my writings the focus has been on adults, certainly those in their late teen years or higher. While a great deal of it is applicable to those under eighteen, it is not always readily apparent to them or necessarily easy to grasp, and certainly not the younger you are. At the same time, it is arguably this group that can benefit the most from it as they can avoid many of life’s issues and challenges if they get off on the right footing.
We all know there is a big gap in what learning our society provides at home, through school, peers, team activities and through church or other organization. The issues and challenges we adults face are rooted in our childhood. This is obvious, for our world would be in better shape if we had been teaching children in a more holistic fashion. The idea of writing for a younger audience has scurried around the edges of my conscious mind for a while now. It has come to the fore recently as a number of people have, in one manner or another, suggested I consider writing some material for this group. The benefits can be immense if I can manage to do justice to such an important topic. Given that helping is my intent and I love a challenge, I am going to try to do just that. But before I do I want to address the top half of this equation, namely how adults should deal with children.
Some of what I say may very well be contentious for in doing I will not avoid discussing what adults do to contribute to their challenges. My intent is not to chastise anyone for it, simply to make people aware of some of the things we do that add to the baggage of our children. Not having children in this case may seem a detriment, but it is not. I am looking from the outside in, while parents are generally looking from the inside out. Both perspectives miss some of what the other can provide. Nor does not need the experience of a parent to know how the mind develops. It is readily observable in children than adults, if one takes the time to do so; further, the same dynamics occur in adults, albeit at a far slow rate.
Providing sound guidance to children will be my focus. I will also try to provide ideas to adults so that they can consider them when interacting with children, be they their own or those of others. The real challenge is where to start with such a broad topic? I suppose the best way to do that is to start at the beginning of our life.
I did this in a previous piece (Time to Weigh Anchor (1)), in a look at guilt and blame. In that essay I mentioned that we come into life with a physical body and kernel, a Spark of energy some call the soul others spirit or even core. Regardless of the name you give it, this Spark contains aspects of self which you could relate to personality or even individuality. However, it is the essence or potential of aspects rather than their actuality as “things” such as thoughts or emotions.
As part of being human, this spirit wraps itself in energy of all the levels we have as part of what people refer to as an aura. Most of this energy is simply energy in its “natural state” that resonates with the energy of the Spark; the rest is pre-existing thoughts, and emotions, of various levels that were around us during our time in the womb. And we remain exposed and susceptible to the thoughts of others to varying degrees throughout our life.
The other two influences on us at the beginning of our lives are our physical bodies and the situation we were born into. The two are linked in that we are born into the right life for us to learn what we are here to learn. This implies that the bodies we have and the situation we are born into are the right ones for us to do this, which means we are born as who we are for a reason or reasons. This is an important to note as it implies that while it was not a choice we are conscious of we did choose our parents just as they chose to be our parents.
Why is this important? It is important because if we chose our parents we cannot blame them for being who they are. Do not take this statement as an excuse for what we perceive as their “faults”; it’s just the way it is. Further, parents cannot blame their children for the same reason. Recognition and acceptance of this made a big difference for me. It allowed me to shift from blaming my father responsible for his actions towards me and to looking at what the interactions we had could teach me.
Now, we burst forth into life and full manifestation when we are born, and from there begin to experience life. Of course, when we are young, we lack not only the thoughts to consider our experiences we lack a mind as it is built upon thoughts. We merely experience what we do and react mostly based on that kernel we come in with. The interesting thing about our newborn mind is that while it cannot understand what it experiences consciously it does perceive the physical world; it also perceives the thoughts and emotions of others.
To summarize, we have four basic influences on us as we begin our lives, and they are:
- Our unique Spark or soul
- The energies we build our aura with
- Our physical bodies
- Our family and/or circumstances of birth
The above is an oversimplification, but it will do for this discussion. Now, the question is where we go from here? We could try to follow a straight line path, but that is not helpful mainly because there is not one to be found. There are so many factors that affect our mental, emotional and spiritual development. Some of these are:
- The aspects we brought in
- What we experience
- Development of our mental capacity (observation and reasoning skills)
- How we integrate experiences (what thoughts we have created)
- Emotions triggered
- What is reinforced over time
As young children we cannot make sense of such things yet, however, our mind still picks up on them. Hence, if they are reinforced or we react strongly when we experience them, they can become part of our minds foundation. How we react depends significantly on the elements of that kernel. For instance, say our kernel contains a tendency to be passive. If everything around us is assertive or even aggressive we can react negatively to it. Our reaction will be much different if we have an aggressive quality within us, for example it can emphasize that trait within us. These reactions manifest thoughts, almost invariably not objective or well reasoned ones. Such thoughts, if they persist lead us to a wide range of issues.
