Our Children in These Times of Change
Whether you are a new parent or a “seasoned” parent, you know that parenting is a full-time job. It requires patience, understanding, endless energy, emotional endurance. And the list goes on. However, what I’ve found to be true is that what our children require most is Love — and the rest will fall into place naturally and effortlessly.
I know this may sound like a patently obvious, if not naive, statement; but after raising two boys who are now 15 and 24, I want to share with you what I have learned, and continue to learn, about Love “in action” and what that awareness has taught me.
An experience which greatly impacted and influenced my parenting approach, and one which further deepened my understanding of the Conversations with God principles, happened when my mother passed away. My youngest son was six years old. Only a short time into my mom’s memorial service, my son started to leave his seat. While his father and his grandmother attempted to keep him quiet and make him sit still due to their understandable uneasiness, I asked myself the question, “What would love do now?” I realized that this beautiful child would not act in a way that disrupted the service, knowing the love my son had for my mother and the powerful connection they shared. So I let go of control. And what happened next was stunning.
Without saying a word, my six-year-old son moved from person to person — from my mother’s caregiver, to my mother’s best friend, to my own best friend, and then on to my brother. He simply sat next to each of them, working his way through the room, letting others know that he felt the same way they did: Sad. I sensed that he knew what was best for him, and apparently so did he. He felt moved to both give and to receive comfort.
After the service, each of those individuals came up to me and shared how he had profoundly shifted their sadness to love. I realized that day that my parenting could be more effortless if I would genuinely love and embrace and trust what was showing up, allowing myself to be guided by Love rather than by Fear and all of the Dos and Don’ts of parenting that I’d been taught. Perhaps it was just that easy.
Love is a feeling. It is a reflection. It is a connection of energy that readily resides within a parent and a child. It is the key to unlocking effortless communication. Listening and being fully present to what our children are expressing, whether in words or actions, allows us to become more of a guide than a parent. When we understand that our children come here with a specific soul agenda, and each thought, each expression, and each action is fulfilling that agenda perfectly, we can let go of beliefs that our children will choose the “wrong” choice and, rather, trust that they will make the “right” choice…the one that feels most in alignment with Who They Are.
When we listen and when we are fully present, providing a palpable experience of what our Love is, we shift the parenting dynamic and create a more natural dovetailing of instincts, allowing our children to express Who They Really Are while we do the same! Parents and children have a natural rhythm of feeling each other’s intentions, even when personalities may sometimes seem at odds, understanding that, no matter what, the Soul’s agenda, the purpose for which it came here, is still being fulfilled.
Of course, we will have days that do not seem so effortless regardless of our best intentions. It’s a messy and wonderful process. And although some might argue that this perspective lacks discipline, I believe that gifting our children the freedom to choose their path provides them the opportunity to determine his or her own course and to develop their own sense of inner guidance and self-discipline.
What would it be like if we lived in a world where both parents and children asked more often, “What would Love do now?”
(Laurie Lankins Farley has worked with Neale Donald Walsch for approximately 10 years. She is the Executive Director of his non-profit The School of the New Spirituality and creative co-director of CwGforParents.com. Laurie has published an inspirational children’s book “The Positive Little Soul.” She can be contacted at Parenting@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
Neale Donald Walsch said recently, “A master lives in gratitude at every moment.”
How can we guide our children to find their own meaningful experience of a life of gratitude?
In the U.S., the month of November is often a time to reflect on one’s good fortune. As we approach Thanksgiving, social media is inundated with “30 Days of Thankfulness” posts, while many renew their attention to charitable giving and volunteering as an outpouring of their gratitude. These phenomena are demonstrations of one of the core concepts of Conversations with God, “There is Enough,” which teaches us that the world is an abundant place in which every person can get what they need and that scarcity only exists as we, collectively, allow it to persist. Feeling this way in November is a great step toward a thankful life, but what about feeling gratitude during the other months of the year?
In a society which is centered on external factors of happiness — acquiring more material things, improving physical appearances, and glorifying competition — it can be difficult to instill a constant and unshakeable sense of inner completeness in your family’s hearts and minds; however, when approaching life through your spirituality, you learn that instead of looking out there, you must start searching within to find fulfillment. In fact, the root of all happiness is gratitude. Being grateful helps us to see everything more positively, even the aspects of our lives we wish to change. Encouraging children to embrace and embody gratitude assists them in their spiritual development, as well as their view of the world around them.
