Spiritual Work with Children/My Mistakes in Raising My Son
My Mistakes in Raising My Son
This book, probably, can be interesting not only to professional teachers but also to moms and dads, who want to raise their children as happy, harmoniously developed, worthy of love and respect people.
Here I want to share with you my personal experience of raising my son: how it should not be done — so that you, readers, avoid making such mistakes.
The situation, when the mother tries to teach her child to use the methods described in this book, is different from classes conducted for groups of children. When children go to classes, they are mentally prepared to something new, interesting; they see their peers doing the same in the class. A professional instructor easily attracts the attention of children and supports subtle emotional states in them, “tunes up” children to what they are suggested to do.
One of the difficulties in my case was to find the moment when it was not only me having time and desire to show something to the child, but he as well had a desire, readiness to learn.
It is easy to raise interest to such work in younger children (4-6 years old) using fairy tales, games. But by the time when I became familiar with these techniques, my son was already 9 years old and had a skeptical attitude towards these “fairy tales and sloppy sentimentality”.
This skepticism and protest were the result of my own selfish hypertrophied desire to raise him as a certain “ideal” as I imagined it. My love for him very frequently proved to be “blind” and unreasonable. From a very early age, I tried to teach my son a lot of useful things, and even succeeded in teaching him some of them. But all the efforts were made only by me; he just received joy and pleasure. I helped him up to climb to every new step, creating for him the states of emotional joy, enthusiasm, happiness (I was able to do it even without knowing the mechanisms). And he, as a result, got used to receiving everything passively, taking it for granted. By 14 years old, he could swim well, ski, ride a bicycle, and participate in kayak trips. I poured onto him love and happiness, trying to give him all this wonderful world, but forgot to take care that he, too, learn to be grateful, to respond with love and tenderness for what he receives, learn to give himself.
The older he grew, the more difficult it was to surprise him, to fill him with joy. And when I could not succeed, I very quickly turned from a mom giving miracles into a mom-bore, who tried to force him to see the beauty, to perform this or that exercise. I wanted so much to make him perfect that I destroyed this desire in him with my violence (“come on, try it, try one more time”). When forcing him did not help, I was terribly disturbed and could even shame him (“you do not want to do it, despite the fact that I am trying so much for you…”).
By the time when I realized all this (though in general our relationships were good), I had developed the stereotype of behavior of a bore, and he — the position of egotist. To change dominant stereotypes is much more difficult. And one has to begin this correction with oneself.
Moreover, I wanted this change to happen faster, right now. And so I continued to make it worse by persuading him — and only received answers like these: “it's boring!”, or “this is difficult, I don't want to…”, or “I am going to lie for a while, and you may continue…”
So my every mistake made the possibility of improving our relationships more and more distant, causing in him the reaction of rejection.
Contemporary children's entertainments, like constantly watching TV or playing computer games, create a very unfavorable background for life, which makes a child a passive indoor creature isolated from the beauty and the true life. To make a child who is already affected by this accept an active creative position is not an easy task.
With time I understood that the best way for breaking dominant negative stereotypes is to have trips to the forest in a group of like-minded people, when your child becomes an equal participant, and I am not a teacher bothering him. Conversations on the road or near a fire turn out to be unobtrusive.
If one manages to find like-minded friends on this path — it becomes much easier both for adults and for children.
But artificial attempts to achieve success lead to failure.
And the method of coercion always causes repulsion.
On the contrary, those things which I learned to present softly, with my own example, without constantly reminding and requiring, were easily accepted. For example, I explained to my son why I gave up eating meat and fish (explained only once!) — and he immediately understood that by eating bodies of animals capable of feeling pain, we participate in their killing. I offered him to ask, at least, forgiveness from those creatures whose bodies became food for him, and very soon he himself decided to switch to a killing-free nutrition. He violated it only once… That time he asked permission from me, and I did not dissuade him, suggested that he decide himself. He yielded to his desire — and next day fell ill. Then he concluded (himself!) that he was wrong. Since then neither in company of friends, nor in school, nor at a party — had he ever broke the principle of killing-free nutrition again, because it became his own inner conviction.
A five-year old daughter of my friend, having learned what burgers and sausages are made from, asked in the kindergarten not to add these things to her meal. Surprisingly, such a statement of a little girl did not anger the teachers; they did not begin to force her. They accepted her firm position with surprise and respect.
And now — about the most important thing. If our actions of changing ourselves and raising children have the highest motivation — love and aspiration for the Creator, and this becomes the foundation of life, the main driving force behind us — then it unites us all — the children of our Heavenly Father.
If we make even one real step towards Him — He makes ten steps towards us. He — our Creator — becomes a real Assistant for us and our children. And if children become confident of the existence of God, and even more if it is supported with their personal experience, then they understand ethical principles much better. Because in this case they can include these principles in their world view, having understood what God really wants from us. Moreover, children much quicker and easier than we, adults, accept God's truths.
If there is true love-aspiration to God, then it becomes much easier to change yourself. And the world around us changes as well, reflecting the love growing in us. And then our children most naturally begin their spiritual development.