A43 Our Children’s Needs: What do our children need in order to manifest their latent inner potential

A human being is pretty much programmed, formed in his concepts about himself and the world around him by the age of eight. Most of the work which is done today by psychologists and psychiatrists is to solve the problems and fill the gaps left by the experiences of those earlier years. Wouldn’t it be better to pay more attention to how we bring up our children so that they might be stronger, more able, happier, more in harmony with themselves and their environment? The future of the world depends on our children. The quality of our children and their ability to create a better world depends on us, but not in the way most may think. Let us consider here how we can help our children and ourselves to find harmony, health and happiness.

SEEDS DO NOT LEARN TO GROW

Seeds grow into beautiful plants and huge, almost immortal trees with no education or training whatsoever. What they are to become and how they are to become, that is already printed in their consciousness and chromosomes. The same is true for all the animals, plants and insects upon the earth. Is man the only exception? Is he so much untalented, and unintelligent that he cannot understand what he must become and how he must become that? Is he so far behind the plants and animals in this matter? Or have we destroyed this contact with his inner consciousness, his inner voice which could guide him on his way? Adults in their well meaning way, with an exaggerated concern for their children, and an underestimation of the divine potential which lies within those small beings, inadvertently destroy that small inner voice, as they try to mould their children into what they believe their child should become. This is also true of the educational system as a whole. Thus the question, concerning how we can help our children, becomes, more accurately, how can we help ourselves out of our mistaken concepts and anxiety about the future and lack of confidence in ourselves, in our children and in mankind so as not to become obstacles to the natural development of the child. Our emphasis shall not be so much on how we can teach, but on how we can learn, how we can grow more mature emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Then the real parent, the divine within each child, will take over for us and for our children. We cannot help our children find the voice within them if we have not found it ourselves. We cannot help our children to be healthy if we have not created health for ourselves. We cannot help them have self-confidence unless we ourselves have it. Their self-respect depends on our self-respect, their inner peace on ours, and their self-mastery on our self-mastery. Learning through example is much more effective for children than learning through words. When the person who gives advice is not an example of those words, then not only do those words have no power, but they create a feeling of resentment and rejection towards the hypocrisy which is so obvious. All children are idealists. They expect there has to be a consistency between thoughts, words and actions. When there is not, they feel insecure, they do not know what to believe. Consistency gives a child a feeling of security and respect.

WHAT ARE THEIR NEEDS?

This list will by no means be complete. These are some of the obvious needs which come to mind at this moment. When I asked my small group of children to think about the basic needs of children, one child shocked me with the most simple answers. She said, «The first need of children is PARENTS». How simple, how obvious, and yet today how fragile is that assurance that the child will have the same two parents from its birth until adulthood. «The second need of children», she said, «is to have a good relationship with your parents». This 11 year-old child was telling me what took so many psychologists so many years to understand and verify. In working with adults today, with various emotional problems, most difficulties seem to originate from the lack of affirmation of love and acceptance during their childhood. When this base of love and acceptance is missing, then the individual has a lot of work to do in his life in order to regain that self-love and self-acceptance. When this base of love is there as a child, then he can proceed on to other needs and activities. When it is not there, then whatever the individual will do in his life will have as motives the finding out whether others love and accept him, whether he is worthy of recognition, whether he is okay.

SECURITY

Children need to feel secure. All beings need to feel secure. Few feel secure when there are conflicts occurring around them. Few can relax inwardly when others around them are shouting, accusing, criticising and hating each other. No one likes aggressive voices, full of tension. To a small child, tension between parents, or between parents and the child or other children, represents a deep source of insecurity. When the conflict is between the two parents, it is often worse for the child. The child has not yet learned to feel separate from the parents. He feels a complete identification with both parents. Thus when they are in conflict, he feels that the conflict is taking place between two parts of his own being. He might even begin hating himself as a result. A child cannot feel secure if the parents do not feel secure. If the parents are constantly worrying and have anxiety about money, health and the future, then the child will automatically be programmed to feel insecure about these aspects of life. This insecurity will remain with him and he will waste large portions of time, energy and thought throughout his life, trying in vain to find «security» in controlling these external circumstances. But his inner programming that he is not secure may never be appeased. Thus the most effective way to offer a security base to our children is not to be found in providing a large inheritance for them, but rather to establish an inner feeling of security within ourselves. If we believe in ourselves and in our ability to cope with all of life’s situations, the child will feel the same. As we feel more secure, we will have less moments of conflict with others and our home will be in general more peaceful and more supportive for the child.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

