Archive for September, 2008

The Parent Taboo by Michael Mendizza (quotes from..)

For a child, belonging, feeling safe and accepted is a matter of life or death. The driving force for an infant is to maintain the bond at all cost. This expresses as a deep need for physical closeness, touch, body contact, movement, audio-visual communication and gentle affectionate play. Not being part of the group is devastating. The greatest punishment anyone and especially a young child can feel is rejection, abandonment. Sensory deprivation is more traumatic than physical punishment. Much of the rage we see in the world emanates from this rejection – religious wars, rape, domestic violence and endless cycles of child abuse.

Bev Bos, one of the nation’s most respected early parent-child educator, describes how parents are under a spell, caught in a trance. We, more or less, blindly do onto others what others have done to us.

Lifelong learning and practice is the key to mastery regardless of skill or craft, including parenting.
The classic tool for mass behavior control is to invent an outside threat. It works every time. Culture tells us, it is a jungle out there. The world is full of terrorists, predators. Children must be conditioned for their own good and it is our job to do so.

Chris Mercogliano argues In Defense of Childhood that nearly all children are domesticated, fenced in like pets or livestock, and so are we. Domesticated children become domesticated adults.
Taboo means forbidden. Its opposite is freedom. Which invites more wisdom and adaptive intelligence, freedom or prohibition?

Children are told ‘no’ eleven times to each encouraging ‘yes.’ No! Don’t touch. Keep your hands to yourself. You’ll poke your eye out. No. No. No. Do that again and it’s time-out for you Buster. Go to your room. We are conditioned from early childhood to obey…We are compared, graded, judged, sometimes praised (a shadow form of punishment), labeled, pigeonholed, categorized and certified.

We are led to believe that inner and outer anarchy will spread widely without constraint. Taboos prevent us from even questioning this assumption. J. Krishnamurti insisted that intelligence is innate, not learned or accumulated. All the so called higher spiritual qualities, as the wise have said for ages, are innate. Only in freedom can these most valued qualities express.

Maher Baba said it wonderfully. Love must spring spontaneously from within and is in no way amenable to any form of force or coercion. Inward, psychological freedom is our birthright.



September 21, 2008 at 3:53 am 2 comments

You cannot disappoint me

“Nothing you become will disappoint me; I have no preconception that I’d like to see you be or do. I have no desire to foresee you, only to discover you.

You cannot disappoint me. ”
-mary haskell

You are loved.

A mother says…sometimes my daughter goes to bed totally filthy…
…after a long day of play. Sometimes she likes the ritual of wiping her face and hands and getting all cleaned up with fresh jammies. But lots of times she doesn’t. And I’m not willing to have her scream so I get the satisfaction of cleaning her face…

I don’t want her to have a miserable life.”

What kind of life do you want with your children? There are no rules saying things have to be done a certain way. You get to make it up in a way that works for you and your family. Notice where the struggles are with your family and ask yourself…is it really worth it? Sometimes it is…you will have “bottom line” requests which you are unwilling to compromise about.

For most of us, however, we create far too many rules…for our children and for ourselves. We are not talking about permissiveness, but about conscious choice. What REALLY matters, and what doesn’t. Choose carefully. Consider new possibilities even if no other parents around you make those same choices.

One client of ours was struggling with brushing teeth. Every night, a huge battle ensued when everyone was most tired. Several possible solutions came out of our coaching session…
1. chew healthy gum (xylitol) more often
2. give child choice about when to brush, encouraging morning or another time when everyone is more fresh
3. let child brush own teeth, then you go in for the finish
4. new toothbrush and different flavors of tooth paste
5. sing song (raffi has one about brushing teeth)

Notice where you struggle with your children and decide to find a way to make things work better. Joy is the most important goal for every single day.

Ask us your parenting questions…

September 20, 2008 at 8:18 pm Leave a comment

i totally disagree

Here is a comment that came through our email…
I absolutely disagree with this. I have been a spoiled gift reciever in my life and I don’t feel that it is civil or polite to only encourage gratitude for gifts that the child likes or wants. The fact that someone has gone out of their way to give a gift is enough of a reason to express appreciation for their thoughtful gesture. Yes, modeling that is very appropriate, but “training” the young child to express appreciation is also a valuable social skill.

A child who learns to trust and honor their feelings is one who can also learn to honor and value the feelings of others. Let’s cultivate more of that and not raise self-absorbed egotists!


