• Lessons from The Parent’s Tao Te Ching, by William Martin.

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    Take Care With Labels

    When you teach your children that certain things are good, they are likely to call all different things bad.

    If you teach them that certain things are beautiful, they may see all other things as ugly.

    Call difficult things, “difficult”, and easy things “easy”, without avoiding one and seeking the other, and your children will learn self-confidence.

    Call results, “results”, without labeling one as success and another as failure, and your children will learn freedom from fear.

    Call birth, “birth”, and death, “death”, without seeing one as good and the other as evil, and your children will be at home with life.

    Notice today how your children label things.

    “This stinks.”
    “That’s stupid.”

    Don’t correct them.

    Just notice and consider how they learned.

    Start today to teach a different lesson.

    This is a wonderful reminder that we are here as guides for our children but that doesn’t mean we are to guide them to be just like us. We are to guide them to understand and be their best selves. THEIR best selves. Pushing them to follow our thoughts and beliefs about everything creates rigidity, anxiety, and in adolescence even more fuel for rebellion. It is our work as parents to see the best in our children and trust them. Yes guide strongly and protect of course when there is a safety concern, but all the other times of the day, all the other areas and questions, and places of exploration can be open and we can be curious and wonder how they see and think about things. If we are always guiding them from our own rigid perspective we miss what they have to teach us about life and the world. As we grow up, especially if we were parented from a rigid perspective, we loose our wonder, joy, and connection to the moment that children naturally live in. This is one of the blessings that children bring to our lives as adults. They help us remember the preciousness of life and the moment. They help us notice all the little things that are full of wonder and beauty. They help us slow down, surrender, notice, and remember the point of this whole wild and wonderful thing we call life…that is if we let them.