We all know that a child needs love. We all want to be able to love our children unconditionally, but it is not so easy. We are human beings with needs, feelings, expectations, attachments, fears and conditionings which prevent us from being able to accept the child independently of its behavior. Having a child is an excellent opportunity in life to learn what unconditional love means. Because it is «your» child you are more inclined to learn to forgive, to overlook and to continue loving. What do we mean by unconditional love? We mean that our feeling of love and acceptance for the child does not change or fluctuate depending on what the child does or says, or decides to do with its life. It is not necessary to love and accept the child’s behavior. We must make a distinction between the being, the soul, the consciousness of the child and its behavior. We can reject a certain behavior, and explain so to the child, without rejecting the child. The child needs to know that we accept and love him regardless of what he may do, but that certain forms of behavior are not acceptable to us. We must, however, investigate for ourselves why this behavior is not acceptable. Is it because it will be potentially harmful to the child, to someone else, or to ourselves? Or is it simply because we are programmed that it should not be done? Or does the behavior conflict with our expectations based on our personal needs and dreams for the child? Or are we afraid of what the others will think about our child and subsequently about us? We must be very clear about why we are rejecting a certain behavior. Our rejection can come out of a place of real love and concern for the child, if, in fact, we are not simply protecting our own interests. As long as a certain behavior does no real harm to anyone, it is best to allow the child to pursue it. Something within him, some need, is guiding him to explore that kind of activity. He has something to learn through doing that. This does not mean that there are not moments where control or even punishment may be necessary. But one should be sure that the reason is valid and has to do with real issues of safety or morality like stealing, lying or harming others and not because the parents are disappointed with the child’s grades or selection of hobbies, interests or friends. In order to love our children unconditionally, we will have to start loving ourselves unconditionally. We will have to let go of all the prerequisites we have put on our own self-love. We will need to love ourselves even though we are not perfect, even though we make mistakes, even though others do not love and accept us. The more we free our self-love from the various prerequisites, the more our love for our children and others will become unconditional.

AFFIRMATION

Everyone likes a pat on the back, recognition, strokes, praise or affirmation of his ability, his goodness, his okayness. A child has not yet formed an image of himself, and needs these positive inputs even more than adults. A child is not sure if he is able or not. He is so small, in such a large world. He is learning and thus making many mistakes, and he tries to learn how to do things correctly. In our attempt to help the child we often tend to point out his mistakes more frequently than his successes. The mistakes are what are more obvious and thus we feel the need to point them out. The successes are taken for granted. Thus an over-emphasis is given to what the child does wrong. This undermines his sense of ability, and he starts to doubt whether he can really do it. Thus his energy goes into worrying about whether he will be able to do it, and whether he will be criticised and thus no energy is left for focusing on what he is doing so that he can do it correctly and succeed. Thus the child’s performance suffers and the parents or teacher become even more critical of the child. This creates a vicious circle in which the child’s sense of ability, success and worthiness is completely undermined. Later in life he will seek incessantly to prove that he is okay, a success, by attempting to gain money, fame and respect from others. But it is a losing battle because inside him he is programmed to believe that he is not okay, not able. Although he may become very successful, he will likely be unable to satiate his need to prove his ability over and over. On the other hand, he may simply perpetuate the belief that he is a failure and create continual failure in life, by undermining his success in relationships and at work and perhaps his sense of self-worth through alcohol, drugs, tranquillisers or other means. Thus if we want our children to succeed, to accept themselves, to be happy and to have the self-confidence which is required to proceed in life, then we must give them plenty of positive affirmation of their ability and goodness.

