The Tao of Parenthood
Can the Tao make you a better parent? I have two young children. I’ll be honest, I’m quite hands off in my approach to ‘discipline’. You see, for me, whenever I feel myself disciplining my children, there’s a nagging sensation inside me that keeps chanting over and over, “you’re taking away his oneness, you’re taking away his oneness.”
By then I’m mostly inclined to agree with my inner whisper and I do feel like my attempts to ‘discipline’ my children are nothing more than a form of conditioning whose net effect is that my poor kids do what I tell them in place of doing what comes instinctively to them.
There are times when I just feel like I’m knocking their beautiful, natural, chaotic little mischief out of them with my stringent requirement for order.
You might say “well that’s a good thing. you keep them right and they do as they’re told and they turn into good little children….” but really, does it really work like that?
I have countless friends who have been loving, affectionate parents and provided strong disciplined households yet their kids end up running off the tracks anyway and getting into all kinds of trouble in spite of all this love and direction.
Was it too much love? too little? too much discipline? too little? on and on the questions go but it kind of brings me back to some of the tenets found in traditional chinese medicine (TCM), descended from the wisdom of the taoists, in that…potential is inherent and inevitable.
In TCM, we all have Chi. Every living and inanimate thing in the universe has chi. It is what holds the bits and pieces (and gaps and spaces) of us together (or apart!). In that dichotomy, if a patient is diganosed with an illness, it is believed that that illness’ chi will be affected by the introduction of other things (herbs, for instance) whose natural chi effects the chi of the illness in a more positive way, thus bringing the balance of the body back to its healthy state.
To my western mind, I sort of visualise this as the laws of attraction in magnetism, but on a much more universal stage (think building blocks of life, physical, spiritual, emotional, mental – every label you can think of and apply to health/life).
Imagine an original magnet (you) sitting in the centre of a table. By introducing other magnets I can affect the position (balance) of the original magnet by swaying it here or there. When you become ill, another magnet has moved you out of balance. You always had the potential to be thrown off balance inside you. I kept you in the centre of the table by my tireless introduction of counter magnets to every adverse movement.But the potential to go either way is always inherent and constant.
In the scenario of my kids…consider they already have inside them all the potential to be naughty or nice, free or imprisoned, up or down etc. and no matter what I do, what they do (as a result of all these other magnets) is a universal inevitability anyway…
“The ony place you’ll be when you get there is here.”
So, Am I Really Doing My Children Any Bad by Disciplining Them?
Well, here’s my take on this.
If my kids already have inside them the potential to be whatever they’re going to be (including the stupidity of the Tao), like the magnet above, then no matter how many other magnets I throw around them to knock them off course, I can’t remove their potential.
All it’ll take is another magnet…