BOUNDARIES AND CONSEQUENCES

A parent’s need to control and protect will always conflict with a child’s need for freedom and growth. From the time your child can move around independently, you will constantly monitor and negotiate boundaries.
As in the practice of Tai Chi, you need to cultivate “listening power,” to help you attune to your child’s phases and needs without imposing your expectations upon them. Pick your battles carefully.
In Tai Chi, “listening power” is not so much about listening with your ears. It is cultivating the ability to perceive what is happening, your child’s body language and what different behaviors really mean. In the martial art, one tunes in to these by reflecting body language, facial expression, and words; then responding intuitively without aggression.
In good parenting, there should be some, but very few, non-negotiable rules, and these should before the child’s safety and well-being, not the parent’s need for total control. “You may never talk back to me” is not a good one. “You may not cross the street without an adult,” is a much better rule. “Don’t talk to me in that tone of voice!” is unskillful. A better way to say it is, “I will listen you when you speak to me in a normal tone of voice.”
These kinds of boundaries must be set with “sinking power,” so that the child knows you mean what you say. Again, “sinking power” is absorbing the child’s energy without moving. Sink your strength into the earth with the relaxing breath. Allow the child to bounce off your energy, discovering without harm the nature of your power.
Let everything you have — mind and body, thoughts and reactions, plans and avoidance of plans — sink with gravity into your feet to beneath the earth. Relax your intention. Put everything underground where it can support you. Strewn anxiously through your body, it can only distract you.
Even the non-negotiable rules must change as a child grows. They won’t be the same for a three-year-old as a ten-year-old, and families that talk and communicate understand this.
To keep life simple, keep the non-negotiable rules simple and few. That way, you do not forever extend invitations for rebellion. Set these boundaries using all your principles. Relax, get centered, sink your power into the earth, and state the boundaries in a setting that allows the child to hear what you say, ask questions, and clearly understand that this particular rule is not negotiable. Have your child repeat the rule back to you.
You must also be able to explain what the consequences will be if the rule is broken, and have the internal power to follow through. Remember that your child will see, hear, and feel your true resolve. For example, instead of saying, “Clean your room right now, or you’ll be in trouble!” a better way to inform your child of consequences is to say (in a normal tone of voice), “You are welcome to join us for dessert as soon as your room is clean.”
Some children stay within the boundaries set for them very well; they like the safety of those invisible fences. Others are boundary-testers. They constantly push at the boundaries as if, because the boundaries are invisible, they aren’t sure the boundaries really exist. These kids used to be called bad or difficult. Now they are called “spirited,” a much better way to see them.
Boundary-testers are often people with a lot of power, energy, and curiosity, who, if not broken by harsh punishment and shame in childhood, will use that energy for great things and will probably be leaders and even visionaries in their adult lives.
If your child is a boundary tester, you can expect to have to pay much more attention to what he does. These are the kids that have an overpowering curiosity to see what happens if they try to cross the street without an adult or strike a match in a closet. They need to experience the consequences that follow when they test a boundary. Sometimes an explanation of why the boundary is there will do; you could get hit by a car and hurt very badly; you could start a fire, burn down the house, and be seriously hurt. Sometimes, along with an explanation, a consequence such as the removal of a favorite toy for a week, not being allowed out of the house for a day or two, and so on, needs to be put in place so the child knows the boundary is firm.
Try to anticipate and set boundaries ahead of time, so that the boundary is not set because of something the child does first. For example, the child goes into the street and gets yanked back and given consequences when he never knew that was a boundary in the first place. This is reactive, not responsive, parenting. This kind of boundary setting only encourages unsafe exploration, because the child has no idea what he can or cannot do without consequences.
With young children you must explain again and again why a certain consequence is being given to them. They are a bit like an old person with dementia! Take them through the whole story so they can link cause and effect, for their memories are short. Do not expect small children to remember rules and boundaries. Constant repetition and imitation will teach them. Without anger, simply remove the child from the situation, or show the child what to do by doing it yourself and then leading her body through the correct action as you speak. This way, the body-centered child learns to connect actions with words, and later the words will connect to right action.
For example, if the child inappropriately handles the cat, you can say, “We pet the kitty gently,” and do it yourself. Then take the child’s hand and repeat. Then let the child show you how she can do it by herself. If she is verbal, she will repeat the words; if not, you can repeat the words as she does the action. Again, do not expect her to remember this and never handle the cat inappropriately again. The whole sequence may have to be repeated many times to become a learned pattern of “how we love our kitty.”

