Regrets of the Past
I often think back to when my daughter was really young
and wish I knew as much then as I do now.
My understanding has evolved over time
and my own emotional spiritual development has also evolved.
I still cry about the things I could have done better when she was little.
Desire To Improve
Even now with my daughter being 18 yrs old
I still desire to improve as a parent every day.
How can I show her more respect?
How can I help her to honour herself
and believe in herself?
How can I inspire her to chase her dreams?
How can I always be the safest and most trusting person in her life?
These questions are always with me.
A Parenting Rebel
I’ve always thought of my parenting style as Anti-Parenting.
I commonly call it Conscious Parenting because
It’s more descriptive and less contentious,
But Anti-Parenting has the ring of rebellion in it.
I certainly felt like a rebel when my daughter was born.
I was constantly criticized for all the unconventional ideas I had.
We’ve never had rules, punishments or consequences.
We decided things together, rather than laying down the law.
My kid knows she never HAS to obey me,
She is free to be herself.
Authentic Gratitude vs “Please” and “Thank You”
For example I never told her she had to say please and thank you.
This used to make people truly upset.
“You’ll bring up a kid with no manners” They told me.
What I did instead was to teach,
both by example and through words,
the experience and feeling of gratitude
and the joy of being appreciated.
Combined with the joy of giving and receiving.
With that information I encouraged her
to say please and thank you when she actually felt them.
Now she says please and thank you on her own, all the time…
and when she doesn’t you can still really feel
the sincere gratitude in her receiving.
It feels much more like being thanked
than an empty, robotic verbal response.
Encountering a Master of Gratitude
Recently I was at a social gathering and there were a few kids there.
As usual I ended up playing with them and making friends.
At the end one little girl who was probably 3 years old
came over to me to say goodbye as her parents getting ready to leave.
I had a bright orange tennis ball in my hand and she was looking at it.
I asked her if she would like it and she very hesitantly asked me:
“Of course my dear this is for you.”
Her face lit up with such joy and gratitude
that I was uplifted in an incredible way.
Two Equal Spirits Sharing a Moment
The two of us just sort of looked at each other and at the tennis ball
experiencing this wonderful energy of thankfulness and appreciation.
We were not an adult and a child,
but two souls, two spirits experiencing loving communion.
The Adult Comes Into the Picture
Then her father came over and said
“Give Vivek back his tennis ball.
It’s not yours and we have to go.”
“No no I gave it to her it’s hers now.”
He asked me “are you sure?”
and I replied “yes”
Then he said to her
“Honey, say thank you.”
The Command Deflated The Moment
In that moment the light left her eyes
and in a timid voice she said:
The power, joy and energy just evaporated from the two of us.
We were both sad and deflated by this experience.
I tried to recover some of it by saying
“She already did say thank you.”
But really it was too late.
Who Is The Teacher And Who Is The Student?
It is so interesting to me that this man,
who is really a very loving and conscious parent,
actually felt like he was teaching his child gratitude.
When in fact everything he could ever hope to know about gratitude
he could learn from his daughter.
She was a master of gratitude
Her natural thankfulness touched my soul so deeply
that I was transformed by it.
The effect she had on me was far greater
than me giving her the tennis ball,
or perhaps we were equals in that moment.
In any case the words “thank you”
were a pale substitute for
the spiritual interaction that we shared.
Kids can teach us more than we can ever teach them.
The lessons they have for us are so profound.
It is also true that they can learn much more and much deeper than we realize,
if we give them the chance and the appropriate guidance.
The trick here wasn’t to get this child to say please and thank you,
But to do what they can to preserve her natural spirit of gratitude
as she grows older and the world takes its toll.
Our kids need deep guidance and powerful modelling.
We must evolve how we treat children and teens
if we’re going to evolve the world.
We Must Respect Them As Equals, As Friends
I rebel against the idea that we must
be parents first and friends second.
What a shitty idea that is.
Can you tell I’m emotional about it?
I have always chosen to be a friend First.
But not a lousy friend… a good friend.
Think of all the things we value in a good friendship…
sharing of wisdom
sharing of insights
sharing of feedback to help improve each other
freedom to be who we really are
And the list goes on.
If you can live up to in your own life
and inspire in your child’s life
each of these qualities
you’ll be creating the most ideal family life and deep relationship with you kid.
Collaborative, Cooperative, Friendship Based Anti-Parenting
In my efforts to continually be a better father
I made this list and analyzed each one
to see how I could apply it to friendship based anti-parenting!
I hope we can spread this message to many people
And change how children and young people are treated.
How my heart sings at the idea of
more and more parents taking this approach.