September 19, 2008 at 4:09 am Leave a comment

say “thank you”

Cultivating gratitude

When we ask our children to “say thank you”, we are in training mode (think dog obedience). Our intention may be to help them learn to express gratitude and appreciation, however, this way of *teaching* gratitude doesn’t work. Not only is this usually more about our own fear of being judged by the other parent, but it also may be training our children to ignore their own hearts in order to appease and even ‘lie’.

Do you ever remember a time when you were a child and someone gave you something that you didn’t like? Imagine Aunt Mabel giving 5 year old Joey a coloring book that he thinks is for “babies”. He feels so disappointed, because not only is the gift not something he likes, but being a big boy isn’t recognized or honoured. This is heartbreaking for a child. And if we tell them to “say thank you”, then we close the door on them, in a way, because we make it less safe for them to share their true feelings with us.

What was your situation? How did you feel when you were asked to say thank you for something you weren’t thankful about?

We want to encourage honesty AND gratitude. We want our children to listen to their hearts and speak their own truth. We want them to feel connection and trust and to know that we do truly honour them.

When ‘say thank you’ is about to roll off your lips, pause. Let go of that fear of what the other person may be thinking. If you have a need to connect with the other parent, or child, then YOU express your gratitude. Your modelling of gratitude in an honest way is powerful learning for your child. Instead of training your child, trust in their true desire to relate to others and allow their gratitude to emerge naturally. Then, when they do say thank you in their own way, you can feel the sweetness of that.

You can gently guide your child by talking with them about different ways of expressing thankfulness, once you are alone together. Ask questions…you didn’t like the gift, and was there anything you did feel thankful for?

Begin a gratitude practice. At night as you are going to sleep, begin saying all the things that YOU are grateful for. Do this for you, in the presence of your child and just see what happens. No forcing, just let it flow. Gratitude is a delicious way to bring us back into our natural state of JOY. This is a great gift to share with our children, greater than merely training them in ‘politeness’.

We each have a very strong, NATURAL desire to contribute to the well-being of others. Allow your children to remain in that natural state of flow without *training* them out of it. It requires some unlearning on our part, to return to our truthful hearts.

September 19, 2008 at 4:06 am 3 comments

the fake parent

Believe in possibility and creative answers will come to you…

A true story…
A 7 year old girl who has not been sleeping well for a few nights. She is unsettled and unhappy and unable to sleep (and so no one else is sleeping either). On the fourth night, she gets up around 11pm and doesn’t want to go back to bed. She makes her plea…”please could one of you come to bed with me?” Her parents consider her request, but they are each involved in very enjoyable projects and don’t feel ready for bed. Hmmm. what to do. (This is when it would be so easy to insist and then enter the ‘battle zone’.) Instead, they stopped and listened. Such power in that. She wanted a companion to comfort her.

“What if we made you a fake parent to sleep with?” Of course! They built a person. Using clothing with mom and dad smells, stuffed with pillows, snuggled up beside her. She slept soundly after that. Weeks later, the fake parent lives, that is, sleeps on.

Ahhh yes. Creativity and inspiration help. And really listening for the need behind what your child is saying. It’s so easy to be triggered and annoyed and habitual in our responses…
‘go back to bed, it’s time for sleep’,
‘you’ll be fine’,
‘you’re old enough to sleep on your own’,
‘if you don’t stay in bed we’ll….’

How much more satisfying to find a solution which meets EVERYONE’S NEEDS. The crux is making a shift in your attitude so that you believe it’s possible and are willing to try.
When your child makes a request…let go of your conditioned way of thinking…
1. Consider the request seriously. Is there any way you would be willing to agree? Stretch yourself a bit here.
2. If you are not willing or able in that moment, then take a deep breath and put your own thoughts and habitual responses aside and LISTEN DEEPLY. What’s the need behind the behaviour?
3. Step back a little, especially if you are feeling angry or frustrated and take another deep breath. Ask for a solution to come to you…not necessarily from your thinking mind, but from your heart…what’s possible here that you haven’t considered.
4. Get beyond either/or thinking (either my child’s needs or my needs get met…) and imagine a third possibility. Then maybe a fourth.

Practice every day believing in possibility and watch it unfold all around you.
“Hmmm you want a balloon today? Well, I don’t have one and I don’t know where we will find one, but let’s just be open to it and see what happens.” (This is Law of Attraction in action.)

September 19, 2008 at 3:13 am Leave a comment