Children learn by example. One way to demonstrate your own gratitude is to, as they say, find the silver lining in negative situations, and share those sentiments with your children. Another way is to share your abundance with others by donating time, resources, or just a kind word to another. Giving of yourself to another person helps you appreciate your own gifts and blessings. A daily practice of gratitude allows it to permeate your thoughts more fully, becoming an integral part of your Be-ing. To this end, children, whether school-aged or even younger, can contribute to your family’s daily gratitude journal by drawing pictures, writing words, or even verbally expressing gratitude (for you to write for them).
Whatever way you choose to bring an awareness and practice of gratitude into your home, it will bring you closer together. I believe you will find that it takes the edge off of a rough day, endears you to each other, and easily becomes a large part of your dialogue and vocabulary…allowing you, and your children, to live in gratitude at every moment.
(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of www.cwgforparents.com. She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities. Her books are available at www.withmychildseries.com. To contact Emily, please email her at Emily@cwgforparents.com.)
Spiritually-minded families are “awake” to society’s challenges and advances. Your family may speak freely about helping others, how the world works…or doesn’t, how war is not beneficial, and/or environmental sustainability. Children have a clear sense and understanding of the spiritual concept “Love is all there is,” so these topics are easy for them to latch on to and hold dear.
What happens, then, when these spiritually-minded and socially aware families experience a contentious political cycle or hear of tragedy in the news? The news can lead children to experience distress and, yes, even anger when they observe things that they don’t think are nice, fair, or “right” (within their own understanding of the words). They may even point out a politician or person in the news and say things like:
“He tells lies.”
“He doesn’t seem care about poor people.”
“He doesn’t seem like a nice person.”
(Angst is building…)
“He is so mean!” “Mommy – that man is bad!”
Parents who live a life inspired by the messages of Conversations with God might ask how to best support their children and seek ways to help their children have more clarity and understanding around their thoughts and feelings. Many parents who believe that there are no absolutes, such as “right and wrong,” “good and bad,” etc., are replacing those Old Cultural concepts with different notions:
Is my choice beneficial or harmful? Positive or negative? Productive or non-productive?
Do my actions demonstrate Who I Really Am?
So when your child feels and expresses such powerful and raw emotions, you might wonder how to — or if you should – begin a conversation with your child, creating an opportunity to explore more deeply how they feel and why they feel the way they do.
Conversations with God says “There is nothing you have to do” and “There is no such thing as right and wrong.” Therefore, you may want to begin with the understanding that there is nothing wrong with a child’s expression of anger and you don’t have to do anything. You can choose to let her have her own experience of the event or you can choose to help her process it. Either way, you may want to start by remembering that what your child said is not about your parenting; it is not evidence that you haven’t taught her principles of love and acceptance. It is about her own sense of how the world should work.
In fact, that very outburst may facilitate a deeper remembrance of Who She Really Is. That moment of passion might be the turning point which leads her along a path toward establishing world peace!
Given that she is an individual with her own sense of fairness, you may wish to help her process those feelings through the lens of Love and Spirituality. Rather than “making her wrong” for calling the person “bad,” invite her to explore and discuss her feelings and expressions. Assist her in creating constructive and meaningful ways to share her message, not only with the people she agrees with, but even those with whom she does not agree with, gifting her with the level of clarity and wisdom to effect positive change within herself, within her personal relationships, and within the world.
Helping your child arrive at the decision rather than telling him or her what to do is a huge step in his or her spiritual growth. The New Spirituality is not about prescribing behaviors or telling children who to be; it is about guiding them to choose and create, to experience and demonstrate, to announce and declare Who They Really Are.
(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of www.cwgforparents.com. She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities. Her books are available at www.withmychildseries.com. To contact Emily, please email her at Parenting@TheGlobalConversation.com or Emily@cwgforparents.com.)
The biggest quest in this life, if you are a parent, is to assist your child/ren to know Who They Really Are, and the fact that you are their gateway into this world can make the feeling of responsibility overwhelming. The first thing you have to do is understand that you have absolute freedom to be the human/person you wish to be–and that it has nothing to do with how much money you have or don’t have, how much love you had or didn’t have, or even how you were treated as a child yourself. Once you understand that, showing your children how they can be Who They Really Are is much, much easier.
Every child has the same basic question, and you can be sure that it is in their mind, whether they ask it out loud or not. The question is: “Who am I?” And the older children grow, the more urgent the question becomes. Life — for all of us, but for children, especially — is a search for personal identity. Children learn that the way they comb their hair, the clothes they put on, the way they walk and talk–everything, in fact, about the way they are, begins to form their identity.
Not coincidentally, in Conversations with God some of the most important questions asked are “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” Answering those questions leads to an understanding of “Who We Really Are,” the exploration of which begins with the Soul.