Martial arts expert Dawn Callan defines boundary making beautifully:
“If you know how to set boundaries, you don’t have to build emotional walls.”

Setting boundaries for your kids helps show them how to set boundaries for themselves. Teach and model boundary-setting skills to empower your children to be free of fear and help them “danger-proof” themselves.
If you need to give a consequence when a child persists with inappropriate behavior, explain that if you let nature give her the consequence, she could get hurt (in the example above, the cat might feel scared and scratch or bite), so you need to teach her by giving her a consequence that helps her learn and remember.
Empathize responsively with her pain while holding firm with the consequence. Use your listening skills to let her know you understand it’s hard to stay inside when everybody else is playing outside. You can be sorry for having to impose consequences, while still letting the child know it is her own actions that brought about the situation.
Don’t ever withhold love and affection from a child as punishment for a misdeed. This reinforces the notion that it is the child himself who is bad, not the action he took or the words he spoke. When a child feels rejected in this way, he no longer links behavior with consequences — instead, he starts to believe that he is bad and he will begin to act like a “bad” kid would act. You have the power to define your child in this way, so use it carefully.
Try to avoid labels; if you must use them, use good ones that have the energy of love within them, and pride in who your child is inside: “I see that you’re really brave!” 
Use the concept of “listening power” to attune yourself to which consequences will work for each child under each circumstance. Remember, this is your path, too, so take the time to do it consciously as your spiritual practice, not just a thankless job you must perform because you’re a parent.
Don’t make consequences overly harsh, and link them as closely to the behavior as possible. For example, if a child knows it is a family rule to put dirty clothes in the laundry basket and he does not, he may have to wear something other than what he wants and then later, with your help (depending on the age), do a load of laundry himself.
You are not trying to inflict pain or shame, you are teaching him how life works: behavior has consequences, and each individual must take responsibility for their behavior. Share a story from your own life when you “misbehaved” and had to experience an unpleasant consequence.

© 2015 Vimala McClure

3 CONCEPTS & 1 ACTIVITY THAT CAN INFLUENCE OUR EFFECTIVENESS IN OUR FAMILIES

ONE
The first is the most important, and that’s the concept of principles. Principles should and actually do guide everything in the universe. Principles are true to all human beings all over the world. They are unchanging, unarguable, and self-evident. They are those things that all of us know in our hearts to be true. Principles are not internal as we may think, they are actually external to us. We can fail to live up to our principles, but the principles themselves remain, forever unchangeable.

Principles may be in harmony with our values, but they may not be the same as our values. Values change — they are what we like from time to time. But principles are true and unchanging. Gravity is a good example. You may not believe in gravity, you may not understand gravity, you may not like gravity, but if you jump off a building, you will experience gravity. There is no way you can change that. We have to go to great lengths to escape its pull, but when doing so we don’t change the principle of gravity. Principles are natural laws that involve cause and effect. They are long term. What you do today because of your principles influences you and your family and the people around you for generations to come.

Principles are true for all religions. We think that principles would be different in two very different sets of philosophical views, but they’re not. There is a basic agreement in every culture about principles such as integrity, kindness, and honesty — we all know they are essential for a healthy society.

TWO
Practices, on the other hand, change. Practices are the things we do that change with changing times. We may do something differently because of new knowledge. For example, a long time ago they gave babies opium when they cried. Now that would be considered child abuse. Obviously that is not a principle, it’s a practice. In the midst of complexity we always seek security in practices, so it is very easy to teach practices. A nurse mechanically rubbing a baby in a nursery is an example of practice without principle; the underlying principle for the practice of infant massage is the bonding between parent and baby. You may get short-term value from practices; you may get limited benefits. Principles, however, give you long-term benefits — on every level — that never end. President Thomas Jefferson’s words are worth reflecting upon:

“In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

THREE
A paradigm is a way of seeing things; it’s the picture we have in our minds of how our universe works. It’s our best guess at how things are, our best assumptions about how things work, where people are coming from, and what is true.

Paradigms, though, may be based on inaccurate information. Let’s say I invite you to my house in Colorado, and I mistakenly give you a map with a misprint — it says, “Colorado” at the top, but it is actually a map of Illinois. You get in your car and you get lost because you do not have an accurate map. That’s what a paradigm is : it is our map of the territory. But the map is not the territory. So our paradigms are subject to updating. This is where we try to cultivate teachability or humility, the frame of mind where you think you know what is right, but you are always open to new information.

