Sitting in a restaurant today, a family sat down in the booth behind me. I had my back turned to them but I could hear a mother, a father, and two young boys. From what I could tell the boys were around 4 or 5, and there was also a young girl. The parents sounded like they were maybe in their early thirties. The two boys were from the get-go as the family sat down, what we would typically describe as ‘rowdy’, like asking lots of questions and climbing around and repeating words and sentences. The mother kept saying things like ‘NO, don’t go over there!’ ‘Come back here!’ ‘Sit down!’ ‘Stop doing that!’ ‘Knock it off!’ And as she was speaking I could hear her teeth clenching and you could hear the frustration in her voice – you could hear the reactions of impatience and anger as the boys were obviously ‘behaving’ in a way that she didn’t want – she was having a hard time ‘controlling them’. So, the father returned to the table with food, and there commenced more ‘rowdy’ behavior, with both parents repeating commands like ‘Knock it off!’, ‘You’re 4 years old, why don’t you act like it’, ‘Act normal!’, and ‘Shut the hell up!’ There were also repeated threats of ‘If you don’t stop then let’s just leave’, and ‘Okay we’re leaving!’ And the boys would say ‘no’, and then the father would say ‘Then knock it off!’ At one point the father smacked one of the boys, attempting to get him to ‘Knock it off!’ and sit still and eat his food. The boy started crying obviously, and telling the father that ‘he hurt him’.
So here we have a scene which we can all agree is rather disturbing. I mean what’s obviously happening here is that the parents are reacting to the children, and the reactions are being acted out, and this acting out of reactions is functioning as a method of shaping the child’s behavior. We’ve all seen it or experienced it in some form or other in our own lives, and we all know that at this very moment, such situations are playing out in the lives of millions of people around the world.
Obviously most of us would agree that if we could prevent such abusive behavior, we would, wouldn’t we? I mean if given the choice to continue with having your reactions direct how you interact with your child, or being given a way to understand why your child acts the way they do, and be able to support them and give them direction in a practical way, without having to use threats and violence, wouldn’t you choose the practical, non-reactive way?
How many times have you yelled at your child, or grabbed your child, or smacked them, and regretted it afterward? How many times have you wondered why it’s so hard to be a parent?
Why is it so difficult to be a parent? Why are there so many things about your child’s behavior and development that you don’t understand?
Why do you react and become emotional when your child doesn’t act the way you want them to? Why do you get angry at them? What’s really going on here?
Isn’t it common sense that, in order to understand your child’s behavior; how they respond to you, how they react to you, why they don’t listen to you or do as you want them to, that you’d have to first understand and see how YOUR OWN reactions and your own behavior works? Has it ever occurred to you that your own starting point as a parent might be the actual problem, rather than your child’s behavior?
How and where do you, with your children, allow your reactions to direct you in moments where you don’t understand why your child is doing what they’re doing? Are reactions ever a practical solution and method of educating and influencing a new human being who is going to copy what you tell them and show them?
Have you sat down and in writing written out and defined in words your expectations, your definitions, your memories, your ideas, your opinions, your wants and desires, around the point of parenting and having a family?
Have you ever stopped to consider how you formed and came to accept your definitions of parenting, family, raising a child? What were the influences? Where did those definitions come from?
Have you ever stopped and looked at what of your own behavior toward your child is exactly the same behavior that your own parents directed towards you? In what ways have you become a copy of your own parents? How and where have you copied and come to believe in the accepted ideas and definitions of parenting and family that you’ve been exposed to in the society you’ve become a part of? In what ways are you a copy of the world you were born into?
Are you satisfied with the way children are treated in this world? Do you believe it is acceptable for parents to mold, influence, train, and program a new human being according to whatever their particular opinions, beliefs, expectations, personal wants and desires and conditioning happen to be?
Should human beings have the ‘right’ to bring a child into the world simply because they are wanting to fulfill a preconceived idea about what their life is going to be like with a family?
Can you self honestly claim that your child holds any responsibility whatsoever to act, to be, to become what you want them to be according to your preconceived wants and expectations of having a family?
Why do you get embarrassed when your child is being loud or rambunctious in a public place like a restaurant? Is your child the problem? Is it your child who is causing you to feel embarrassed, or flustered, or upset, or stressed out? Or is your child’s behavior simply triggering your own ideas, definitions, beliefs — programming — about how you’re supposed to act in a public place, and how you, in your own mind, want others to see you and perceive you?
Why do we accept and allow ourselves to project our own programming onto our children?
Why is our priority the fulfillment of our own happiness and picture perfect life and family, rather than first making sure we are able to make decisions about another human being’s life without having reactions cause us to do and say things that we would not like another to do and say to us?
When protesters are pepper sprayed, tasered, pushed around by police, aren’t they doing exactly the same thing as we do to our children when we force them to conform to our thoughts, expectations, wants?
Our society is full of daily examples of abusive actions carried out in the name of protecting and enforcing the interests of religions, governments, etc. Isn’t that what we’re doing to our children? Protecting and enforcing our own personal interests as our own individual ideas, preconceptions, definitions and beliefs about having a family?
Why do we so easily judge others for attacking or being intolerant of things they don’t understand, or that don’t conform with their views and opinions, but fail to see how in yelling at and using physical violence to control our children, we are in fact attacking something we don’t understand?
When will we be self honest and admit that we are faced with a problem in that we do not in fact have a practical way of directing the growth and development of children, and that we resort to manipulation and violence and fear tactics to control our children in order to manage our own emotional state?
Instead of abusing and traumatizing our children, leading inevitably to our children copying the same exact behaviors and reactions and repeating the same cycle with their own children, shouldn’t we take Self Responsibility and first walk a self investigative process of understanding what conditioning, what programming we are walking with in our own minds, where it came from, and how it influences the way we see our children and the way we approach parenting?
Obviously these are some big questions that are not so easy to come to grips with. I mean, as the human race we have been repeating the same cycles of behavior over and over again generation after generation and it’s easy to say that it’s all just ‘human nature’. But, fortunately – it’s not ‘just human nature’. Fortunately, we CAN change. And – the cool part is that there are already examples and documentation of HOW to change. This is what we’re walking with the Journey to Life blogs as Destonians. We’re changing the Destination of Humanity, changing the Destiny of Humanity. Changing our direction from that of reactions based on self interest based conditioning, to that of practical solutions based in the best interest of Life.
Here are some blogs and other links to assist with opening up practical insights into children, parenting, and education from those walking their process of developing Self Honesty and practical solutions:
Journey to a New Life
A New Father’s Journey to Life
A Teacher’s Journey to Life
Parenting: Perfecting the Human Race – audio series on Eqafe