A SIMPLE TECHNIQUE

A simple technique will help. Every day sit quietly for a few moments and relax your body and mind so that you can concentrate. (Breathing deeply a number of times will help). When you feel relaxed and concentrated, then bring your child to your mind. See the child healthy and happy, full of self-confidence. Now imagine five positive qualities or characteristics which you recognise in that child. Imagine these positive qualities increasing every day. Then see your child in the screen of your mind, full of light, health and happiness. Imagine yourself and the child in loving embrace, or dancing or singing or in any type of harmonious, happy communication. When the opportunity occurs naturally, inform the child of these qualities or abilities which you recognise in him. Let the child know that you love him, that you respect him, that you believe in him and his ability to make decisions, to be responsible and to cope with life. But let it be clear also that your love is independent from the the positive characteristics or abilities which you recognise in him. He should not be left to feel that you love him more because he does well in school, or sports, or is pretty or handsome, or capable. Your love and respect should not be associated with specific qualities. Otherwise he will get the message that he must always be this way or else the others will not love and respect him. This will really help your child develop the strengths and abilities he needs to be successful and happy in life. It will also do wonders for your relationship with the child. It is much more effective than criticising and blaming the child for his mistakes. Mistakes can be pointed out for the sake of learning from them, but not for the purpose of rejecting the other or making him feel badly. It is important for adults to gain their own self-confidence. Otherwise they might be intimidated by the child’s ability and subconsciously want to undermine the child’s success or intelligence. This sometimes occurs between fathers and sons, or mothers and daughters, when the child is entering adolescence. It is difficult for the parent to accept that the child has its own ideas and impossible to accept that these ideas may be better or more advanced than the parent’s own. Thus parents may subconsciously be motivated to play power games with the child, rejecting the child because of the parent’s feelings of insecurity in his role as the child’s leader and director. As the child is entering adolescence, the parents must gradually learn to let go of their previous roles and become more of a friend or counsellor (who gives advice when asked). Otherwise a conflict may arise between the child who has the need to assert and affirm his personality, and the parent ,who does not want to let go of his role of director.

DO NOT WORRY

Worry is a direct message to the child that the parent does not feel secure, that he does not feel able to face the tests and difficulties of life. It is a direct message that the parent believes (and therefore it is true) that life is dangerous, that human beings (and therefore the child) are weak and helpless and very vulnerable to these dangers of life. When the parent is worrying about the child, then he is saying, between the lines, «I do not have faith in you, in your ability to overcome the illness or this problem. I do not have faith in your discrimination, in your inner strength, in your ability to surpass this difficulty». All this undermines the child’s feeling of inner strength and his faith in life itself. It is also an indirect but clear message that the parent does not believe (and therefore it is not true) in the existence of a divine power, a divine plan, a God, which is in some way connected with every being on the earth, and is somehow protecting, sustaining and guiding each being. The child will grow into an adult who will believe that the world is chaos, that harm can come to him through accident and that he is helpless to do anything about it. He will feel a weak, helpless, vulnerable victim living in a dangerous world. His basic reaction will be that which he learned from his parents – worry, anxiety and fear. Thus if we really want to help our children, we will work on our own sense of strength and ability to face life. We will develop greater faith in the spiritual truths confirmed by all religions and spiritual philosophies. We will increase our faith in a divine plan, which is bringing to us exactly the experiences we need in order to mature emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We also need to understand that our children are being guided by that same spiritual force, and are also passing through exactly the experiences they must pass through, in order to blossom into the great spiritual beings that they really are. A diamond starts out as a piece of coal and only through great pressure does it become a diamond. And when it is found it must be cut and rubbed so that its beauty may shine through. Gold is found in ore with other impurities. Only when it is melted and banged into shape does it take on a beautiful form. The same is true with the human personality. By facing difficulties which test its inner strength and diminish its egoism, it grows more mature on all levels. The greatest gift that we can give to our children is faith. Faith in themselves and their abilities. Faith in ourselves. Faith in God. Faith in life. Faith in the immortality and indestructibility of the soul. And for those of you who can accept the concept of reincarnation, faith in the fact that your child has lived thousands of lives, has grown into adulthood and died many times. He has millions of experiences stored in his soul memory. He has an inner voice within him which will guide him. It is not his first time on the earth. He has been here many times and is perfectly capable of surviving and succeeding here. If you cannot believe in reincarnation, then believe in the protection of Christ which he promised so many times. Turn yourselves toward that ray of strength, faith and let go of worry, so that your child may grow into a fearless and effective human being. Hiding you fear will not help. It will be perceived at least subconsciously by the child. The only solution is to root out fear with wisdom and faith. Thus the best way to help your child is to give attention to your own evolution which will be a stimulus for your child’s evolution. Our children are our greatest investment in life. They represent a continuation of life itself and determine the quality of life in the future. Basic needs which are not fulfilled in childhood, become major sources of problems, tension, fears and failure in the adult to be.

