Parenting is one of my favorite subjects and it is probably so because I see how many parents have trouble understanding the basic concept of what it entails. Being a parent is a privilege and not a duty or a chore as it often is conveyed by choice of words or grimace on the face. Practically, you don’t need to have children if you don’t want to, it is not mandatory, so if you don’t think you may enjoy it, leave it to others.
From spiritual point of view we don’t choose our offspring, we are chosen as parents by our children. They choose us to learn through a specific set of circumstances and life experiences that will prepare them for this particular venture on Earth. As each of us comes equipped with a luggage of emotional problems we had inherited from our parents we will likely play these out while parenting our children.
|Ania’s original art inspired by Hokusai|
Being a parent is a responsibility but shouldn’t be considered a chore that has to be done. There needs to be something joyful about bringing a new life to this world and making that life a happy one. We are not to punish and toughen up our children, we are here to guide them through life learning, choices and offer the best we can. By offering I don’t mean showering them with material gifts although there is nothing wrong with gift giving in general. As I understand it, my role is to prepare my children for life in the best way I can. Given my life circumstances, I believe I am able to provide my children with what they need from me as their mother. The basics like food, warm and clean environment are obvious and need not to mentioned. As a mother I offer them unconditional love, no matter what they do. Unconditional love is not based on fear and repercussions if a child doesn’t behave the way I deem appropriate. Hitting, yelling, using offensive language, emotional blackmail are not tools to use when you are merely a guide, a helper to a young and vulnerable being. There are numerous discussions about whether using corporal punishment works and why it works. Yes, it works, it makes a child obey his parents out of fear, there is often no understanding and true compliance. If you are forced by parents to obey, you obey because you have to. There is a huge difference in raising children without resorting oneself to such measures. If you are able to speak to their higher self using gentler methods they will listen to you and do so because they respect you, your opinion and values. Unconditional love towards children is love regardless of what they say or do.
How did I come to this? When my first daughter was born, even though she was a tiny little being, I could sense a strong spirit inside her little body. She was born with eyes wide open and unlike other newborns she wasn’t drowsy at all. She stared at me and other objects with a gaze that was indicating she was actually seeing and comprehending. Two days after her birth I was showing her my brightly colored oil paintings on the wall and letting her listen to my favorite music. She was definitely showing sings of interest and enjoyment. I never doubted that she was an intelligent and sensitive person, in fact, I trusted her body language and treated her as a whole person. I never used baby talk, I spoke to her using simple language and tried to explain what I was going to do and why. I regarded her as a person, not a dumb baby, even though she wasn’t always capable of demonstrating her understanding, I knew she did.
When my children were still in diapers I used to inform them that I was about to change their diaper instead of yanking them on a changing table without a warning. As they were a little older, I would ask their permission to do so. I never used reward/punishment system. If simple words didn’t work I wasn’t going to revert to using stickers or other things to get my child comply. I understood that using such tricks doesn’t produce long term results and diminishes child’s self-esteem. If they do things for stickers they don’t understand the core of their actions. I would have my daughters grow up to understand certain things later rather than have them comply without understanding and real consequences of their actions. My main philosophy while raising children is being patient, compassionate and kind towards them.
My task is to make my children understand the choices they have and what are the consequences of each one. Basically, it means I am to enlighten them what their options are because children often don’t even realize what is available out there. I am to familiarize them with the plethora of possibilities awaiting them. Let’s say that my child is gifted in art, my job would be then to expose her to a variety of techniques, styles in art, offer her classes to deepen her knowledge and guide her through the process of self-discovery, searching for her own uniqueness. All that while making sure she covered the basics of other subjects, too.
The second part of equation is to ensure she knows that each decision brings the consequences. They may be pleasant or not, depending on her choice. My part in her growing up is making sure she takes the responsibility for her own actions as early as possible.
At the end, you are raising a person that is the closest to you as it gets. If your relationship with your child blossoms you may expect her to come to you in times of need. If you created a bond, a bond of mutual trust and respect, your child will be there for you …Even if her opinions differ from yours.