When I think back on my own childhood and even when I was raising my own children, I can see how the conversations that took place at the dinner table or just in general, were not just harmful but proliferated the old beliefs of this world.
There is no condemning our parents or ourselves for that. We can only work within our present level of understanding. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, if we could have done better in any given moment, we certainly would have, our parents included. It’s really that simple.
The conversations I grew up listening to in my household were based in complaint, whether it was complaining about current and past circumstances or complaining, judging and criticizing others. And I know it wasn’t just my family. It’s a collective consciousness that we all share a part in.
How different could our lives be, not only for ourselves, but for our children, if we were to hold different conversations in each other’s presence? To actually be aware of what we are saying, when we are saying it and how our words and comments may be teaching our children something that shouldn’t continue to be perpetuated in this world.
When a child hears a parent complain about or judge another human being, children learn that complaining and judging is not only a way of life, but is an acceptable and normal way of life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those are old, borrowed beliefs that have never been questioned.
What if we started to hold healthy, introspective conversations? Wouldn’t that be something new? Let’s say that we were sitting at the dinner table and our child started complaining about a friend doing something they didn’t like. How could we start a conversation that would produce a new understanding in our child?
First of all, we must understand that complaining is a form of judgment. In judgment there’s always comparison, and as such, judgment separates us because it always places one above another in a belief that we are different (better or worse) from what we judge.
A valuable new approach could be to teach our child to go inward and search for similarity in themselves about what they are claiming they don’t like about their friend, of course, working within the parameters of the child’s age and level of understanding.
When having a child search for similarity within themselves, it need not be specific. For example, let’s say your child shared with you that he didn’t like his friend Jimmy because Jimmy keeps taking his friends away from him. To see similarity in that doesn’t mean necessarily that your child also takes friends away from others (although that may be the case and that question could certainly be raised).
To see similarity would be to ask your child to see and find in himself where he might be taking something (anything) from others in the same kind of way. Perhaps at home with his siblings, he always insists on being the one who gets to choose what TV show to watch. Perhaps he always talks over his siblings or friends, both of which are the same as taking away something from another.
Send your child out into their day on a treasure hunt of themselves as often as possible. This kind of inner work teaches inclusion, not exclusion, and it eventually becomes a profitable way of life. It reveals that we all aren’t as different as we appear to be on the outside.
One of the great benefits of this kind of understanding is the flipside. When one makes it a way of life to see similarity instead of difference, then when a moment comes where your child’s friend says something to them like “You are mean”, your child, through their own inner work, will immediately go introspective and work to see within himself areas in his own life where he has, in fact, been mean. They won’t see the friend that made that comment as “the enemy”, because they will know that a truthful message was delivered to them by that friend. The friend was just the “vehicle” that delivered that hidden similarity for them to see. As such, judgment, blame and resentment are then replaced with gratitude.
The only way blame or judgment can enter the equation is when we fail or refuse to see the similarity in what Life brought to us in the moment for us to see, through comment or action.
Compassion can’t be born in a human being without seeing our similarity in one another. This can be quite the challenge at times, especially when it comes to something that nothing in us wants to see. However, we must see it in order to bring something new into this world. Agreeing to see these similar (negative) parts, is the same as freeing ourselves from those parts. Those parts don’t exist in just some people, they exist in all people in one way or another.
Those negative parts have remained hidden within us because up until now they haven’t been questioned, they’ve only been projected outward as existing in “others.” We now can see differently through similarity.
Exercise for the Week: Become aware of comments made by you to your child or your child to you. If a comment took form as a complaint, go inward, or direct your child to go inward, and work to see similarity in yourself.
Image Courtesy of: Pezibear