Happy New Year to all of you! Let us hope and pray that 2008 will be a decisive year of steps toward healing the often overwhelming pain and darkness in our world.
Here at Christopherus, we like to think that one tiny and humble step in that direction is helping parents on their journeys to more conscious and healthy parenting - and homeschooling if that is the path they have chosen. A major part of this is offering suggestions and sharing experiences which can help a parent on her path of self development.
To this end, I have decided to share a few simple New Year's Resolutions with you all. These four resolutions - or intentions - are, for me, affirmations of steps that I know I need to constantly recommit to on my own journey of self development as a parent. Perhaps they will be helpful to you as well.
Number One - listening. I need to listen. To listen into, to listen directly, to listen behind. To listen within and to others. I need to listen more and speak less. I need to listen with the warmth and compassion which helps people - children and adults - speak what they need to say. I need to listen more to my teenage sons - without censure or judgment or fear. I need to listen to those I disagree with without letting my disagreement predetermine my thoughts. I need to listen without my emotions getting in the way and thus preventing me from truly hearing what is offered - instead of getting caught up with my reaction to those words. I need to listen to others and never let past experiences color what they say right now. I need to listen to my own inner wisdom - to learn which is my Voice of Wisdom and which is my Voice of Fear. I need to take words at face value - and to also be able to hear what lies behind, unspoken.
Number Two - separating my "stuff" from what others bring. I need to always be able to discern what is my stuff - my reactions, fears, childhood yuk, past experiences - which come barging in when a situation arises, through conflict perhaps, and which gets in the way of discerning what is another person's stuff. When I feel anxiety or anger at something one of my sons do, am I reacting to my own patterns, my own expectations and fears or am I truly embracing his experience and who he is? One major role of a parent is to hold and transform experiences for young children when they are too young to do this themselves - gradually one needs to let go of this and let the young person transform pain - successfully or not - by himself. The parental hand is still there in a gesture of love and support - but needs to know when to restrain itself and not infringe wrongly on the teen's growing sense of independence. When I confuse my "stuff" - when I cannot be clear on what my son really needs and what he needs to learn, then I am not able to give the appropriate gesture and I will probably turn away from him in anger or nag at him in fear.
Number Three - forgiving myself and others. Forgive, forgive, forgive. The spiritual implications of forgiveness are unsurpassed in their grace and ability to truly free us as individuals and as humanity together. I must remember this - I must not hold on to grudges or nurse scenarios of hurt, carefully prodding the anger to feel again and again the pain like the satisfying pain of an injured tooth which the tongue cannot resist touching. I can free myself of this need and forgive others and myself. I need to recognize that being the Martyr is selfish and helps no one, not myself, not other people.
Number Four - laughter and humor. When it all gets too earnest and too heavy - when my need to be steadfast in my resolutions threatens to turn me into a sour old bag - or, horrors, a self righteous old curmudgeon - I need to remember to laugh! When my son throws his coat on the table despite being told one thousand times not to, I can get angry - or I can attack him with his coat in a moment of play. I can laugh when meetings get painful. When anger threatens. When I get sad. When I forget. For when I remember who I am, when I remember my center and my task, then life is filled with laughter and everything is so much easier. I can listen, I can gently identify my "stuff" and I can forgive. I can laugh.