PROPER NUTRITION

A child’s nutrition plays an important part in his physical and mental harmony. Many forms of hyperactive and negative behavior have been linked with the excessive consumption of «junk food» which contain a high percentage of sugar and white flour. These two white substances are now known to weaken and undermine the functioning of the nervous system in children and adults. They lead to a depletion of B vitamins and important minerals, thus disturbing the functioning of both the nervous and endocrine systems. In a recent research study on children in a reform school, it was found that their negative behavior dropped by 50% when they were given vitamin B supplements. In another study on people with fear of crowds (agoraphobia), 84% found relief from their fear through taking vitamin B-6. Children need a variety of foods which give them the necessary nutrients for the proper functioning of their body and mind. The basis of their diet should be cooked whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat, cracked wheat, oats, lentils, beans and chick peas, etc. These whole grains should be combined with an equal portion of fresh raw vegetable, either whole or in salad form, such as carrots, beets (shredded), lettuce, spinach, celery, parsley, cabbage, etc. Some cooked vegetables may also be added, but they should not be overcooked so that the vitamins are destroyed or the minerals removed in the boiling process. In general, very little water should be used when cooking so that the essential nutrients are not removed. Oil should never be used in cooking. It may be added to the food in the raw form at the table. Fresh home grown sprouts are an abundant source of vitamins and minerals and vital energy. Many children like the responsibility of caring for sprouts and watching them grow. This basic diet of grains and vegetables can be supplemented with milk, yogurt, cheese, nuts of all kinds, dried fruits, fresh fruits, eggs and, if necessary, small portions of meat, poultry and fish. Many parents around the world today are bringing their children up as vegetarians. It has become a well accepted fact that vegetarians in general are much healthier than meat eaters. It is important that white sugar products, chocolates and other «junk food» products, be avoided as much as possible. They will make the child more nervous and lessen his ability to concentrate and learn. The child’s need for sweets and natural sugar can be satisfied through fresh dried fruits such as dried raisins, apricots, peaches, pears and apples. Parents may also learn to make sweets at home with pure products such as whole wheat flour and pure honey. Needless to say, parents should follow the same dietary guidelines.

STIMULUS TO GROW

The child wants to learn. It has the need to learn. Its survival and growth depend on it. All children are full of curiosity and would remain that way all their lives if that natural desire to learn was not turned off and, in many cases, completely destroyed by our present educational system and general social attitudes towards children. What are some of these factors which discourage the natural inclination of the child toward learning?