This is a very simple example and takes into consideration only one variable so to speak. Such is never the case and there is no way to figure out how a child might react. The reason is a trait, such as passivity, is only one quality of many. Some of the other qualities we possess can and typically do play a role in our reaction to an experience as well as how we integrate it. From this it should be easy to see why, during the first few years of life, how we interact with children is critical to their development.
We may not think that children know what is going on and are not significantly affected by our actions when around them (and this includes our thoughts and subsequent emotions), but this is most certainly not the case. However, they are not conscious of it in the way an adult would be. When we involve them in our issues (such as our inability to control our emotions) the thoughts they use to construct their minds will have a higher degree of uncertainty and more conflicts. This is because they do not have a sufficiently developed mind to understand what is going on.
When we get angry with a young child we may blame them for it and in so doing we are lying to them. Why? We are lying because no one can make us angry; we choose or perhaps more aptly allows ourselves to become anger. The child does not even have to understand the words or what is actually going on but they do perceive the energy of the thoughts and emotions. At a high level they know that they are not responsible for the others anger and that there is something not “right” with what they are being told. This is because the energy of the truth does not match the energy of what is spoken. So while the child’s mind may be undeveloped and they do not consciously know what the truth is, they are aware at some level they are not getting it. Regardless of the lack of truth, their minds will integrate the experiences. This leads to them to doubt themselves, and even feelings of guilt and blame and so on without understand why.
Children learn from such experiences. Precisely what they learn is impossible to determine for once again the attributes of the child will play a role, but what they do learn is, among other things, that people are dishonest. This also means that they will question even truthful statements as potential lies. When their mind integrates the experience it will try to determine such things as why they might have lied, what the truth might be and what their role is in it and how it may affect them and so forth. The problem is a child’s mind has very little information to go on and so it will create thoughts about why, justifications for lying and so on that are almost invariably “wrong”. They learn that lying is okay if one can justify it to themselves.
We see exactly the same thing occurring when parents tell their children what a great job they did even when they may not have put in any real effort. They do it usually in a mistaken attempt to bolster their children’s self confidence or to try to make them feel better about an outcome and so on. They actually do a disservice to them as once again the child knows they are being lied to and when they integrate the experience it is likely they will consider why they would. This will lead to the creation of thoughts such as such as half an effort gets you praise, there is no need to put out a full effort, my parents are easily fooled or do not really care how well I do, appearances matter more than what I do or they don’t care if I actually accomplish anything and so on. If your child is not motivated as you would like aggressive attempts to change them are unlikely to have the results parents desire.
Yes, parents mean well, however they are unaware of the impact of such acts on their child’s developing mind. Parents also affect the development of their child’s minds by sharing their own irrational fears, their wants and needs, guilt’s and blames, their prejudices and stereotypes, what they like and do not like for example. The child will take these on though how they will integrate them into their own minds depending on the kernel I referred to as well as how they have integrated what they experienced up to that point. Some children will continue resist this while most will go with it.
One part of the problem is that adults appear to make assumptions about the capabilities of children, which is natural as most are only aware of their physicality, and barely so, and are not aware of what we really are nor what our mind is and how it develops. Some of the mistaken assumptions regarding children are:
- Born with the ability to reason and think
- Able to apply what we know to different circumstances
- Consciously choose to do what we do
- Able to remember and understand why something is “right or wrong” when told
- Able to differentiate between right and wrong
- Are able to consciously associate an action with an outcome
None of the above statements are true though I’ve had numerous discussions with parents who adamantly believe some or all of them are. Adults are working with a mind that has already been created, children are just building theirs. Yet, adults project the capabilities of a developed mind upon children as young as three or four years old. Some parents even do so when they are even younger.
