Rather than following the Q&A format in this month’s parenting newsletter, I sent out a copy of the handout I created for a talk I gave to a group from the Holistic Moms Network.
It was such a sweet thing to be in a room full of moms, some dads, and lots of lots of people under three feet tall! It is so heartwarming to see communities forming around the commitment to nurturing and trusting the child’s true path.
To all you parents out there, working so hard to heal yourselves while parenting in a trusting and peaceful way, I say THANK YOU. And to repeat the three pieces of advice that Robin Grille had for conscious parents when I interviewed him on my podcast: “1. Keep going; 2. keep going; 3. keep going.”
So here’s my handout, and keep up the good work y’all. xo
= == = == = == = == = == =
How To Have Happy Kids
(with simple tools you can find around the house!)
I define happiness as “being connected to and directed by your inner self.” Babies are born already knowing how to do this; they don’t have to learn it. We can’t teach this wholeness to them, any more than we can teach them how to breathe or how to feel hungry. However, there are many things we can do to hinder a child’s happiness, just as there are many ways we can hinder a child’s ability to breathe or to experience hunger in a healthy way.
Most people think, consciously or unconsciously, that a parent’s job is to mold, shape, train and teach their children to comply with a variety of external standards in order to become the way they “should” be. The currently miserable state of the world leads some of us to understand that most “normal” assumptions about childhood and happiness are tragically misguided. Rather than allowing children to develop naturally, common parenting practices mostly hinder the child’s true path.
The answer for how to have happy children is “simple:” Allow them to be exactly who they are born to be. But of course it’s not that simple, for two primary reasons: 1) because we were not raised this way ourselves; and 2) because we live in a world that is hostile toward this simple truth.
However, for those adults who are ready to nurture kids’ innate ability to be healthy and happy, I recommend giving them the following gifts: freedom, respect, support, advocacy and trust.
Freedom – Children who are being coerced, manipulated, pushed or nagged do not have the opportunity to explore their own curiosity, intelligence, passions and interests. The more room a child has for discovery, the more she will learn about herself, others and the world. With enough freedom, she will naturally stay connected to her inner self, and it will lead her everywhere she needs to go. This is essential for true happiness.
Respect – A child who is evaluated, shamed or disregarded does not have the opportunity to understand or value who he really is. Rather than developing his autonomy, he spends his childhood satisfying and appeasing the authorities who treat him as if he is severely lacking. The more a child feels respected, the more he experiences his own self-worth, and the more he can learn about the preciousness of all people.
Support – A child who is not supported slowly grows suspicious of her own feelings, thoughts, questions and desires. When her own experiences are no longer allowed to motivate her choices, she will come to feel hollow, uninspired and helpless about her personal journey through life. “Happiness” becomes to her a naive and unachievable fantasy, or it may be sought in inappropriate and unsuccessful ways.
Advocacy – People under 18 have very few rights, and the world generally sees children as less than fully human. The only way that a young person can experience life as a complete human being is if his parents act as a liaison to the outside world. This means protecting him from the pervasive and insidious oppression that is the accepted cultural norm, and advocating for his rights as a whole person.
Trust – Most fundamentally of all, people who do not trust themselves cannot be truly happy. After 20 years of breathing the air of suspicion, fear, judgment and doubt, children become adults who have completely lost touch with their inner self and their own truth. It is much more difficult to regain this after it has been so relentlessly banished, which is why (as a happiness consultant) I advocate so passionately for trusting children. Trust is most certainly a gift to your precious child, but it is also a gift to the world, and I believe the only hope our species has for a truly happy future.
Amy Childs | Happiness Consultant