For the longest time, we thought that babies couldn’t see at all when they were born, much less see in utero, so we behaved accordingly. Then suddenly — seemingly overnight — we discovered they can see and actually they can see quite clearly. It shifted our paradigm of what the infant’s reality is — and that shift continues to happen over and over again.

As soon as we think we know all about an infant’s experience — what the world looks and feels like to them — we discovered they know and experience more than we thought. At one point we also thought babies couldn’t feel until a certain age — that they didn’t feel pain! That paradigm was very convenient for adults, but it wasn’t true.

We correct our paradigms by listening — to other people and to information that comes to us when we study, when we think deeply about what our paradigms are, and by trying to adjust them to what is current, what is real. We use our principles as a guide for doing that.

A MISSION IN LIFE

One of the most useful projects I have undertaken is to write a personal mission statement for my life. I wrote a personal mission statement several years ago, and every year on the first of January, I review my statement and make changes to bring it into alignment with what I understand to be my chief principles. I also review the past year, and evaluate what I did and how I expressed my stated mission in my everyday life. If there is an area that is being neglected, I try to understand why and figure out how I might address that aspect in the coming year.

My personal mission statement comprises my guiding principles. It is statement, in my own words, about how I wish to be in every area of my life. Throughout the year, as I plan all my activities and goals, I review this statement and ask myself, “Does this project, plan, or goal resonate with my mission in life?”

You probably already have an overall sense of purpose about being good person, serving humanity, maybe even realizing God, and so on. Breaking that general purpose down into specific behaviors can be very helpful — you will find yourself doing more thinking, less reacting. We are often pressured, cajoled, manipulated, and maneuvered into doing countless things that do not necessarily move us any closer to our goals, and that may, in fact, pull us away from our fundamental principles. Stating these principles can be the first step toward gaining the inner strength and courage to be what we really, truly want to be, deep down in our souls.

YOUR “FLIGHT PLAN”
I read Michael Crichton’s techno-thriller Airframe, and it made me think about my favorite analogy about mission statements: the flight plan. Most of the time a commercial aircraft is off course, but using feedback systems it corrects its course and reaches its destination, usually on time. In much the same way, a personal mission statement serves as a flight plan. It tells you where you want to go. It can provide a system through which you can receive feedback to keep you on purpose in spite of the many events and decisions that may cause you to veer off your original plotted route.

In thinking about this analogy, I wondered what would happen if two pilots with different flight plans tried to fly the same plane? The plane would probably get off the ground easily, but as the pilots settled in for the trip, power struggles would erupt as each tried to steer the plane according to his or her own flight plan. Unless some kind of synergy could develop, there would be a crash.

In addition to writing personal mission statement, many people find creating a mission statement with their partner is an exciting and fulfilling thing to do — especially if you have children. Questions you never thought of before will come to you as you clarify what is deeply important to you both. In most partnerships, a shared mission can be arrived at joyfully.

© 2015 Vimala McClure

PRINCIPLE THREE: EMPOWERMENT

MODELING EMPOWERMENT WITH AUTHORITY

When my daughter was in high school, she had a friend who came from a very difficult home. She had been abused early in life, and her mother took hard drugs. This girl, I’ll call her Josey, spent a lot of time at our house, and I tried to mother her as best I could. Her envy of my child’s good parents and apparently wealthy lifestyle eventually became obsessive, and when my daughter expanded her circle of friends, Josey became enraged and turned on her. At the same time, Josey began taking drugs and got into dark music that my daughter didn’t like much. Joey became obsessed with the serial killer Charles Manson. Her room became almost a shrine to him. Because of her jealousy, her entire junior year of high school became focused on torturing and ostracizing my daughter, who would come home from school in tears from being tripped, slammed, and insulted by Josey.

Josey had a loud mouth and aggressive demeanor, and no one at this small-town, rural high school could stand up to her. My daughter — already a little different because she was from somewhere else, she was small and quiet, and a vegetarian — had no chance against this girl’s onslaughts. I watched her self-esteem plummet as the year went on. We talked a lot, and I tried to  help her keep her head up, to ignore Josey, and to concentrate on her own life. But in such a fishbowl environment, it was a hard test for her.