While a child’s mind has the potential or inherent capability to reason and think the skill to do so is learned. Their minds are not developed and so the thoughts manifested by their reactions to experiences go directly into constructing their minds. As a result many of their thoughts are weakly connected. The adult mind has developed all kinds of relationships between thoughts so they can infer “things” based on many experiences. A child is unable to do this for these connections are not inherent, they must be built up through experience.
Adults tend to expect children to understand what they are saying or trying to say even when they lack the mind and therefore the language to actually understand what was being said. Children are sponges and everything they take in affects how their mind develops in one manner or another. This does not mean they are capable of evaluating and understanding them. What they need more than anything is clarity and less ambiguity as this helps them to build their minds with less conflicting beliefs and ideas.
The idea that people, even children should know better is a fallacy. It is similar to the notion of sin and that being told something is “wrong”, even with explanations as to why, is sufficient for them to understand. It is not. The following passage from The Inner Life (by C.W. Leadbeater) speaks to this notion:
‘One of the most serious of the many misconceptions which we have inherited from the dark ages is that what is called “sin” is a perversity to be met with punishment and savage persecution, instead of what it really is, the result of a condition of ignorance that can only be dealt with by enlightenment and education. It may be objected that in daily life we constantly see people doing what they must know to be wrong, but this is a misstatement of the case. They are doing what they have been told is wrong, which is quite a different matter.
If a man really knows that an action is wrong, and that it will inevitably be followed by evil consequences, he is careful to avoid it. A man really knows that fire will burn him; therefore he does not put his hand into it. He has been told that the fire of hell will burn him as the result of a certain action-- say playing cards on a Sunday-- but he does not really know this, and therefore when he feels the inclination to play cards he does so in spite of the threatened consequences. It will be found that everyone who does wrong justifies the wrong action to himself at the time of its commission, whatever he may think about it afterwards in cold blood. So I say that sin as ordinarily understood is a figment of the theological imagination; what really exists is an unfortunate condition of ignorance which often leads to infraction of the divine Law. This ignorance it is our duty to endeavour to dispel ....”
The mind functions best when it is guided by a strong, objective, attentive and reasoning conscious mind and when it lacks conflicting beliefs and rigidity. We can minimize the former by reducing our tendency to observe superficially (such as believing things based on anecdotal evidence and recognizing that correlation isn’t causation) and use valid reasoning. I have covered this at length, notably in the Awakening Our Gifts series. In part two of that series (2) I stated:
“Our apparent ability to believe things that don’t make sense may lead one to think that our minds do not act in a “logical” manner. But this idea rests on the notion that logic is a quality of mind. This is not the case. The mind is certainly capable of logical thought, but this skill must be learned. The mind does not apply logic when it integrates experiences unless we have trained it too. It only integrates our experiences based on such things as commonality with existing thoughts and do so in the manner we have taught or trained it to. The integration process is the same way every time, but without training the mind will not validate whether the thoughts we have about something are true, consistent or ordered in any way. We can believe something to be true and act upon that belief even if we are mistaken, if we have made that belief more important to us than the truth about it”
We help our mind develop more fully when we maintain an active imagination and curiosity and when we continue to try new things and never assume something to be “absolutely true". I covered this in Part 2 of the series as well. These are the kinds of things we want to be conscious of when dealing with children whether our own or those of others as we all know that a child’s mind is pliable and subject to manipulation even unintended.
People often attempt to manipulate children in a way that they believe will help them; however, it is not likely that they are not doing this, regardless of how well intended. We have no way to know what the eventual outcome of any of our choices for our children will be despite any beliefs we may hold to the contrary. What we do know is that we are giving with one hand, in terms of the guidance we are trying to provide, and we are taking away with the other by feeding their developing minds false and misleading information. The connected nature of our minds means that they will apply the “misunderstanding” they learn from such experiences to future experiences that share anything in common with it. This is how issues are built and grow over time.
If we want to raise children in a way that affords them the best opportunity to be clear minded, positive and loving then we need to consider what affects their initial development, how it is influenced and the role we play in either helping or hindering them. Naturally the age of children affects how we guide and assist them. Younger children have not developed their minds sufficiently to communicate with verbally and older will have already challenges to deal with due to whatever poor programming they have already taken on.
