Spiritual Parenting – even when it’s tough!
A few weeks ago my all-grown-up daughter came over for a visit. She expressed interest in finding some pictures of herself in middle school – during her “goth” phase – so we began rifling through the picture boxes. In the course of it all, she opened a door to a cabinet and discovered many many little books. “ Those are my journals,” I explained.
After a few quiet and thoughtful moments she said, “Mom, my brother and I don’t need to read your journals. So at some point before you die, will you please get rid of them?” We laughed heartily, as I have no plans to die soon.
But after she left, I thought about what she said. She’s probably right. If I were to drop dead suddenly – as is always possible in this unpredictable world – they would most likely feel an imperative to read through the journals rather than just callously tossing them out. I don’t remember what’s in them. There may very well be entries describing my processes of becoming wife and mother that they most certainly do not “need to read.”
So I started a journey through my journals, reading one or two per day and then putting them in the recycle bin. There are some surprises in there – mostly I’m surprised at what I don’t remember. I don’t mean I’m reading something and saying to myself, “Oh I forgot about that.” Instead, I’m reading them and having NO MEMORY of that person, that event, that set of feelings, that psychological process that loomed so important at one time.
But here’s why I’m sharing this experience. In one journal I clearly and cleverly explained to myself why I would never have children. I’ll not bore you with all the details, but in a nutshell, I swore to never have children because my mother was such an awful role model, and she had thoroughly convinced me that I was even more awful than she, therefore I thought I would do the world a favor and break that mold!
Then of course I met Vic and we married and had a child (the very child who is now asking me to get rid of my journals!) And in my journal I said to that two-day-old child, “I have no idea how to be a mother. You’ll have to teach me. I gave birth to you two days ago, but you gave birth to me as a mother! I don’t really know what mother love is. Can you tell me?” Then I meditated for a while, and then I started writing what I “heard” my baby saying:
- It is unconditional, never withdrawn.
- It is patient.
- It is hopeful.
- It is tolerant.
- It is enduring.
- It is instructive. A mother teachers her children the practical and the spiritual.
- It is protective.
- It bonds tightly at first and then releases a little more every day.
- It nurtures and heals and reassures.
- It never condemns or inflicts guilt.
- A mother helps her child see options and make decisions.
- A mother teaches a child how to think, not what to think.
- A mother demonstrates how to trust feelings and respect their validity.
- A mother shows affection.
- A mother loves herself and doesn’t apologize for that.
- A mother teaches self-respect and other-respect by example.
- A mother’s love is subjective, not omniscient. It’s to be taken and given freely. It’s neither deserved nor undeserved. It is to be held in high esteem by parent and child.
Well, my goodness. That was as wise little baby , n’est-ce pas? She and her brother who followed a few years later have taught me everything I know about spiritual parenting.
The Invisible Garment teachings, however, have amplified what they’ve taught me. After years of working with parents I can assure you with all my heart that knowing your child’s spiritual principles may be the most powerful parenting tool you can possess. Knowing what “promise” your child made to the universe at his or her first breath gives you as the parent a clear path to successfully supporting that child on his or her life journey.
For example – let’s talk about my daughter’s “goth” days. Every child makes choices about what kinds of rebellious stands to take during adolescence. It’s “required by law” that we defy and disobey and challenge and oppose during those hormonal years! She chose to do it through her couture. I, of course, hated it. But because I knew that Resistance was part of the fiber of her being, I knew that she had to be free to take in cultural information about how she “should” look, work with that information, transform and transmute that information, and spit it back out according to her own interpretation. The black, ripped and shredded, steel toed, dark eyed, super skinny look of the “goth world” was how she chose to express her freedom. I knew that Resistance – the spiritual principle that urges us to deconstruct the lies and reconstruct the truth in our world – was operating through her. So I waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually she realized that there were lots of cute clothes that had color in them, that black was perhaps not her best hair color, and that it was hard to dance in Doc Martens.
Parents learn patience from their children. Your child’s invisible garment pattern may be your most valuable assistance in the practice of patience. If you can see in his or her pattern that Randomness explains why your child takes so long to make a decision, or that Silence explains your child needs to learn in ways that are different from other children, or Placement explains why your child is an athlete, then you have a leg up on when to be patient and when to push.
We found my daughter’s “goth” pictures that day. She took them to work with her to show her colleagues. They were astonished. They couldn’t believe that the beautiful, joyful, red-head (still not her natural color) had ever been so dark. But I know that Resistance walked her through that dark phase and delivered her to her self. It wasn’t her mother – it was Resistance.