Just before spring break, Josey trapped my daughter in the girls’ bathroom at school and beat her up. She came home with a black eye and scratches all over her body, and with a note she had found in her locker containing a disgusting poem, basically threatening her life. Naturally, the lioness in me wanted to go and beat some sense into that girl and her no-good mother to boot. I called the school officials, who had to pull Josey off my daughter, and their reply was that it was “just one of those girl fights, it happens all the time.” I told them no, it had been part of a months-long systematic harassment of my daughter and if something wasn’t done I would get the law involved.

I photocopied the nasty poem and wrote several carefully worded letters, which were not excessively angry, but clear and to the point about the fact that I would go as far as necessary, under the law, to protect my daughter. I enclosed photocopied portions of the school board policy on violence and the poem, and sent these letters to the girl’s mother, the school officials, and the county prosecutor. I made it clear to the girl’s mother that if her daughter should even touch my daughter again, I would take her to court for stalking, harassment, assault, and whatever else I could think of.

In the meantime, I contacted the county prosecutor and informed him of the situation. I got a clear understanding of what our rights were. All along I told my daughter everything. She didn’t really want me to get involved at first (at that age, it is embarrassing for parents to step in) but I told her, “I’m really sorry, I’d like to go by your wishes, but since I’m an adult I can see the bigger picture. We’ve tried ignoring it, going to school officials, and going to her family. Now the situation is dangerous, and it’s my job as your mother to sep in and set limits if no one else will. We aren’t bullies, but we Don’t let bullies get their way with us either. I need to teach you how to deal with these situations now.”

I enlisted her agreement and support. I knew that the most powerful way to act in a situation like this is with calm perseverance, knowing your rights, and following through on your warnings. Emotionally, I’d have liked to do any number of vengeful things. But we couldn’t let ourselves be ruled by emotion or we would have become just like the bullies.

The girl’s mother was mortified; she called me and begged me not to go to the authorities. I empathized, saying it must be very embarrassing for her and I couldn’t imagine as a mother she would ever approve of such behavior. I didn’t mention what I knew of her own drug use. I let her know that if the behavior did not stop, I would have no choice bu to have her daughter arrested.

Then Josey called, crying, and apologized. I calmly explained how disappointed I was in her after I had taken her into my heart and home. I recommended that she get counseling and find out if any “medication” she may be taking could be affecting her personality so badly. Then I said I was sorry, but I could not allow her in our home again. Finally, in my lowest, most powerful voice — with “sinking power” rooted in the earth — I said, “Josey, if you even so much as look at my daughter again, I will have you arrested faster than you  can take a breath. I have spoken to the county prosecutor, and he is ready. Do you understand me?”

She sniffled, “Yes…” I said, “Please try to straighten yourself out. You are a good girl with a lot of potential and a lot of life to live. But you have to do it yourself, nobody will do it for you.” My daughter never had any trouble from her again. She was able to see how adults can work through difficult situations without resorting to violence or childishness. It was a great lesson in empowerment for us all.

© 2015 Vimala McClure

RELAX: intro

Note: I am using the principles, values, and practices of Taoism, and of its martial art Tai Chi. Taoism is not a religion, and I am not asking you to practice Tai Chi. I found a wonderful correlation between what I studied in Taoism and my own deep thoughts around what I believe is essential to practice “right parenting.” Whatever religion (or non-religion) or spiritual path you ascribe to, you will find compatible with the ideas I share with you here. I would love to hear about your experiences with every principle and value I write about.

“The simple reason for relaxation is that it renews us, purifies us, leaves us with a profound feeling of serenity . . .

In it, we are poised in our natural state.”

— Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao Daily Meditations

Relaxation, from the Taoist perspective, is the principle upon which everything is based. For us in the West, relaxation is something we do on our day off, or when we get a massage or do yoga. To us, relaxation implies being limp, flaccid, and empty. To Taoists, relaxation implies fulness. As a practice, it can take years to master and it is respected as a difficult discipline. But this is no problem — when you have children, years of mastering difficult disciplines come with the territory.

Yield

The word “yield” is often used to signify this principle. Again, it has a very different meaning in Taoism as it does in the West. When we consider the word “yield” as more than just a traffic sign, we picture surrendering to a stronger force — which in the West we often consider to be failure. We yield reluctantly, when there are no other options. To Tai Chi practitioners, yielding is the finest quality we can have. It means flexibility, clarity, faith, and surrender. It gets the maximum positive result from the minimum effort, and thus it is efficient, a much sought-after value in the West. Relaxation is a state of openness, allowing space for listening and receptivity. Taoists consider it a discipline because it takes a conscious intention to learn and practice it.