In considering what we should be doing to help children develop we need to consider the four main aspects of self. These aspects are:
To look at these requirements we start simple, namely we look at the fundamental aspects of our existence. By this I am referring to the above list. Each of these areas requires development and none should be ignored. We need to be attentive to all of these aspects and since we all struggle to varying degrees with these ourselves we must become more conscious of our own issues in the moment.
The big question is “How do we do this?” It certainly is not easy to do, at least not for most of us. Essentially what we must do is try to get closer to “living or being in the moment”, which we should do anyways, especially when we are interacting with younger children. We need to be honest with them, and where they will not understand the language we must find a way of communicating the truth to them in a way they will understand or leave it for another time. Further, we must accept 100% responsibility for our feelings and reactions and never blame them on a child. They are not responsible for our feelings or our reactions as that responsibility lies solely with us. When we lie to them, even white lies, when we try to make them responsible for our feelings and reactions, we are hindering them despite what one might think to the contrary and are teaching them to lie.
Physically we must encourage children to be active, to not let their bodies go to waste. They are capable of so much be it sports, dance, learning a physical skill such as fixing things or playing an instrument and so on. We must also encourage them to be connected to the world, to get out into nature and enjoy doing so, to experience the joy of self expression through their physicality. This means we need to help and guide them so that they learn to be comfortable with their bodies and to develop their abilities to use their bodies.
Children need to play and try things out, to test the abilities of their bodies. We should not restrict their physical activities to any significant degree, except to guide them to activities that do not endanger their lives or their long term health. Parents should try to not let their fears about what could happen to their children deprive them of experiences that will help them mature. Children will play and they will get hurt, we need to accept some of this as it is essential that we not pass on our fears to them. Just because we did something and got hurt doing it does not mean they will. This means we need to encourage physical activity and be there with them, especially when they are younger, so that we can assist them in developing a healthy approach to physical activity.
I was allowed to play by myself from a very young age and learned to do all kinds of things without fear. At times I reached beyond my limitations, and my mom was concerned for me, but she allowed it as she knew that I needed to test myself and in so doing learn. She’d cringe when I’d climb high up in a tree, but also saw that I had the skills and good sense to be aware of my situation. We do not develop such awareness’s by being told, we only learn by observing others and by doing things ourselves. Yes, we can share our concerns with them, explain to them what the dangers are and observe them to reduce their chances of getting hurt, but we should not prevent them from trying as doing so only helps them to program their minds with artificial limits.
Another aspect of our physicality is our appearance. We all know how judgmental people are and how children will pick on each other for any perceived physical “flaws” or lack of ability. We cannot change how our children look and appear, but we can help them with their self-confidence so that they understand that what others think of them does not matter, it is what they think of themselves that does. This also means teaching them to not judge others for their appearance or physical attributes. Respect is a two way street and so we must also show this in our own actions in relation to others so that children see this behaviour in us. This is of course tied to their mental and emotional maturity, but I wanted to touch on this here as it does relate to their physicality.
The role adults play in a child’s development is enormous and this is most prominent in the other three areas. Part of the challenge we face in helping them in this area is that we have our own poor programming which affects how we act and react to experiences in general let alone those involving children. Further, every family situation is different and as a result the challenges faced vary dramatically. Yet, this aside we need to accept some fundamental notions about being parents, namely that we do not own them. We are their protectors, teachers, guides even their friends; however, they are not our property to do with as we choose.
Ideally every child will have an unconditionally loving and caring family, parents who are devoted to helping them develop and who are not only honest but whom also take full responsibility for themselves and their circumstances. Unfortunately this rarely happens. I mean no disrespect to parents by stating this, it is just reality. We are not perfect so it is inevitable that our children will take on some of our imperfections. This should not deter us; it should motive us to work on ourselves so that we can be good role models. We need to be consistent in this as well so that children see us dealing with things appropriately as much as possible. When we are not we should be honest with our children and admit that we made a mistake or could have done something differently than we did. This helps their minds to develop with less limitations and blocks.