1. The mechanical approach of the present educational system does not allow the child to investigate his natural interests. He is required to be interested in a specific subject at a specific age and even at a specific hour of the day. And even if he should become interested in spite of all that mechanicalness, the moment he starts investigating that subject, he is told that he must now leave that, because it is now time to study another subject. Thus the child is completely disconnected from his inner motivation towards learning and learns to accept whatever is given to him through the school system, which occupies so much of his time, that he has virtually no time or energy for personal study of sometime that may really interest him. Learning loses its interest for him. It has no meaning in his life. It is no longer pleasurable.

2. The irrelevance of the material he is forced to study with respect to his daily life is another factor which dampens the child’s interest in learning. Very little attempt is made on the part of teachers to relate the subject that they are teaching to the problems the child is now facing or will be facing in the future. A human being functions on the impulse of needs. If what he is learning has no relation to his needs, then he loses interest in it quickly. Children are forced to memorise many useless facts in the present system. This can hardly be considered the preparation of a human being to be a thinking, creative member of society. It is more like the preparation of a number of programmed robots, without the ability to analyze and think clearly.

3. The fear of failure or of making a mistake causes a child to feel much anxiety with respect to the process of learning. Too much emphasis is given to grades and who is better or best, rather than to how much effort the child has made, or to what he has learned. The emphasis is on results, in terms of grades, and not on learning as a process of the ability to think. When the child does not do well for some reason, he is made to feel bad, rejected and inferior. This negative experience turns him off to the process of learning. He wants to avoid this unpleasant experience, the pressure, the tension, and the possibility of failure. Often his only solution is to decide to give up the effort altogether and take on the role of «the failure» and not try at all. In such situations the child develops a complex, or a blockage, towards a certain subject, or towards learning in general, and says to himself, «I cannot do that. I am not able». Thus for the rest of his life this belief prevents him from enjoying growth, evolution and learning. A human being who does not continue learning throughout his life is living «death» and not «life». Life by definition means growth, evolution. Death is the absence of growth.

4. Emotional problems with the family or with friends, or between other family members (i.e. the child’s parents) may disturb his sense of security and inner harmony. Thus his interest in learning and his ability to concentrate are obstructed. In such cases the child needs the parent to be a friend who can hear the feelings and problems of the child without judging or even advising unless the child asks for advice. These emotional problems must be worked out if the child’s energy is to be released and directed toward learning again.

5. A disappointment in social values and hypocrisy may cause a child to reject the society in which he lives and thus all the aspects of that system, including the educational system. When he sees that there is hypocrisy, selfishness, lying and cheating going on at every level of society, even among policemen, lawyers, judges, politicians, doctors and businessmen, why should he study what such a system wants him to learn in order to become a part of that system? Who would want to be a part of that system? A child has ideals, he has not yet compromised them for the sake of personal security or success. Such children reject society, the school system and even themselves, when they cannot find any solutions to the problems they see around themselves. Many such children end up using drugs as an escape from a reality which they see as a «dead end».

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?

What can parents do about this situation? How can they provide a home environment which will stimulate the process of learning in their children?

1. They can start spending more time with the children, learning with them. Not teaching them. Not solving problems for them. Not answering their questions. But sitting down and learning with them. This also means that the parent uses his evening hours for learning what is interesting to himself at home, setting an example. When the child cannot solve a problem for himself, he might ask for the parent’s help. The parent should not solve the problem, but rather ask the child questions which will direct the child’s mind in an analytical way so that the child himself may discover the answer. This is the «questioning» method used by Socrates which was so effective in bringing forth the truth which was hidden within the confused minds of the people around him. Questions are the parents’ best tool for helping a child. If that does not work, then the parent assumes he does not know anything (which in some cases, in this ever changing system of information, may be true) and starts, together with the child, to see where they might find answers. This research may take them to the child’s school books, or to encyclopaedias, or magazines or newspapers, or to persons or friends knowledgeable in a particular subject. In this way the child begins to understand that the whole world around him is a «giant book» from which he can always learn and find out what he wants to know. In this way learning is connected to life, and life to learning. Many parents feel that they are unqualified to help their children with their school work. They feel blocked themselves from learning these new methods. If you yourselves feel incapable, how do you expect your child to learn them. Parents must overcome their own fear of admitting they do not know, or of making a mistake, and put themselves through the learning process. Parents often deprive themselves and their children of time together so that they can make more money so as to pay a special teacher or send their children to a special school. In this way the parent works more to make money and thus has less time to spend with the child. The parent is more tense and tired and has less patience and energy for the child. In some cases, the parent feels resentment towards the child because he has been “forced” to spend so much money while the child still does not «perform» well (get «high grades»). The child sees the parent less and, when he does, is only asked about his grades and whether he has studied. He is not asked about his emotional life, his hobbies, his fears, his problems. The standard question is, «Have you studied?» Wouldn’t it be better for the parent to work less, save the money spent on teachers and special schools and spend the time with the child, learning together? Let it be clear, however, that the child should not be helped until he has exhausted his own personal mental energies. He must not learn to depend on anyone else for facing life. When and after he has tried, then the parent may work together with the child, learning together.