Relaxation is Essential

Relaxation— yielding to the flow of change — is essential for life. If we wish to continue to be full of life, we must learn to relax and yield, to flow. Like the young tree, we will be flexible and strong, ever-growing, with abundant youthful energy. If we cannot relax, we cannot listen to and truly hear out children, and we miss their messages to us, misinterpret their needs and wishes, and lose touch with who they are.

MAN MEDITATE 1_m

The Importance of Breathing

Like yoga, Tai Chi begins with slow movement and breathing. The combination of breathing and flow creates strength and flexibility. Breathing slowly and deeply increases our intake of prana — the life energy all around us. Prana is essential to our vitality. It is why we instinctively take a deep breath when we smell rain for the fragrant forest; these natural wonder are laden with prana, and our bodies crave the vital energy produced by them.

Controlled Belly Breathing

Slowing down your movements and breathing deeply are two easy ways to bring yourself into and relaxed and flexible way of being. You can teach yourself to go to these tools when you feel the tension of anger, frustration or fear hardening your heart and stiffening your body and mind.

If you do not practice meditation or deep relaxation on a daily basis, there is an easier method that you can incorporate into your daily routine with little effort. When children come along, you can include them in the practice, either doing it in front of them or teaching them to do it with you. I found with my meditation practice that my children became curious about what I was doing, and that curiosity led to many interesting and intimate conversations about God, nature, life, death, and miracles.

Controlled Belly breathing is a simple and effective practice. For this method to come in handy when you really need it (that is, when your child’s behavior has you one step away from doing and saying things you may regret), it helps to practice it every day, twice a day. It only takes three minutes, so it is easy to fit into your life.

“B” is for “Breathe”

I developed a kind of shorthand to remind me to do it. In my life, much of the time the plans that have not been thought out with my mission in mind do not happen. I label these plans Plan A: My ego plan. It is the immediate reaction to what has been said, or done; to your child’s crying or tantrum, your feelings of exhaustion, regret, being put-upon. The plan that ultimately happens, the response that always works, is God’s plan (or my higher self’s plan, “what would Jesus do?, “what would the Dalai Lama do?” – however you wish to put it). This is Plan B. I can always count on Plan B turning out so much better than Plan A that I learned to bypass Plan A altogether. Controlled belly breathing is a way to get you into Plan B; thus, the “B” is my reminder. “B” is for belly, “B” is for breath, and “B” is for be. This short little practice accomplishes all of those things in three minutes, so that Plan B can unfold immediately. 

How to Do Controlled Belly Breathing

  1. Sit in a chair and lace your fingers in your lap. Relax your body as much as possible.
  2. Blow out as much of the air in your lungs as possible, and imagine your tension going with it.
  3. Slowly breathe in through your nose, counting 1-and-2-and-3-and-4, feeling your belly rise as air goes to the very depth of your lungs, expanding your diaphragm.
  4. Slowly breathe out again, counting 1-and-2-and-3-and-4.

Repeat steps 1 through 4 for three minutes. You will notice a slight natural pause (not holding your breath ) at the upper and lower end of the breathing cycle. Let it be there. Keep your body relaxed, your mind engaged with the counting process and in relaxing your muscles.

Practice Every Day

I suggest you use this technique very consistently, upon waking and right before sleeping, each day for a month. Then you can practice under duress: during a traffic jam, a long elevator ride, waiting in the dentist’s office, on the subway, and particularly when you need a “time out”; when you feel your emotional temperature rising with your partner or children. You can excuse yourself (I like to go into the bathroom) or you can do it right then and there. You will feel Plan A turn into Plan B, you’ll calm down, center and focus your energies, and automatically use better parenting and partnering skills.

WOMAN MEDITATE 2_m

Sinking Power

When faced with a child who is testing your resolve, relax and yield in the manner of water. Absorb the child’s energy without moving. Sink your strength into the earth with the relaxing breath. Allow the child to bounce off your energy, discovering without harm the nature of your power.

Let everything you have — mind and body, thoughts and reactions, plans and avoidance of plans — sink with gravity into your feet to beneath the earth.

Relax your intention.