Who You Really Are is, of course, about much more than what you do for a living, where you live, how you look, how much money you make, how you dress, etc., as we noted above. Most adults know this. Children, on the other hand, may not. Which is why they will beg for that new piece of clothing that is now the fad. (“Mommy, I’ve just got to have it!”) Or that new gadget that has hit the streets. (“Everybody but me has one!”) It’s not easy to teach your children that Who You Are is more about how you see yourself, your intrinsic self-worth, and the love you extend to yourself and others. These are adult concepts that children cannot be taught through talking nearly so effectively as through showing.
That will be very challenging if we have not asked and answered life’s most important question ourselves.
Because “Who am I?” is asked so much, it makes me deeply aware that we, especially parents, are, in fact, on a great quest to find out Who We Really Are, and who our children are in relation to ourselves. That, it seems to me, is the whole purpose of life. It is a pretty deep thing to think about (unless, as Neale Donald Walsch would say, it is not!) So the big question here is, if I am still learning who I am, then how in the world do I show my children who they are?
Here is my thought. Maybe, just maybe, we each already know, but ignore it. Perhaps we come here to remember who we are. Perhaps through our remembering, disguised as a quest of discovery, we experience the true magnificence of being, and of our connection to everything.
What we are invited to remember is that we can be anything we wish to be. We are each constantly creating a new “Me” in every moment, just as if we are each a division of cells, sloughing off and rebuilding ourselves. There is no amount of knowledge that can show us to ourselves. Reading, taking a class, and listening to the world around us are all great ways to gather ideas of who we can be, but the “Who” we are must come from inside of us. How we live, act/react, hear and interpret our inner selves (and the world) make up “Who” we are. And that is the message we are invited to send to our children.
How do we best send it? By demonstrating it. Children watch us. They watch us more closely than we might think. We are “modeling” for them every day in every way. And they will soon begin to imitate us. You can watch it happen!
No one can truly change or mold your children into someone different than that which they naturally are. The attempt by some parents to do so is one of the biggest mistakes that parents can make. We each, alone, get to do that for ourselves; we each, alone, get to choose Who We Really Are. As your children watch you do this, they will learn how to do it for themselves.
As an adult you can do this by understanding your own voice and accepting it…not only listening to your inner voice and the power of your words, but also the simple action of hearing (listening) to your outer voice…the sound of your own voice. Listening to and honoring your real self is the only way to consistently present your true self in the world. And doing that will be a wonderful modeling for your children.
Looking for tools in this? Well, I can tell you that understanding the messages of Conversations with God assists me in every moment of my life as a parent and in my connection with my spirit. I have been lucky. Since I was a child I have had the understanding that we are free to love the things we love, dislike those things that make us uncomfortable, and feel freedom in making those choices. But I am not certain that most people truly understand how free they are to think and feel as they choose. And the CWG books have put me back in touch with what I, myself, knew as a child.
Just think about that for a few moments. Ask yourself, and then ask your child (at an appropriate age, of course): Do you feel free to make your own decisions? If they say “no,” ask them why not. But be ready for answers that may relate directly to you.
If we do not feel the spiritual freedom of which I speak to define ourselves, for ourselves, based on our own inner understandings from a very young age, then we might actually begin to limit our understanding of ourselves. Through this limitation, we might actually take steps down a path which leads to what I call a “society box” in which we cage the human emotions that we all have, contradicting the messages of our own knowing and doing what others think is best.
To help your children avoid this trap, begin by showing and telling them that none of those things mentioned a minute ago matter, that all that really matters is how they see the world, how they feel in it, how nature brings life effortlessly to itself, to them (and to us), and that Life just happens.
It feels to me that being Who You Really Are should happen effortlessly even through the uncomfortable times. What does “effortlessly” mean? It means allowing life to unfold naturally, as it comes, without struggling for or against it. In this you will automatically be Who You Really Are.
Interesting that we are told by others to “just be ourselves.” Why would that even come up? Shouldn’t being ourselves be obvious, natural, and effortless to us? How is it really even possible to be anything other than “yourself?”
Teach your children to just be themselves, and do this by you just being yourself, authentically and openly in every moment, and you will have taken a huge first step in answering parenting’s toughest question: Who Am I?
(Laurie Lankins Farley has worked with Neale Donald Walsch for 10 years. She is the Executive Director of his non-profit School of the New Spirituality and creative co-director of CwGforParents.com. Laurie has published an inspirational children’s book “The Positive Little Soul.” She can be contacted at Parenting@TheGlobalConversation.com.)