Another way we create limitations for children is through the use of punishment as a tool for teaching. Punishment can be done though physical, emotional or mental means. These range from spankings, to emotional blackmail to mental abuse. We mistakenly think that the child will properly associate what we see as their actions with the consequences or punishment even though this rarely happens. They may learn to act differently to avoid the punishment; this does not mean they have actually learnt the lesson. In addition, we will have helped them to create poor mental programming.
We punish children for many reasons, and justify them as being in the best interests of the child; however, I do not buy this one bit. We punish them for many different reasons such as we are impatient, in a hurry, feel it is justified, they deserve it and so on. The reality is we do this because we do not know how to deal with it. With all due respect to parents who do this, it is a tool used by the weak. When we do this we are simply passing on our weakness and our issues to them.
Helping our children develop emotionally is directly tied to their mental development. This is because our emotions are the result of our thoughts. We do not feel angry then have an angry thought, unless the emotional energy comes from without. We have the thought first and the emotions follow. Hence, we add to their challenges when we do not teach them how to reason and think logically before determining what to do. If we do these things ourselves children will see it in action and learn how to do it from us.
We also indoctrinate them in one belief structure or another such as societal standards or a religion before they have the mind to think for themselves. While I expect some may object to my stating this, do notice I referred to religion and not spirituality. Parents tend to believe in the idea that strict conformity to societal or a religion standard is a good thing and they want their children to hold the same beliefs as them. I see it as child abuse.
Society craves conformity; this is because people become accustomed to “things being a certain way” and get uncomfortable when put outside their comfort zone. We are not helping children by forcing them to conform to arbitrary standards; I believe this is one factor that has kept us locked into the past. I am not suggesting that standards are of no value, only that we have allowed far too many and they are confining. If we feel a certain standard is of value then we need to explain why we think so to our children and not simply say “that’s the way it is”. Yes, there can be challenges for those who step outside the norm, however, not doing so restricts us and creates arbitrary and artificial boundaries.
Religion is another area where I believe we fail our children. We indoctrinate them into our belief structure because we see it as “the truth” and it is to be obeyed or even perhaps that it is valuable to them. If this is the case then we should be able to explain why it is the truth, should be obeyed and is valuable and not simply force them to be good and obedient and to do as they are told.
In terms of religions, the truth is that there is only one underlying truth for all and no one religion has all encompassing truths despite claims by many of their followers to the contrary. Further, religious books such as the Bible, Quran, Vedas, Talmud or the Bhagavad Gita and so on are not to be taken as literal truths, it wasn’t written by God, it was written by men who are fallible and like everyone else have their own issues. One is to contemplate them, meditate on them and not simply accept what is written as literal truths. So when we force our interpretations of them on our children before they are able to understand the difference between literal and figurative we are feeding their minds information from a bias perspective and they simply are not able to processing the information properly.
For instance, if you ask one hundred people who have the same view of their religion to explain God and the nature of our existence you will get one hundred different answers, many so vague that they are useless as a “definition”. Now, if you teach children arithmetic they will all come up with the same answer of 4 to the question of what is “2+2” (mistakes aside). If the religious texts were literal then you would expect at least some of the one hundred people to have the same answer.
Indoctrinating children in a particular belief structure is what led to people to, for a very long time, believe that earth was flat and that it was the center of the Cosmos and the heavens revolved around it but had no clue why that might be the case and never applied any critical though to it. They were fed the notions and wouldn’t question them. We see this today in that nearly half of American’s actually believe the Cosmos is only 6,000 years old despite overwhelming evidence and even what I consider to be self-evident facts to the contrary. It has also led to the condemnation of those who are viewed as acting in a manner contrary to scripture. We see this in issues of sexuality and in arbitrary class structures such as you see in India and other countries (and to a lesser extent such things divisions due to wealth, looks or intellect) Their minds are simply not able to get past what was drilled into them as children.
While I personally feel that religion as it has been practised and handed down over the generations as doing more harm than good, I do not say this to come down on religion. Nor am I stating that one shouldn’t involve their children in church or religious activities, only that they should not force their children to accept beliefs as facts before they are able to even think about them. They should encourage their children to question things rather than to accept them out of hand; this is what leads to a well developed mind. I’ve had many conversations with parents around this topic and often get one of several answers. First that their holy book is the literal truth and the word of God and is not to be questioned, or that their children’s person or even souls are at risk if they do not follow the tenets of a particular faith or they have said they are not knowledgeable enough to answer their questions adequately. However, this is no reason to not allow them to ask questions, this is a reason for the parents to learn more or direct their children to resources where they can learn more and to talk with them and not at them about such things.
