There are jobs we only do once, or a couple or few times. By the time we gain any wisdom, that part of the job is over. So it is with parenting.
‘Society’ is little more than a set of ideas that we subconsciously—but tacitly—agree on. When people think of ‘parenting,’ they generally think about teaching kids to work in groups by making the personal sacrifices necessary to ‘colour between the lines.’
These shared lessons are important in any society where cooperation is key. And it makes sense for a person to help themselves by helping others. That said, we must also remember that we are also unique and independent beings that have needs of our own.
Parents can get so caught up in training the ‘citizen’ in their child, that they forget that the child is also a playful soul that is here to live its lifetime. Most of my once-depressed clients got excellent behaviour-related parenting, from parents that loved them.
Despite that context, they were generally raised to be polite and to avoid embarrassment. But many suffer because they’re only good at doing, not being. This is largely because they are uncertain about whether or not they are truly valued for who they are, rather than what they do.
This often happens because parents get so caught up in directing ‘behaviour’ that they forget about the joys of living. We teach them how to work and how to fit in, but we forget they need chances to joyfully ‘be’ themselves as well. Otherwise, what is the point of living?
Of course, parents only over-care about these issues because people tend to rather boldly criticize other’s parenting. But when they do so, they are almost always referring to ‘drawing outside the lines’ type of violations.
Using only that measuring stick, kids end up being defined as ‘too’ noisy, or ‘too’ messy, or ‘too’ unfocused, or maybe they talk ‘too’ much. But how much is ‘too much?’ These are all thought-based personal judgments that limit human freedom.
Many great musicians start their process by just making noise. A lot of ‘messy’ kids are actually creative in that they don’t mind mixing ideas that other good people work hard to keep separate. Being ‘unfocused’ can have more to do with the task than a person’s ability to focus. And there is no right or wrong amount of talking to do.
It is helpful if our fellow citizens try to be quiet in libraries, or drive according to the rules, or that they don’t lie or cheat others. But that does not mean that kids don’t also need lessons in freedom, relaxation, courage, creativity, openness, spontaneity and love.
Yes. Teach your children to live in this thought-based world of laws, rules, guidelines and norms. That’s an important part of being part of a larger pack of people that can assist and enrich our survival.
At the same time, we must not forget to also teach children to maintain their sense of wonder, confidence and creativity. And there is absolutely nothing greater we can do for children than to help them stay in touch with the fact that they are loved, and that the world is abundant with wonder and opportunity.
Parents: the next time you feel the need to offer a correction, or to teach a lesson about behaviour, ask yourself how long it’s been since you shared a laugh with your child? Or when was the last time you forgave them gracefully? Or when was the last time you prioritized their leadership over yours?
Kids are amazing. Think of the world 200 years ago and think of how remarkable it is today, with its disease-cures and trips to Mars. That was all done by former children, and all had imperfect parents who thought they got it wrong. So relax, have more fun, and trust your child’s good nature. That’s the best way to have them recognize it too.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.