Put everything underground where it can support you.

Strewn anxiously through your body, it can only distract you.

This is called sinking power — and it is a good power to develop.

It can help you master all the principles to come.

The Principles of Tai Chi Offer Us a Metaphor for Right Parenting

An entirely different picture of “family” is emerging; 

most of the paradigms we have developed over the last millennium 

are no longer viable.

HEARTHANDS 2_m

Because our family structures, our values, and our experience of family will continue to change, it is particularly important for us to understand that being a good parent and raising healthy, responsible children requires us to be grounded in the deeper meaning of the role of parent. We must be able to change beyond what may now seem possible to us, and the only way to achieve that is to develop a firm rooting in the spiritual dimension of parenthood.

Parenting as a Mission

What I know without any doubt is that bringing every gift I came here with, every iota of strength and wisdom, every droopy love and loyalty, everything I have, to the task, the mission, and the gift of bringing up two souls to live their own lives and fulfill their destinies is the most important thing I have ever done, or ever will do. I don’t expect this singularity of purpose from others, but because of it I have been able to pay close attention to the dynamics, the secrets, and the lessons of real parenthood — much more closely, I believe, than many academic experts who observe interactions in made-up environments and offer theories on what is healthy or correct and formulas that rarely “work.” What I attempt to do, rather, is to go deeper into the idea that parenting is a mission, however large or small a part it plays in your life. From that perspective, everything you think about parenting changes. It is no longer a series of problems to solve; it is, instead, an important part of your personal growth, and even your spiritual path.

We Rarely Look Very Far Ahead

The biological urge and the psychological need to bear children rarely help us look beyond pregnancy and birth. We may fantasize about what our child will be like. We may form some opinions about home or hospital birth, breast or bottle feeding, and about if or when we will put our children in day care. But few parents take the time to discover and define how being a parent fits into their lifelong mission. Few of us look ahead to how this new person will change our lives.

Our Children Arrive with Agendas of their Own

Sooner or later our children let us know they arrived in the world with agendas of their own. While we have a tremendous influence over the way they express and live out their agendas, we cannot mold and control them. They have as much to teach us as we want to teach them, and the wise parent realizes this early on. Because of this give-and-take dance, we sometimes feel out of step with our children and conflict arises. We may try to teach at a moment when we should be receptive. Our children may not listen to us because they have not been heard. Therefore, the dynamic of opposition is always arising in these relationships. We can learn how to dance with this flow of energy.

Using the Principles of the Martial Art Tai Chi

For example, in the ancient Chinese martial art practice of Tai Chi, the goal is not to defeat an opponent. Rather, we learn to flow with the energy of opposition, assisting its movement toward its natural conclusion, which is exhaustion. We defeat the “opponent,” then, by his own momentum rather than by stiff resistance. Ultimately our goal — peace and harmony — is reached without overt violence or force.

The principles of Tai Chi are based upon eternal truths: Tao (pronounced dow) is the immutable Being, the oneness toward which all beings are moving. Harmony prevails when we find harmony with the eternal flow of Tao. Strength is found in the persistent, gentle flow of the life-force. Water is often used as a symbol of the kind of strength we wish to develop; the gentle drip of water on rock eventually carves that rock as no brute force can. A river made the Grand Canyon; no bulldozer could create such a phenomenon.

Right Parenting

I use Tai Chi principles to communicate what I believe is good parenting — right parenting. In Tai Chi, you learn how to flow with the life force of the universe. You do not oppose an attacker’s force, you step aside and permit the attacker’s life energy to pass. As he is flying by, you give him a nudge to assist him to get where his momentum is taking him more quickly. You learn to ground your energy into the earth is such a way as to have all the strength of the earth within your body. When you master this practice, you are unshakeable.

A wise parent learns to discover the life force within and move with it to guide her children. When met with opposition, she grounds herself in the eternal and allows the opposition to exhaust itself naturally. She remains calm, providing an immutable base for her children’s growth. In this way, she teaches them how the universe works, provides a model of healthy parenting, and gains their trust and respect in the process.

Beginner’s Mind

The experience of parenting is as instructive and productive for you as it is for your child. Children help us define and refine our character. They give us many opportunities, challenges, and tests along the way. If we look ahead to the coming years with, as Buddhists say, “beginner’s mind,” we are excited about everything we will learn. There is no guru or mentor that can give us greater or deeper teaching than our children.