PARENTS

DEFINITION

Parents

A father or mother; one who begets or one who gives birth to or nurtures and raises a child; a relative who plays the role of guardian

So here it is folks. The definitive guide to parenting!
Everything you’ve always wanted to know about how to be a successful parent!


You wish! Sorry for misleading you in the title, but when we become parents we want to know everything, don’t we? We haven’t got a clue what to do with this little bundle of joy when he or she arrives.

All we know is, he’s ours, and we have a responsibility to protect him, and help him grow up to be a fine upstanding member of society. So how do we do it?

Well, most people muddle through it. Some spoil their children rotten and smother them with love, and some others are guilty of no less than neglect. But most people sit somewhere in the middle, happily teaching their children to read and write, learn right from wrong, learn acceptable behaviour and non acceptable behaviour. They help them with their homework, teach them how to manage money, tell them about sex, teach them about the dangers of strangers, and generally help them to prepare for adult life.

If they have done their job well the child will happily leave the nest after the age of eighteen, only to keep coming back for money and a bit more support for many years to come! But all parents really want is for their children to be happy. Right?

Some people discipline (the act of punishing) their children physically with a smack on the bottom or worse (something that is now frowned upon in some countries), and all punish by threatening to take away privileges, toys etc. Many will also encourage with the promise of a reward if they are well behaved, and shout or send them to their room, or a “naughty corner,” if they’re not.

Hey mum, I’m not a dog

All parents want is for their children to “play nicely,” “share,” “be good,” and “don’t argue,” things that people seem to quickly forget once they get older, but then re-iterate when they have their own children.

They want them to behave and be quiet (as the old saying goes: “children should be seen and not heard”), especially when there are other adults around, because let’s face it, it’s embarrassing having a screaming child in public. Don’t worry, you can always give it some sweets or shout at it depending on what sort of mood you’re in.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard bringing up a child, it’s not all fun and games, and they can be pretty testing on your nerves, especially when you’re trying to get the shopping and you’re ladened down with bags. The last thing you want is something demanding your attention all the time.

But you love your child, and so you keep going; sometimes shouting and screaming back at him if he tests your patience. But he has to learn who’s boss, doesn’t he? He has to know you are in charge and won’t tolerate any of his nonsense. You must put your foot down and lay down the law (kind of like the government does to you) for him. He must not be allowed to get away with unacceptable behaviour. He must learn. You will make him learn.

I have told you this many times before but I used to be the proud “owner” (I don’t like that word) of a beautiful labrador puppy. He had such a cute face, and big fluffy paws, and you wanted to cuddle him all the time. But sometimes, just sometimes, I could have killed him (literally).

He used to eat my shoes, crap all over the carpet and pee anywhere, at any time. He constantly pulled on the lead, and if you locked him downstairs at night he would whine and whine. He was a real pain in the neck, but I loved him; so I kept going with him, chastising him in public by yanking his lead or giving him the occasional smack on the bottom when he did really “bad” things. But I looked after him well, I always bought him new toys to play with, and gave him a wide selection of doggy chews, and I made sure he went out for plenty of walks in the country or down by the sea which he loved.

As he got older, I didn’t have to discipline him as much. He knew if he did something wrong I would shout at him, or smack his bottom, so he calmed down a lot. I’d have to say he was turning into a really “good dog.”

“I don’t treat my child like a dog” I hear some of you shouting, “my child is not an animal, I just teach him manners, that’s all.”

But of course, you do treat your children a bit like circus animals! You teach them a few tricks and away they go, and if they don’t do what you say, you punish them.

You feed them, love them (you say), and keep them out of mischief. But what you really do is what society has been doing to you your whole life. You are controlling them.

“Nonsense, what we are doing is pointing them in the right direction” you argue. But when you control a car, don’t you “point it in the right direction.”

Do this, don’t do that, do this, no do it this way. This way. Not like that! And then you get frustrated and angry, walk off, slam a door, or shout. But all you are trying to do is point them in the right direction, right?

