THESE DIVINE, LIMITLESS SOULS ARE NOT OUR OWN
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.
Very thoughtful and provocative. You could submit this in other places – I’m sure it would stimulate some interesting conversations.
Thanks dad. I’m learning so much these days as I watch Saoirse growing, exploring, dreaming, imagining and so on. I’m enthralled and so grateful to be her father. And I do believe that the interaction between us all will help us grow closer to our most authentic selves. I think that’s how it works. You and mom started this deliberate and wondrous legacy. Thank you for that.
This is amazing Jared and I think you should consider submitting this to some parenting magazines. I love your heart and how you parent!
Thanks so much mom. Glad you guys saw this one. I’m certainly getting an education in parenting. As you know, Saoirse is a force, and Francois was no walk in the park. But I’m grateful for them both, and for all of the joy and fulfillment it gives me as a father.
Great post, Jared. I really appreciate the fact that you’re sharing not only your mission as a parent but the methodology to help raise a fearless spirit. I also agree with the above comments about submitting your writing elsewhere. This is one of the sagest and most coherent articles I’ve seen on parenting in years.
And I look forward to hearing more.
Innes, wow, thank you so much! I really appreciate your feedback. I’m learning so much. And I’m so grateful to be part of our children’s journey. They teach us so much ever day (as long as we are deliberately listening…).
Love this and there are so many things I would love to quote from it! I’ve bookmarked this to reference on my own site. It takes unending patience and continual growth to raise a child, and each and every one brings forth their own beauty and their own challenges. Saoirse is going to be a force to be reckoned with her whole life, and will impact everyone she meets – and she chose you two as parents because of all the love you bring to her. Francois as well, and any others. Parenting is a powerful thing, and I’m so thrilled to be on this journey with you as well!
Thanks Ashley! Parenting is certainly an ongoing challenge, but it’s one that is more fruitful than anything else I’ve ever done. I know it’s made me a better human, and I’m grateful for that. I am so inspired by watching the kids grow into who they were created to be. What a magnificent force to watch! We are blessed.
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Jared, this is a really amazing piece. Thanks for sharing so much of your heart and vulnerability. It is amazing how we can learn and grow so much by learning from our children. I know I have learned a great deal from mine, and they are making me a better man.
Graham, thanks so much! I agree that (if we make space for it), our children act as spectacular self actualization tools! They teach us patience, love, compassion, etc. at a level most never actually experience outside the home. It’s a symbiotic relationship. We build each other up. Peace!
Thanks so much Graham! This piece has become a common discussion in our family since I wrote it, and it’s sort of set us in a new trajectory with a focus on families and parenting. That lead us to creating lovelikewater.com, which we just recently launched.
We all have lots to learn!