Children have neither past nor future; they enjoy the present, which very few of us do. ~Jean de la Bruyere
Have you ever watched a baby or small child play? It’s really something to behold. Their movements are very fluid because they are at such ease in their bodies. They express so much joy when they play. Babies don’t think about when they will cry; they just do it from awareness knowing that their cry will elicit a response from someone who will meet their needs. Children don’t think about each momentary activity. It is their nature to just “be” without any judgment of themselves or anyone around them.
Children function from awareness in every moment of their day. They don’t judge themselves or go to the thinking mind, but rather they function from consciousness, awareness, and the joy of life. It isn’t until others begin to project judgments and points of view at them that they begin to override their awareness and begin to judge themselves, their behavior, their choices, and others around them.
Start with a Clean Slate
So how can we nurture a child’s innate awareness and the joy of living? First, we must let go of all our preconceived points of view regarding children and in regards to everything we were taught, and everything we’ve read and experienced about children. By letting go of all of this and starting from a clean slate, it is now possible to function from a place of “knowing”. Knowing is instantaneous; it comes first without any effort. Thinking, planning and figuring things out comes after we have accessed our knowing.
Ask and You Shall Receive
To bring up joyful children, a dynamic tool for parenting is to “live in the question.” A question empowers, and an answer or conclusion does just the opposite. Rather than coming to conclusions about behaviors and situations, a conscious parent will ask questions to create awareness around a situation. For instance, if a child is cranky when they come home from school we may conclude that they are tired. Then we decide that if they rest they will get over the crankiness. Since that is not the real reason they are cranky, resting does not change the behavior. If instead you ask your child what is going on with them, you may discover that he or she had a difficult interaction with another child at school. Now you can deal with the situation from that vantage point and have more success in allowing your child to work through their feelings. Questions allow us to live in the moment instead of functioning from past experiences that may jade our view.
Trust your Children
Children are conscious beings in little bodies. What if they know way more than which we give them credit? Parenting in the traditional sense requires control. Aren’t we supposed to know what’s best for our children, have the answers, protect them and keep them from harm? Instead, what if we truly listened to children to become aware of what they require in any given moment? What if they listen to their bodies and know what kind of food their body needs? Perhaps one day it’s three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches without any fruit or vegetable and the next day it’s only fruit all day. Would you be willing to trust in their knowing for their body? What if the shyness they display is not shyness at all but an awareness of people? Would you be willing to respect their knowing around people?
Consciousness, as defined by Gary Douglas of Access Consciousness®, includes everything without judgment. It is the willingness and capacity to be totally aware and totally present in all areas of our lives. Consciousness is the ability to continually awaken to more possibility, more choice and more life. Bringing up joyful children becomes much easier when we are willing to function from our own awareness.
Do You Know “Who” Your Children Are?
As I talk to people about kids I wonder if we really know who our children are. We have so many hopes and dreams for them even before they are born. As we drive through life at full speed with our hopes and dreams for our children in place, how often do we stop to ask, “what do our children desire”? Do we ever ask our kids, “what would you like your life to look like? Or do we decide for our children what their life should look like based on a societal or cultural norm, our communities culture or a resistance to something you have decided they cannot be or do. Have we already decided the “right“ way for them to live their life.
When working with a group of high school football players I asked, “how much of what you do in your life is about what you would like to do and how much is it because you think that’s what you are supposed to do?” Boy, I could feel the energy in the room change and it was clear that much of what they were involved in was because they thought that is what they are supposed to do.
The documentary, The Race to No Where, demonstrates how children feel the pressure to be everything. They must be a good student, a good athlete, a good musician, and on and on. There are defined expectations for children that may have nothing to do with what they would like to choose. The impact can result in stress disorders, illness, and much more.
What if we asked our children, “what would you like your life to look like?” or “what do you love and enjoy that would be something you might want to learn more about?” Some children will thrive with many organized activities and some may want to be more self-directed. I worked with two boys in a tutoring setting who were having difficulty in school and they thought they were stupid. As we worked together I learned they both had a talent and ability with motorbikes. They loved to ride them and they also knew how to fix them and change the way they look. They were very creative and when they talked about the motorbikes their entire energy changed. As they began to acknowledge their talents, acknowledge all that they knew and learned how to use that energy with their schoolwork everything changed.
Would you be willing to let go of all your expectations and all the projections from family, community, and society and find out what your child truly desires for their life? What if it’s different than your expectations? Would you be willing to have your child make their own choices for their life? What if their life and yours would be far greater than you could imagine and bring more joy than you can imagine?