Do your homework. Stick in at school. Study more. Study harder.
Focus on your school work. Be polite to the teachers. Don’t argue.
Sit down. Come here. Hurry up. Be quiet.
Good dog…

And then your beloved child makes a mistake (a wrong action attributable to bad judgement or ignorance or inattention) and boy does he know it.

“Why did you do that? Hmm? Tell me? What were you thinking? Why did you behave like that?”

But as we both know, a mistake means that there is a right and a wrong, not just opinion, but who’s to say what the child did is wrong? You? Society?

“Go to your room, you’ve been a bad, bad boy! No supper for you tonight!”

Incidentally you may think I’ve got a cheek for writing about parenting when I don’t have any children of my own, but I have been a child remember? So I think that qualifies me.

“Don’t touch that, it’s hot. Don’t touch that, it’s sharp. Don’t play with those, they’re dangerous. Don’t talk to anybody you don’t know. Don’t eat that, it’s disgusting. Wash your hands. Wash your face.”

“But we’re just protecting our delicate children, every parent would do the same, it’s a dangerous world out there.”

Yes it is. All created by adults (who used to be children)

How do you think your children would get on if you just let them be.
I mean really let them be?

We stop them from exploring the world, and then when they get older, we encourage it. How confusing is that? Children are quick learners, but we must make sure they are protected at all times. We couldn’t bear it if something bad happened to them, could we? So we wrap them in cotton wool, and save them from the terrible monsters that are out there, which we in fact put into their heads by reading them scary stories (the imagination doesn’t know they are just make believe), and they grow up being afraid of the world, because we told them to “be afraid, be very afraid.” So the child does what it’s told and is afraid. Nice work!

So what would happen if you didn’t follow all the rules on parenting? What would happen if you just let your child grow up? What would happen to it? Would it be no more than a wild animal with no social skills, and if so, does that mean we aren’t the most intelligent species on the planet, we just pretend to be because of all the nice conditioning in our minds?

So go on, you tell me! What would your child be like if you didn’t shout, didn’t put him or her in the naughty corner, didn’t chastise him for making a mistake, didn’t punish him because he didn’t do what you told him, didn’t force him or her to conform to tradition and society, didn’t force him to go to school to be conditioned, and finally didn’t teach him to compete.

Perhaps life would be pretty boring for you, maybe it would be more challenging, maybe your friends, family and neighbours would ostracise you, maybe society would. Are you willing to take that chance? If so, read on, otherwise you can always use the book to throw at your kids if they’re making too much noise.

A simple silence

Thanks, I’m glad you decided to read on. All the people who put the book down at the last paragraph are going to miss out, but that’s their loss.

As people get older, they get less and less able to tolerate loud noise, and some of them (like me) even go off to monasteries for a bit of peace and quiet away from tv and advertising and cars and buses and bars and restaurants and offices and factories!

Suddenly Ssshhhh. The silence is incredible. The silence of the wind and the trees. The silence of nature. Yet it is not quiet – there is movement, but it is harmonic. There is balance. There is stillness. Now shhhhhhh. And calm your mind for a moment. Nice and calm. Breathe deeply and relax. I think we can begin.

A child is born. A wonderful screaming baby. It’s a girl, say the doctors. And you smile. What love between a mother and a baby. There is no bond like it. Such wonder and joy as you hold her safely in your arms.

Now fast forward ten years…

“Hurry up, you’re going to be late for school. Have you got your homework. Well where is it? I don’t have time for all this, I’m going to be late for work too. Oh for gods sake! Well if you can’t find it you’re not going over to your friends this evening, do you hear me (shouting up the stairs) Do you hear me!!”

Now back to the delivery room. And you hold your baby. Tired and exhausted from the hours of labour but you feel calm. God how you love this child. You will always protect her.

Now fast forward three years…. “Stop crying!!!! What’s WRONG with you? No, you can’t watch tv, no you can’t have any dessert. In fact, go to your room until you can be nice to mummy, all right?”

Now back to the delivery room. And she sleeps in a little cot next to you, her eyes tightly closed her hands tiny but perfect.

