Thursday, January 1, 2015

Day 68: Parenting as Duty vs Parenting as Self-Expression - Part 2 | Principled Parenting

Continuing from previous blog, Day 67: Parenting as Duty vs Parenting as Self-Expression - Part 1 | Parenting & Fairness :

‘So when you parent from a starting point of duty – you do the same. You do what needs to be done but once the need has been removed you stop, you retreat. Parenting is then a formality, you do it because ‘it is written somewhere’ that you have to do it. You don’t do it from a point of understanding, you don’t put anything from yourself into it, you don’t allow yourself to explore what is possible when there is ‘no more need’, you don’t do it just for the sake of it – the very notion of spending more time/moments with your child, giving more of yourself is seen as ‘a waste’ (just as you would paying more than what your debt told you to pay). And every time you ‘pay your dues’ as ‘tending to your child’ – you take note of it, you keep a record – just like you would with a bank account where money movement is involved. And then later, when you child is older – you can remind him/her of these records and what the child now ‘owes you’ in return. Look at all these things I did for you – now what will you do for me?
This is parenting on automatic mode – there’s no life in your actions, in your attention. You are simply reacting to impulses. The impulses stop and you stop. You did not do those things ‘for the child’ – you did them out of duty, you fulfilled your duty – but you did not fulfil your child.’

When you parent from a starting point of self-expression, you move beyond reaction to responsiveness. There is nothing else moving you but yourself. You child needs you and you tend to your child – and then some. You are not keeping track of ‘what you are giving’. When you react, your action is dictated by what you are reacting to, you do the bare minimum, you do it grudgingly, you always do it the same way because you do not know of another way.

When you respond from responsiveness, from response-ability – you move yourself to respond simply because you can. You do not yet know how you will respond, this is unpredictable – only the moment will tell. You respond to the same need in many different ways, because you response is not dictated, it is not determined by the need – it is an expression of yourself. And how you express yourself changes from moment to moment. You stop meeting needs and you start meeting moments.

Say, your baby needs a diaper change. When you change a diaper from a starting point of duty, you change the diaper the way you always change the diaper. You are meeting/fulfilling the diaper change. When you change a diaper from a starting point of expression, you look at yourself, you look at your child and you change your child’s diaper in a way that takes you and your child into account. Your child is in different expressions in different moments, and so every diaper change becomes unique as you meet your child and his/her need for a diaper change in that specific moment. The focus is on meeting the moment which is all-encompassing, the focus is not on the need.


The above piece I wrote as I finished my previous blog, to give myself a starting point for the next one to come (this one).

Now, as I have been going through my days since I wrote my previous blog and the piece above – I have been mulling over the point of ‘Parenting as Self-Expression’ and how to best explain it and describe it. Each time I think I found a good way to put it – and look at it again; I drop it, because in the very act of trying to describe it and define it – I am already limiting it in one way or another.

The reason why Parenting as Duty is easy to describe and explain, is because it is so very limited, repetitive and systematic. It is you behaving and conducting yourself according to particular rules that you follow. With Parenting as Self-Expression, I can give examples and stories – but those are only reflections of a ‘moment’ and they were only valid and true in that moment and they were only valid and true for me in that moment. What is a point of Expression for me, is not going to be a point of Expression for another.

Whenever I am looking into adapting a new skill or insight into my life, I often (if not always) have the tendency to look for guidelines, descriptions, some ‘how to’ to tell me what to do and how to act. I want to ‘read up’ on it and have as much information and knowledge available to myself that I can reference before I actually start walking/living/applying the new skill or insight into my life.

And even though I am doing all these things because ‘I want to be prepared’ and ‘really wanting to get this integrated in my life’ – it’s this search for descriptions, guidelines and info that in the end limits me and how I walk and live the point, because I am constantly reaching back to the information I hold within myself and trying to ‘make sense’ of the moment and what I am doing and trying to do it along the lines of the information. In those moments, I lose myself because I am holding knowledge and information as my starting-point instead of drawing from myself and simply walking/doing it and then I get disappointed with myself and the new point I wanted to integrate in my life, simply because I was not trusting myself to walk unconditionally in the moment.

The best way to find out for yourself what Parenting and Self Expression is – is to simply do it and live it. For me, this was realising all the moment where I was acting and behaving in a way which was dictated by beliefs, ideas, thoughts, emotions, feelings – were not supportive for myself nor for my child, and so to instead push and move myself to be here in every moment, to be clear and directive. I didn’t know what I was going to be doing, or ‘how’ I was going to be – but I knew that holding on to what I was doing was not going to work.

So looking at it now, you need to change the conditions that facilitate the ‘growth’ of Parenting as Self Expression – just as you would prepare the soil/environment for a new plant/seed to grow. Where for the Seed of Self-Expression to germinate and flower – breath, presence and directiveness representing the ‘optimal conditions’ within which Parenting as Self-Expression can emerge. Whereas holding on to thoughts, beliefs, morality, emotions and feelings – is like pounding a bag of salt into the soil and never ever providing water to your seed, pretty much killing any opportunity for your seed to unfold – you will remain stuck in status quo.

So it’s not about what and how you will do things, but directing who you are in every moment. If ‘who you are’ is in place, the rest simply follows naturally.

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