If one is merely attempting to make another person follow their orders, it makes sense to keep that person under their control and to foster a controllable environment. If the environment or individual cannot easily be controlled, it is more of a fight to get them to obey and react accordingly. So you tighten the reigns until you have a controllable situation.
Instill fear in their hearts and refer to it as “respect”. Use that fear to divide them from their peers so you may more easily control them as individuals. The more control over the environment and individual, the easier it is to make them do what you want.
This methodology is central to our global military and governments.
Unfortunately, this methodology also seems to be the preferred choice of most parents. They develop and foster an environment that is easy to control and manipulate. They employ fear tactics to get what they want. They bark orders and expect them to be executed, or else… They purposely limit exposure to opportunities that may introduce an environment that is more difficult to control.
Creativity is stifled by many parents because it’s just too difficult to predict, channel or control. They shrink the child’s parameters to a realm that seems manageable to them.
They feel the need to constantly prove themselves, assert authority, assume control or carry out punishment. I see parents out in public treating their children worse than they’d treat their dog. I can’t imagine what it’s like at home behind closed doors. It is clear that their goal is to control that child and show their peers that the child is under their command. Somehow, this achievement has become a trophy for modern parenthood.
It’s easier to develop a controlled environment and teach our children to obey. Get them in a routine and punish them when they fall out of line. But this is not a service to our children, or to future generations. This is more like putting the evolution of mankind on pause, or worse, rewind.
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” Khalil Gibran
Our children enter this world as divine and limitless souls. They choose us as their parents because of who we are, what we believe and the journey we are on. Our role, and privilege is to provide guidance and assistance for them as they navigate this human experience.
The responsibility of parenting comes second to nothing in our lives. These are not our children. They are souls on a purposeful journey. We revere this wonder with awe, respect and gratitude.
I believe we should lift the parameters of the status quo for our children. They enter this world full of joy, awe, appreciation, wonder and divine ability. I want to do everything in my power to keep that sacred, rather than strip it away and teach them to conform.
I want our children to learn to be creative. To dream. To believe they can do anything. To value relationships over all material gain or social status. To be creative. To be problem solvers. To communicate effectively. To understand both independence and interdependence and to find the balance between them.
I want them to live mindfully, completely aware and appreciative of everything around them. I don’t want them to conform or fit in or take the nuances of life for granted. I find no gratification from having an obedient child. I find great joy in raising a child that is kind, considerate, loving and patient, simply because they are driven to be.
I want them to view every element of life as a miracle. Not just the obvious stuff. Everything should be full of magic and wonder. I want them to embrace mystery and the unknown.
It’s not easy. It’s important.
I’m not interested in easy. I enjoy the challenge of having to get creative with problem solving, or be patient while my child figures something out on their own. I am there to guide, lead by example, inspire and protect when needed. My role is to instill principles and practices.
I am very cognizant and deliberate about the environment that influences our children. They are taking it all in, weighing it out and forming their own character. This has profound implications on us as parents. We must be mindful about what influences them.
They don’t watch violent films.
They do not watch mainstream media or news.
We don’t raise our voices or argue heatedly in front of them.
We don’t tease them. I can’t imagine how that would benefit them.
We don’t make fun of them or belittle them. This is quite the opposite of what we want to foster.
We don’t scare them. Ever.
We aren’t sarcastic. This isn’t what I want to pass on to my children.
We don’t scold them or punish them. We do, however, hold them accountable for their actions in productive ways.
We don’t teach them to obey or conform. We teach them to believe, dream, discover and explore.
As parents, there are many negative elements we work to eliminate from our own lives, such that they do not limit or wound the divine creatures we are so blessed to call our children. As an adult, I have no desire to conform or fit into the status quo. I don’t want to spend my life merely trying to survive at the factory. And I refuse to train our children the ways of this type of world.
When my daughter sees someone being cruel or violent, she is perplexed. It doesn’t fit in her world because it’s completely foreign to her. When someone teases her, she takes it literally because she is trusting and curious. She doesn’t understand cruelty, not even to a bug.
This brings me great joy.
More than anything, I find myself just observing her and reveling in her free spirit and unbridled creativity. I stand on guard, doing my best to keep the rest of the world from telling her she can’t, or she’s not good enough, or that it isn’t safe.
I don’t want my children to fear me, or feel that I am their master. I have no desire to control them or for them to fit in. I only want to inspire them to live as examples of love. I consider it a great honor to play a role in their wondrous journey.
The image at the top is of my daughter, Saoirse at Puerta a la Vida in Miramar, Costa Rica, about an hour from our home.