Now fast forward fifteen years… “A boyfriend, no he’s not coming over. No arguments. You’re too young to have a boyfriend. What if you get pregnant what will you do then, eh? I won’t be looking after it, I can tell you. You’ll have to leave school and you won’t be able to get a job…. No, is my final answer. Just go upstairs and do your homework.”

Now back to the delivery room, and she lets out a little yawn and her perfect little fingers and toes uncurl. What wonder in nature. What amazing creation can come from one act.

Ok, so I think you get the picture. It all starts off nice and peaceful, but as time goes on, the demands of society on you and your children take their toll; and as you are not sure what society wants from you, you conform, and you make sure your kids conform as well. After all, it’s the law.

But that’s not how it has to be, you probably know that deep in your heart as well, don’t you? We don’t want to control our children, we just want them to have a happy (law abiding) life. We just want them to do well, after all, it makes us proud. And we like to be proud, don’t we?

More silence

The one thing I have noticed about people with children, is that their houses are very, very noisy. The kids are running around shouting, the parents are shouting at the children and each other. In short, they are what you would call mildly chaotic!
“And so you see,” you say, “that’s why we have to get the children to behave, that’s why we have to use discipline, otherwise it would be even noisier.”

But have you ever considered that it is the lifestyle you have chosen by conforming to society that is creating this “chaos” in the first place? Perhaps not.

You are told that your children need stimulation in order for their brains to develop. So you constantly play games with them, and buy them artificial toys like fire engines and police cars that have wailing sirens.

As they get older, you buy them computer game consoles that have even more noise in them, and you shout at them to do their homework, and to “come down for dinner” and to “go to their room.” You take them out to play sport and more sport. You get them a hobby, then another hobby, and take them to the cinema and read books to them, and teach them maths, and shout at them to concentrate and to pay attention.

Unfortunately, what none of you seem to realise, is that in order for the brain to develop true intelligence, and gain awareness and insight it needs space, lots of it and that space is called silence.

So it all starts with you I’m afraid. You need to create a life for yourself that is calm and peaceful. How else will a child learn? And I’m not talking about learning things to pass exams at school, those are mere tools so they can get jobs and join the wheel, I am talking about them learning what it is to be human, something people think is a thing you do when you get older, once you have gone through the growing up process.

How many children learn of compassion and love?

You may say you love your children, but those are just words, I’m afraid.
How many children learn of nature in its entirety, not by reading silly school books but by being taught to observe themselves, their thoughts and their feelings and just to sit and watch?

No, that would be stupid wouldn’t it? We have to fill these young minds up as quickly as possible! There’s no time to lose. They must study and study (external things) so they can become a valued member of the society, get a good job and contribute. That is the important thing, not this new-age mumbo jumbo about being aware of yourself. “If he wants to learn that, he can, but after he’s finished his exams, he mustn’t be distracted now.”

But all a child wants to do is to explore and learn in his own time, he needs time to process the world he is living in, not have it rammed down his throat so he can get an “A plus” in his exams; do you see? It is so sad for me to stand by and watch children being created by parents into what they think the child should be, as opposed to just letting the child be.

Will you not let them be?

For parents who want their children to be quiet they seem to be going about it the wrong way. Rather than leading by example and not over stimulating their own brains, they are constantly talking and discussing and arguing all above the noise of the satellite tv or the music system.

Then they over stimulate their children by keeping them on the go all the time (it’s no wonder that adhd seems to be becoming more and more prevalent). Go, go, go, go, go, go, that’s all it ever is. Achieve, achieve, achieve, achieve. Learn, learn, learn, learn. Behave, behave, behave, behave. It’s a wonder that everyone’s brains don’t just explode with all of this stimulation!

I have a quick question. What do you think a child would be like if he was brought up in a monastery? I don’t mean would he be religious, I mean what kind of personality would he develop? What sort of mind would he develop in the silence. A dead mind or an enquiring mind?

Fortunately we don’t all have to go and live in monasteries if we want silence. We can create it at home, but remember, we must lead, we must show the way.

