image from clipartkid.com
My kids have just turned 6 and 8, so I am now, as always, moving into a new phase of parenting. Their needs have evolved from the basics of being fed, watered and kept physically safe, and so, I’m exploring how I want to support and enable them as they grow into bigger human beings.
Being a parent seems to require an ever-changing set of competencies – as our children grow up their needs change. The only constant of parenting that I see, is always being available as a conduit of unconditional love and connection, which is an innate standard human attribute (even if we aren’t always accessing it in every moment).
From reading other pieces on this site, you will notice that any article is pointing to something that is available to us all – an innate wellbeing and wisdom, and of course parenting is no exception.
In my blog series – What I have learnt from a 2 Year Old – I have written several pieces on my realisations about how life actually works, just from watching my little kids.
I have seen more about how the system and the human mind works at a fundamental level from these pure, raw, yet-to-be-conditioned versions of humans (aka Max and Abbey) than I ever have from adults.
If, as parents, we can see and recognise that our kids have innate wellbeing, and inner wisdom to guide them, and we have emerged from the basic ‘keep them alive’ stage of parenting, what do parents need to do?
If our children have ‘inner wisdom’ – aren’t we essentially redundant?
Well, not really. I see we have an important role, although the clarity of principles behind that role, and the ‘space’ it comes from might be different to many parenting mandates. It’s our role to help our children keep realising they are spiritual beings having a human experience – to help them navigate being human in the game of life. There are two aspects of that:
First, our role as a parent is to point them back to their innate wisdom
As humans, we experience the world via thought, and its dynamic arbitrary nature means we don’t always recognise or listen to our innate wellbeing and wisdom, and we get innocently taught and normalised to ignore and override it. So we need to help our kids see through all the conditioning, albeit well-intended, that they are subjected to. We all have moments (some longer than others) where we get lost to our true resourceful nature. This is compounded by the fact that it is very easy with our parent hat on, to be blind to the fact that our kids have that innate wisdom (and are actually much closer to being awake to the true nature of thought, and the world being inside out than we are as adults.)
image from philsp.com
When children see their innate wisdom and the inside out nature of life, everyone benefits.
Well, bless us, we love them so much that sometimes we can’t help but think we want them to avoid feelings of sadness, fear, and anger, but the greatest gift you can give them is to point them to the true nature of those feelings (i.e. they are made of thought) and that they don’t need a ‘solution’ to them. So rather than try to fix their outside world to protect their emotions and help them be happier, we need to enable them to realise that their feelings do not come from the outside world. It might look and feel like it does sometimes, and there is nothing better than a quick cuddle or removal of the ‘trigger’ circumstance, but let’s balance that with pointing them to the true nature of life, and their own ability to be okay – whatever is going on around them.
For example, sometimes we identify behaviours in our kids, as ‘just a phase’ (sleeping badly, only wanting to eat specific foods, thinking boys are made of worms….) and we know that ‘in time’ it will change. What we mean by in time is that their own realisations will shift how they see the situation, and the resultant behaviours will change. If we stay clear in our own wisdom and respect theirs, this takes care of many of our parenting woes. However, there are some situations that they need the input of a piece of learned knowledge – this leads to us helping them in the game of life.
Second, our role as parents is to help our children understand and navigate the ‘game of life’.
Image from gamehouse.com
The ‘game of life’ is a made-up phrase to describe the societal constructs that we live and operate in – work, career, relationships, education, money, friends, status, ‘health’ etc. From how traffic lights work, to the power of google, to how to have table manners that don’t offend fellow diners, to how to get ahead at school. There are things in the game of life to do, things to have, and things to be, that will enable you to be deemed ‘successful’ or not. For example, if you want to be successful as an estate agent you probably need a different set of tools and tactics than you would to be successful as a Vicar.
I remember a time when my daughter asked me why you need to wait around and listen to a boring old person talking at you. “But I just want to go and play” she’d say. I explained that the person just wanted to get to know her, and wasn’t used to speaking to 5-year old’s, and it was polite to be patient and respectful as she was trying to form a connection. Which was why in that instance, I requested she sit still and do her best to be attentive.
I remember a time when my daughter wanted to know why she had thank someone for a present she didn’t like, “surely you thank someone if you actually liked it” she said. I explained that you aren’t thanking them for the present itself, but for the kindness they had shown in wanting to buy you a present.
Last September when my son started school he was upset and a little curious as to why he had to wear uniform, big heavy shoes, and a tie. Now whereas I am not a complete believer in the tie adding any value, I explained to him that if everyone had the same then and you would feel equal and more of a team, and it would be easier to know what to wear in the mornings. This seemed to make sense to him and he plodded off in his new big shoes.
Understanding the game of life will help your child to navigate all their social interactions with ease
The game of life does not directly create our happiness, it can’t. Nothing can take away our happiness and well-being it is default, inbuilt. Now what the game of life does do is enable us to evolve, to challenge ourselves, and it gives us an outlet to contribute to others. And given most of us live in a ‘society’ it is good to understand how the world looks for others in our society.
Now as parents we connect to our own innate wisdom to help our kids navigate the game of life, but – and here is the hard bit – not to let our own learnt narrative masquerade as wisdom. So, it is about pointing them to the nature of the game of life – that it is only a construct made of thought in the moment, rather than lead them down our own route on how to navigate it. It would be like me telling you what to do about what happened in your dream last night.
Parents can help their children get the most out of life, by pointing them to their innate wisdom, and the nature of the game of life.
So, in summary we can help our kids get the most out of any moment regardless of what they are doing – by showing them how to get out the way of their learnt selves, help them see we all have an ego and sense of self that calls the shots occasionally, and to recognise that for what it is. And we can help them in the game of life, not because that is where their happiness resides or because we know best, but because understanding the nature of the game can help them navigate it in a more effortless way and enable the world to evolve one step further.
Essentially, a parents role is to point children back to their own innate gifts of resourcefulness, connection and well-being. And if we do the same, we will experience many more magical moments of parenting.
What parent or child roles do you play in your life? Come and tell us about it in the 3P Families Facebook Group!
All about the author:
Piers has been a personal and professional development coach since 2001, and coached 100s clients for 1000s of hours; ranging from national newspaper editors, to Sheiks in Riyadh, to international sports people.
He first discovered the principles in 2009, but it wasn’t until participating in SuperCoach 2011 that he realised this was going to be a huge turning point in his life and work. Previously, he had based his change work around NLP (he was a NLP trainer) Clean Language, Appreciative Inquiry, and range of
Now, he is having a wonderful time exploring the Principles with his clients, both in the corporate and private client worlds. He lives in London and is Dad to two children 6, and 8.
Find Piers at piersthurston.com, where you can also read lots of other great posts about the Principles across multiple areas of life