2. The parent cannot demand that the child study and learn when the parent doesn’t himself continue learning. When the parent destroys his mind in front of the TV or at restaurants every evening, how can he expect the child to value learning. The parent gives no value to learning. He gives value to «grades», to success, to what other people think of him and his child. He gives importance to his image of himself through the success of his child. How can the child concentrate when the television is blaring in the other room with all kinds of interesting scenes with violence, sex and fantasy? It would be better to remove the TV completely from the home so that all members of the family can direct their energies toward learning, creating and communicating, rather than becoming hypnotised and brain washed in front of the TV. Parents would do much better to read, to listen to music, to engage in hobbies and creative activities, or play games with the children. Many interesting books could be bought for the cost of a television. Important reference books such as encyclopaedias and dictionaries can be a basic part of an evenings entertainment. It is up to the parents to create that atmosphere. How can you stimulate your child’s interest in learning? The answer is simple. Stimulate your own interest in learning. Keep growing yourself.

3. If you are not satisfied with the quality of education that your children are getting, get together with other parents and teachers and express this to the school officials and department of education. It is your money, your taxes, which are paying for this system and for their salaries. They are working for you. You have the right and obligation to express your feelings, ideas and suggestions. This is more effectively done through group efforts. The parents in each school can form committees to evaluate the methods of teaching in their children’s schools. Do not wait for others to start. If you are interested, then you must start. It is your child’s life which is being formed and your money which is being used by that system.

CONSISTENCY

Children, just like adults, expect consistency from the people around them. Consistency means that there is an agreement between what we think, what we say and what we do. When a parent tells a child not to smoke and smokes himself, this is not consistent. When he tells him not to tell lies and then tells obvious lies to others in front of the child, how can the child respect such a parent? When a parent has two sets of standards, one for himself and one for the child, the child feels lessened, unconsidered, unloved, disrespected. When a mother forbids a child to wear make-up and spends time making up her own face, how can the child understand the obvious double message being given? When parents give one message with their words and another with their lifestyle, then the child becomes seriously confused. He is given a conflicting set of messages, a conflicting set of values, and does not know which is true. This leads to inner conflict and insecurity. It may also lead to bitterness and resentment against the parents, teachers and society. Why should they respect and emulate a society of weak human beings who don’t even have the strength to live up to their own values? They are unable themselves to employ their own advice. Thus the age-old «teach by example, rather than words», seems to be the best policy. Another aspect of consistency has to do with promises. It is very important to keep our word to our children. When we promise we are going to do something, or that the child is going to be able to do something, it is extremely important that these words become reality. When we go back on our promises, then the child loses trust, not only in us, but in mankind in general. He learns that a man’s words do not bind him to action and that he cannot trust anyone. He also learns that he, too, does not have to keep his word. This makes him feel like an isolated being in a society of people he cannot trust. When we promise that we will take the child somewhere or do something with him,or for him, we must make every possible effort to fulfil that promise. Which means that we must also be more careful about what promises we make. If we are not sure that we can execute a request, then it is better to say, «I am not sure, I will try, but I do not promise definitely that I will be able to». If we want our children to take their words and promises seriously, then we must teach them to with our example. This also applies to promises for punishment in the case of certain kinds of behavior or contracts which have been made with the child. When we have made an agreement that he will not go out to play until some specific duty or studies are completed, and when we let the child go out even though the agreement has not been fulfilled, we are again giving him the message that our words do not mean anything. We teach him that he can be irresponsible and get away with it. He then applies the same tactics as an adult in his home, at work and in society. He becomes an irresponsible being, with little respect for others. When we have agreed with a child about a certain plan of cooperation and behavior in the home (I mean agreement through discussion and participation on the part of the child) and he doesn’t fulfil it, although he has agreed and promised to, then it is imperative that the consequences be enforced, however unpleasant they may be for the parent and the child. It would be best if the consequences were agreed on before hand by both parent and child, so that there is less feeling of hurt or injustice. Consistency in thought, word and deed is essential for our own personal harmony, for social harmony and spiritual growth. Otherwise we and our children are lost.