There is a lot of great wisdom to be found in any of the major religious texts, the problem is finding it among all the dogma and wading through a multitude of interpretations. By dogma I mean “A principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true”. If people were able to do that then there wouldn’t be so many different denominations within the Christian faith. In terms of children this means forcing them to take on and accept beliefs that they cannot verify, do not understand and cannot consider adequately.
Another area where we do a disservice to our children is by indoctrinating them in various ways into society. We tell them they need to get focused, to conform to societal standards many of which are arbitrary and which perpetuate much of what challenges us. By this I mean passing on such things as guild, blame, judgments, dishonesty and so on. We also have strong tendencies to push them to pick something that we see for them as an occupation when they grow up or steer them down a path of our choosing long before they have any idea what is possible, or what kind of things they might find they like as they grow up. The burden of presupposing what they might become has the effect of restricting their minds and cutting them off from options.
Parents also try to control what ideas their children are exposed to as they worry that their children might take on ideas that can lead to harm or cause them to break with standards and traditions and so forth. If you teach your children good values they do not need the extra censoring. Parents fail to realize that they are actually hampering or “harming” their developing minds by doing this. This is very important as children need to be free to take on ideas without become married to them. Nothing kills a mind faster than making it rigid and fixed, something my father always tried to encourage even if he wasn’t entirely successful at it. My father, though not religious, encouraged us read the Bible as well as other important works by great scholars and to talk with our father about them. In addition, restricting children from certain thoughts, ideas and so forth can actually encourage them, because of curiosity or rebelliousness, to check out what has been forbidden or denied to them.
For example, I credit a great deal of my intelligence to my father. When I was very young, less than seven years old, my father would bring home pieces of equipment from the plant and present them to my siblings and myself. We had no way of knowing what it was yet he would ask us such things as “What do you think this is for?” or “What do you think this does?” He wasn’t looking for an answer. He wanted us to use our curiosity to explore the object and then our imagination to try to come up with what its purpose might be or even what it could be used for.
There was no right answer, just an exercise to help our minds develop. He understood that once the mind “knows” something it tends to cling to it even when it might not be correct or is no longer so. I spoke about this in the essay “The Makings of Mind” (Part 2 of the Awakening Our Gifts Series)(2) where I shared the following:
“When you think and before you state something, ask yourself, “How do I KNOW this to be true?”
- Question rather than simply accepting things at "face value"
- Do not jump to conclusions
- Always assume you could be wrong
- Hold no absolutes
- Listen with the intent to understand
- Avoid judging (this does not mean avoid deciding)
"By doing these things, even in part, we will start to clear up the clutter; we start to unravel our puzzle box (6), and develop the tools to work on the backlog of poor programming we have developed over the years.”
Our children should be taught rational and logical thinking, unfortunately this is not done in our school system and most parents know little about it themselves. This should not stop us from encouraging our children to think about things before doing them, to consider whether their ideas are valid logically or not. For example, two of the most common errors people make in logical arguments are what are referred to as ad hominem arguments and basing ideas on anecdotal evidence. When we make an ad hominem argument we are tying the properties of a person to what they say. For instance, if someone is known to be involved in activities people do not approve of then they may question what they say simply because of the person perceived character. This is not only the wrong approach, it is poor reasoning. We should validate what they say BEFORE and not base our opinion of their words simply on their character.
As for anecdotal arguments, we find people often using them in discussions around climate change. For instance, saying that it is cold where we are so obviously the world isn’t warming is a false conclusion. Weather is local, climate is not. What is happening here is not necessarily what is happening everywhere and you cannot logically extend a local observation to the entire world. Anecdotal evidence is also the source of much of the stereotyping we do. For instance if we distrust people with long hair we will apply this distrust to everyone with long hair regardless of their level of honesty.
I have spoken about the first three aspects in the list, the last one is spirituality. This is not something that is easy to teach mostly because it is such a broad area. In Wikipedia, the definition of spirituality is:
Spirituality is the concept of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the "deepest values and meanings by which people live."
