What parent hasn’t thrown their hands up in a moment of exasperation, wishing children came with instructions…Ah, but that would be too easy!
However, in our role as parents amidst endless dilemmas and demands, we discover an extraordinary journey of self-discovery. For disguised in the cloak of family drama is a magic mirror revealing a clear and poignant portrait of our most hidden inner-self. Parenting is a sacred task- a rigorous spiritual discipline. From this perspective I wonder in awe: Are we not by virtue of our privilege as parents poised to learn more than we could ever teach our children?
Having children is our biggest blessing and consciously raising them is a course in miracles. But this just sounds like a lofty platitude when we are overwhelmed by nightly feedings, potty-training mishaps, sibling rivalry or embarrassing public tantrums (theirs and OURS!).
IT CAN GET TRICKY…
There are no easy answers in raising the next generation. (I’ll admit- I was a perfect mother-until I HAD kids!)
But perhaps there are clues, and I believe they can be found inside of the children themselves. MY CHILDREN ARE MY COMPASS. (Which means whenever I make mistakes I can blame it on them-just kidding!) Reading my children provides insight needed to navigate any terrain, keeping us all on track. Attuning my heart with theirs by seeking to understand how they are ‘experiencing their experience’, is how it is done. To orient ourselves in empathy does take time and energy, but the outcome is a happier home-life with secure and loving children. A couple simple guidelines have evolved which have nourished my practice of this principle, and so I share them with you:
RULE OF THUMB #1:
EVERY CHILD IS A STAR!
There really is no such thing as "a gifted child" in my books because ALL children are gifted in someway or another, no exceptions. Remembering this can give us patience and insight into our children’s particular needs and tendencies.
I recall a fascinating story of a boy I saw on ‘OPRAH’ years ago who was a powerful example of this, yet appeared at first glance to be the one exception. But of course not; God is never wrong…
Due to this child’s incapacity to sit-up, crawl, walk or talk he was labelled by specialists as a ‘vegetable’. His impassioned mother never accepted this bleak prognosis of her son and resolved to treat him with the same regard as she showed her other kids. She would read him bedtime stories at night, carry his frail and motionless body to the beach on sunny days and explain all matters concerning him despite his eternal silence.
One day an idea came to her which might finally give expression to the imprisoned song she knew was in his soul. Creating a homemade alphabet board, she placed it on the table directly in front of her son. Propping him up so he could see, she then placed his lifeless hand onto the letters. Lightly cupping his elbow from behind, immediately she could sense nearly imperceptible signals registering his intent to move. Careful not to actually guide him in any particular direction, she patiently and with great sensitivity facilitated the expression of his will. It was a slow and painstaking process. But eventually she deciphered the formation of a word, and then another. She scrambled for a pen. Sure enough a message had been liberated:
‘TO JUDGE ANOTHER IS TO JUDGE GOD’.
I am still deeply moved remembering this precious boy, his wise mother and his profound awareness. He was later tested by several Universities and his gifts proved authentic.
Children are love letters from God. All of them are endowed with inestimable potential. To overlook or underestimate even one is like letting a library burn down.
RULE OF THUMB #2
Aside from #1, THERE ARE NO RULES! None, zip, zero. Because like snowflakes, no two children are ever exactly the same, every stage of development is different and each destiny is original. In every child shines a guiding light. If we can embrace each temperament with all the combinations of color, flavour and texture that every child so uniquely possesses, somehow, mysteriously, the way is shown.
There are many great spiritual paths to elevate us; yoga, martial arts and meditation among them. And I like to think I have grown from each one. But for me the ‘mother of them all’ is just being my children’s Mom!
SHANNON LEONE is a Mom, Artist, Writer with 20 years experience in Self-Health whose background includes: Assistant Fitness Director of the Parkview Club in Toronto, Licensed Aestitician and Colon Hydro therapist, Raw Gourmet Chef, Director of THE LITTLE FRIENDS FOUNDATION, Creator of THE FRIENDSHIP FLAG GAME for kids age 1-100, and Filmmaker RAISING CHILDREN RAISES US- a DVD on Conscious Parenting. Shannon has appeared on TV’s Woman to Woman, Daytime, Body Mind Spirit, International Radio and many Magazines. Rawmom.com