OPEN COMMUNICATION

Most parents in this rushed and over-active society do not have enough time, inner peace and energy to communicate deeply with their children. They are so busy, running after the money they believe that they must provide for their children, that they ignore the children themselves. Communication is the process which opens up a channel of love, understanding and union between people. When it is lacking, no amount of money, education or material goods can bridge the gap that is created. Parents and teachers need to spend more time talking with children rather than at or down to children. Children, like adults, want to feel connected to others. They want to feel connected to their parents and teachers and others who they use as models in their lives. They want to be able to express how they feel, what they are thinking about, their fears, their joys, their questions about life, their ideas and creative inventions and discoveries. They want to know that someone cares, that someone recognises them, that someone is interested in hearing about them and appreciates them and respects them. They, too, want to know what their parents and others are feeling and what they are thinking about and are interested in. This is called friendship and it is one of the most important needs of a child. Parents can become their children’s friends. Children want to know why. Why the world is like it is. Why they are expected to do certain tasks. Why thy must not engage in certain activities. Why parents feel and act in the way that they do. When we say to a child, «No, you may not do that because I said so», we are insulting the intelligence of that child. We are saying that the child is stupid, unable and unworthy of any explanation on that matter. «Just do what I tell you. You do not need to know why I do not want you to do that». Parents usually resort to such demeaning behavior when they themselves are not sure of themselves, or have not clearly examined their motives and feelings, or simply have the need to play power games with the child to boost their own sense of self-affirmation. It is absolutely essential that parents explain the factors and thoughts which bring them to their decisions. Thus the child may understand what is going on in the parent and simultaneously feel that at least he is respected enough by the parent to deserve an explanation, even if he does not agree with it. When we do not discuss with the child, then he turns inward and realises the futility in trying to communicate with us, and thus starts to lie and hide the truth about his life style from us. The bridge of communication has been destroyed and consequently the only tool for resolving family problems is lost.The same happens when parents continually reject whatever a child says or does. He stops communicating. In order for parents to be able to express their inner thoughts and feelings to their children, they will have to discover them. That means they will have to do a certain amount of self-analysis so as to discover their beliefs and programmings. They may, in the process, find that many of their conflicts with their children are based on their own problems which they are projecting onto their children. Some examples might be:

1. Their own need for approval from society through their children’s success or behavior.
2. Their own need for a position of power over the child.
3. Their own fears and insecurities.
4. Their lack of self-confidence which causes them to lack faith in the child.
5. Their fear of the opinion of others.
6. Their anxieties about other problems in their lives, i.e., work, money worries and problems with their own parents.
7. Their own tired or disturbed nervous system.

These and many other personal problems may cause a parent to communicate abruptly, inconsiderately, and unrespectfully to a child, thus undermining the child’s self-image, self-acceptance, self-love and self-confidence.

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