You cannot teach children to become spiritual; you can only encourage and support their understanding and exploration of it. I believe that taking a spiritual approach to life leads to greater balance, harmony, clear thinking and will improve the way we interact with each other. I was raised with the Protestant work ethic which states, more or less that “it is not what society owes us, it is what we owe society”. What he meant is that no person is an island and we depend on each other for various things. It was also his way of saying that we should be seeking to act in a way that serves to benefit the whole and not just ourselves.
We are not separate from each other and we affect each other in profound ways. To ignore this is to be blinded to who and what we are. The fact that most do not feel a sense of connection to nature or to each other does not mean such a connection does not exist. In the essay “The One and the All” (Part 5 of the Awakening Our Gifts Series (3)) I stated:
“Generally speaking ones circle of caring is limited to friends and family with whom we have developed strong trusting relationships, though it can also include people such as those whose ideas we feel aligned with. The average person’s circle of caring is small; many include only a few dozen people at most. If one wants to expand their awareness the circle has to expand as well. To do this we must reduce the reasons we use to not love or care for others such as we do not like, we do not know them, they are mean people, they are different, they are from another country, and they do not believe what I do and so on.
The reason we want to expand our circle is relatively simple, the growth of our awareness is tied to our ability to be open to others and to love without conditions. If I am not unconditional with people then I am judging them, not only that it is my ego that is judging them so by doing such things we empower our ego which is the exact opposite of what we want to do. We judge everything to a certain extent, but we judge those outside more than those within. As a result, clarity of perception is reduced, and such judging is a conditional action and conditionality is by definition restricting.”
If children are taught that they should show respect for others, to care for and to love them without conditions then their minds will be freed from the blocks and filters that lead to so much ignorance in the world. It will also help to reduce the amount of lower emotions we generate and which is the source of so many of our problems. I grant you that it is not easy to do this because we have these same challenges ourselves. But if we really want our children to be the best they can be and to live good and happy lives then this is an essential component. We should try to develop these traits in ourselves and work on them with our children. This way the child will see that it is important, that it has value and will be far more likely to take on this approach themselves.
First and foremost among our responsibilities to our children, beyond providing necessities, is to be as unconditional and attentive as we can be, and by attentive I do not mean doting. Doting over children leads to problems just as too little attention does. We must pay attention to our children for they have their whole lives ahead of them. By our choices in their regard we can make their lives harder or easier, more free and open or more restrictive and give them the gift of personal freedom and clarity rather than being bound to the past. This means we should not put our needs before theirs unless our needs directly affect them such as having enough money to pay the bills.
By this I do not mean that we give ourselves up for them, only that we pay close attention to them, to what is going on with them and to their needs. We must never treat them as an afterthought, ignore their needs or assume that they can make do with less of our time and attention. Being a parent often means making sacrifices for our children. Adhering to this means parents often have to make choices between their own wants and needs and those of their children. We do not have to give up all that we are for our children, but we do have to be mindful of balancing our needs and theirs. If our children’s needs are being paid attention and we are open in our communications with them they will learn to reciprocate this.
What I have spoken of is of most relevant to all ages of children; however, if one is dealing with an older child who has not had such a background then helping them to work past the issues they may have developed is certainly a challenge. In this situation we need to help them to grow past them and this can require a great deal of patience, love and effort. Both child and parent will have to learn new skills and ways of approaching situations and dealing with them. I will examine this in upcoming essays and will focus on what children can do themselves to make this happen. That said, while parents likely have to take on further responsibility to aid their children there is much a child can do to help.
With this in mind, taking it from a child’s perspective, we will look at such things as the following:
- Ways to help them understand their developing mind and emotional self
- Ways to consider and think about what is perceived and experienced
- Suggestions on noticing and managing their reactions
- Some simple exercises to help develop needed skills in:
- Energy management
Whether one is the adult or the child, there are things that one can learn to help deal with issues as they arise. I spent years struggling with issues myself. While I still have challenges I found ways to resolve most of the conflicts, anger issues and so forth that plagued me for years. While some of the techniques I used were based on energy work and are not something one can learn to do by simply reading about them, there are a number I can share and will do so with the hope that they will help others to do the same.
© 2012 Allan Beveridge