So we will have to get rid of our flat screen tv and satellite system to start with, and we can’t have any computer game consoles, because not only are they addictive, but tend to over stimulate the mind, and we have to set out times when we eat together, in a state of calmness, so you may have to find work that doesn’t involve so much rushing around.
“But it’s impossible,” you say.

But remember, you are the one who is creating the environment, and you are in charge! Mealtimes have to become calmer and a time when we can sit together quietly. Do you want to stop reading now? And perhaps a time could be set aside when you both just sit. I mean sit. And do nothing. Together. You don’t need any special training or equipment just sit in a nice space with a candle to create some atmosphere if you like, but it’s not necessary.

Above all, you have to become aware of yourselves. You have to gain some insight into your own minds, and start to slow down, to start to relax your minds more. Are you with me so far? And remember, you haven’t had the kids yet!

Once you have the children you have to carry on with this intentional (characterized by conscious design or purpose) state you are creating, there is no point in saying “Oh, we don’t have time, we’ve got kids you know.” But children don’t keep you busy, you create the busyness and then blame the kids when they get a bit hyper.

Stop buying them toys!

Lots of space remember, that’s what we are trying to create here. So don’t buy your kids noisy toys, in fact, don’t buy anything from companies who profess to know what they’re doing when it comes to children’s development, instead create a toy yourself for them, something you have spent time on, it means so much to any child growing up. Even give them something from nature to play with (we all know the stories where someone bought their child an expensive toy and the child threw it to one side and played with the box!).

Why do you need an expensive adding up toy when you can give a child ten stones?
“But we want to give them things, we want to show them we love them,” I hear you shout, “why shouldn’t we give them the best we can afford! Who are you to tell us what we can or can’t do?”

And you’re right, you don’t have to listen to me; in fact, I positively want you to go out and test everything I am saying; but plastic toys made in a far away country by some poor worker (who also may be a child) on a pound a day, don’t help children understand where they come from, and what they are – toys from nature do. Try it out.

We spend billions each year on toys for our children. Toys they play with and get bored with. So we can make them a new toy, or we can get them to help us with it. Do you understand?

Parenting isn’t a one way process; parenting is like this book, a dialogue between two people. We should be asking the children questions instead of filling their delicate minds with second hand knowledge. We should be asking them to question us, to explore nature with their minds, not getting them to repeat what they have read parrot fashion. If you want that, buy a parrot!

Creating stillness

Instead of encouraging our children to compete, which is, after all, one of the big problems in our adult society, we should be teaching them to cooperate; and instead of teaching them to chase success, we should be teaching them about insight.

I’m sure a lot of you are saying: “this all sounds easy on paper, but it wouldn’t work in the real world, as our children have to go to school by law, and they will be influenced by other children who don’t have parents teaching them all this good stuff – parents who have satellite televisions and computer games. Won’t our children be jealous. What then?”

Unfortunately, the way society is organised makes it difficult for any parent who wants to do the right thing, or to just let their children grow up, without conditioning them, or putting expectations on them, and if you choose to teach your child at home, they still have to follow the exam structure, it is the LAW! So you have to be careful.

There is no easy answer to this most difficult of problems, but by gaining insight yourself you will see the way. Do you understand? There is no point in getting a child to take one path if you are on another.

As we bring this discussion to a close, I have a few words to offer you. When both ourselves, and our children, learn stillness (calmness without winds), the mind will develop in ways you could never imagine, but if you fill a mind with noise, anger, shouting, knowledge, conditioning, conforming, then where is the space for the mind to develop? Unfortunately, the people in charge of education will never see it, because they just want your child to get a job so he can start paying his taxes. But as I said before, don’t take my word for it.

If we know that in order to progress, we have to jump off the wheel, then it is our responsibility to help guide our children in such a way that they never get on the wheel, but to do that you are going to have to stop shouting, stop demanding and stop criticising.

But what do I know? I don’t have any children. The government system knows best what to do with a child’s mind, after all, look what they have done for ours.

Stop blaming the children
Let them be
Let them experience silence
Let them experience what it is like to be still
Let their minds grow


by alan macmillan orr

‘the natural mind – waking up’

2009

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