Sharing Life with Your Children
As a new mother (1.5 years), I wonder how to bring up children in a Taoist way? There are so many opinions, traditional, more modern etc. What is the best or what to avoid and how to bring up the child in harmony with Tao?
Thanks for any hints, I do understand that many aspects will be purely personal and up to the two of us (me and my daughter) to discover…
Teaching Children Taoism
By living to good humor.
By showing children it’s good to be themselves.
By being flexible yet holding firm to what you feel is important as a parent.
By being relaxed and laughing when everything goes crazy and sideways.
Teaching kindness of the heart and in kindness, we are all connected.
If you teach these things
Then you will reveal to your children the Tao and Harmony.
It’s possible to teach scriptures and other pre-defined aspects of any religion. But such words are meaningless to a younger child. They will only be a parrot to you when teaching scripture. Teaching children comes out of the opposite perspective from teaching yourself. They don’t have your connections yet to give abstract scriptures an honest meaning. They look to us as parents initially for perspective. So don’t teach words to parrot. Rather teach children life, in action, in laughter and in exploring from your point of view.
I have children; I know how hard it is juggling a thousand things and trying to make sure they have a bright future. Some days it’s all you can do just to keep oneself up and to move in the daze. So don’t hurt yourself, any hurt you do to yourself, you do to your children. Teaching kindness is to also practice kindness for yourself as much as for your children. Relax and give yourself a chance to be a real person. That’s Taoism!
Also accept your child for their nature, instead of trying to force who they should be. We can teach our children, can teach them the boundaries of others and society: But that doesn’t mean to force them into a shape either.
So remember in teaching children:
Kindness and acceptance is the key and core to Taoism.
I don’t teach my children anything from books or what is written: They will have enough time to figure out what words will have meaning later in life. Right now it’s most important for them to learn about you, what you love, how you live so that they can know you fully. It’s important to show them the connection to your life, so they know love and can later reach out to others in connection.
Then later as the world changes, as it does every day, they will be ready for everything and know the Tao as their life.
If you do that, then you will be a greater teacher than any Taoist Master, they will discover wonders you never even could guess, because you would have shared in laughter and life with them fully, for good and bad, for smiles and tears and it all rolls up into who we are as a family.
Now the swinging bridge
is quieted with creepers
like our tendrilled life
We often hide and tie down our childhood
in shadows and duty.
Reclaim the innocence of play
to new joy here and now.
So many angles to consider as a parent. One interesting aspect is this, don’t lose yourself when you are a parent.
Be True to Yourself as a Parent
As a parent, we often become a different person. Instead of being in “your” main story, you will find yourself now in the “parent” story. Often when in the parent story, we channel other people’s stories. It’s all too easy to become your mother, father or another unexpected authority figure. Many people do act differently around their children. Even stranger is that the average person won’t even notice they change who they become around their child.
The answer is to pause. Pause a lot when working with children. Allow yourself to take a moment to step out of being in autopilot and ask yourself if what you are saying or doing a true reflection of who you are, or what you want to teach the child.
Often a person is so focused on being a parent; it’s easy to miss the opportunity to work on yourself.
Consider this possibility:
If you are getting frustrated as a parent, sometimes it’s because you’re not being true to yourself! If you’re indeed repeating your parent’s stories as a parent yourself, that often creates inner conflicts for you to deal with and then you unknowingly are pushing it as a battle to your child!
If you pause when frustrated as a parent, you can catch yourself channeling cultural or other outside influences. At this moment it becomes possible to change your approach and develop your personal style of being a parent.
It can be hard to release being like your father or mother, when after it has been beaten into you to be like them! Many people think the rage, or frustration or agenda they are feeling is their own rather than their parents or grandparents! It takes five generations to remove family problems because of this channeling behavior!
Keep in mind; I am only showing you one aspect of how to work with your children and yourself! Don’t be afraid to take these ideas and go further. You will be surprised at how it can improve your parenting experience.
The Last Word of Kindness
Finally, when frustrated or feeling inadequate as a parent, flip the experience around by taking time to be kind. It doesn’t always have to be a fight. If you are feeling inadequate, it can be from measuring yourself to an unreasonable expectation and are fighting your true goals or pushing someone else’s behaviors.
I think for me what has worked best for being with children: is always to respect them. Never to think of them as too young or too old, but to accept them as a human being and do my best to talk as an equal concerning another human soul.
To work with them, not as you expect them to be nor hope them to be, but as who they are in the current moment that they are in. Children don’t live in the past or future: they live in the moment… something we need always to be aware of.
Yes, sometimes a child might act in fear from a past event, and during those times we can help them patiently find again the here and present. All in all, unless someone has taught the child to live in fear, most children will stay in the present.
What I have learned is being present is much easier to do with children who are not yours. With your own children, this becomes harder to do. I think this is due to expectations and judgments. We want so much more for our children, and we forget, that yes while we can help them become more, it must always be done with a patient, modest and nonjudgmental steps. Of course, if you are the person who cannot be present for themselves, you won’t be able to be present for anyone else. So many times the first step to being a better parent is simply to slow down yourself and center your own life to be more respectful to yourself.
If you are not centered or present in yourself, your children will only reflect you: as they are in part you. This mirror can bring out pain or the worse from some parents. Being a parent isn’t easy, and it’s made harder when you are hard upon yourself.
I will confess being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done, you feel as if you can never be good enough, or do enough… but in reality just being present is enough.
Gods, I know from personal experience it’s hard to present fully with my children, that it hurts each time when I mess up. This is not something to be ashamed of, but instead to accept and use as steps to grow into a better person. So we need to be kind to ourselves also if we are to be kind to our children. So forgive yourself and rework at being respectful. No one has more patience for you than your own children if you give them the chance to be present and patient.
Being present is being kind when raising children.
Impress into your children how to be kind rather than your frustration, and you will change the future and remove out karmic family problems.
Of course, I have to have one live version with Nash singing it.