Sunday, September 4, 2011
When I was growing up my parents taught my siblings and I to always ask permission. We had to ask permission to go in the fridge, out with a friend, out on a bike ride, away on a trip, out shopping etc… This Summer, JC who’s 12 years old and one of ET’s 4th cousin has been spending some of time at the house. I noticed how many times he had to check in with his mother or father to ask permission.
“Can I go out for an ice cream?”
“Can I go out to the market?”
“Can I stay over for supper, can I come home later, can I stay for the night, can I accept a gift from these people etc….”
It seemed the list was endless. As I observed JC I noticed certain behaviors, which accompanied the “request for permission.” For example just before asking his parents for permission the boy always gets nervous, anxious and somewhat excited as if the expectation gives him access to some kind of forbidden abundance. If the response is “yes” the excitement doubles and the boy is fit to be tied. If it’s a “no” JC becomes angry, disappointed, sad and even bitter. He’s suddenly no longer present to us and wants to leave or return home. If we ask him to stay and enjoy other activities around the house he feels “wanted” at first; and then acts out negatively for the remainder of his stay. It seems one way or another JC’s reactions cheat him from actually welcoming any kind of result of beauty and abundance.
One night at supper it was JC who actually came out with the observation that KT and CT (our kids) never ask us for permission.
“Why is that?” he asked as if he had given the topic a lot of thought.
JC listened intently as I explained to him that most parents bring up their children in the same manner in which they are brought up. It was clear I didn’t want to undermine the boy’s parents and their choices. In the end, I just encouraged JC to follow his own heart and make changes when his time would come to be a dad.
The Medicine Wheel teaches us to “empower the people” around us and since we were learning this lesson when the kids were babies it just made sense to us to include them in the learning. When CT or KT would look up at us for reassurance or confirmation we didn’t assume it meant “making choices for them.” Until that moment with JC -- I don’t think either ET or me realized how life impacting such a small decision in upbringing could be.
We teach our children to walk, to talk, to hold utensils and to tie their shoes. Why don’t we teach them to be strong, to be patient, to be clear, to introspect or even to touch?
Usually we don’t teach them because “we don’t know ourselves.” We repeat what we’ve been taught and most of us don’t know that we live in a BIG WORLD, which does offer all kinds of resources to learn new ways. And if we do know – most of us believe that it will take too much time, too much energy and maybe too much money to do all this learning.
How many times did I hear my parents or the parents of others say: “I’ve got responsibilities: I work and I’m tired when I get home I don’t have the time or energy to do more… And any ways if it was good enough for me it will be good enough for you.”
In our case (ET and me) we didn’t find it was good enough for our children. Maybe we were arrogant and judgmental or maybe we just wanted more for the kids and us. One way or the other, we found the Way of the Sacred Circle and it worked for our family. We didn’t teach the kids to ask us permission, we taught the kids how to identify what is valuable to them; how to make choices; and how to feel confident with their choices. We taught them to accept mistakes; learn from them; and do better next time. We told them that consequences are positive and negative; but not the end of the world.
“If you want to go to a friend’s house just tell me you want to go,” I would tell KT and CT “rather than ask me: CAN I?”
It is so important to teach children how to be clear and how to express themselves. You’d be surprised at how much it makes a difference in adolescence and even later on in adulthood.
“What do you think? What do you want? And you don’t have to do anything you are not ready to do…” were common and repetitive statements in our home. There is no doubt it’s difficult for a child to make choices; but the whole point of parenting is to show them how to do countless things that are difficult to do.
I get to talk to a lot of young adults because both my kids are in their 20’s and I find it horrible when I hear them say: “I’m just unlucky! Everything bad happens to me.” This kind of comment always makes me shake my head as if I just woke up from whiplash. Don’t take me wrong there are lot of horror stories out there; but honestly 75% of the time we weave and manifest our misfortune. 10% are opportunities in disguise and another 15% are vicious cycles. We often try to avoid conflict and try to get to where we want to get with the least effort. If we practice the discipline to always give it our ALL – then, the Universe in return will share some of its ALL. Abundance comes to those who are ready to receive it.
I’m always glad when some of the kids friends come back with success stories. And thank me for giving them permission to step out of the box.
Strength doesn’t come without practice and without motivation.
For some reason I have a feeling I’m all over the place in this entry. I’m not even sure there’s a main topic. Still, it’s what needed to be written down today.
No matter what you live through --- LIVE IT THROUGH FULLY.
Take care everyone.