When a child is born some have said they are a blank slate. Some believe it is up to us adults with all of our experience to teach them the way they should be. Others believe that children are inherently pure, and we should leave them alone to grow into who they want to be. Some see children as a reflection of themselves, therefore they are seen as approval objects. Their child is living proof of their own worth as a parent.
In reality our children are made up of three things:
- Inherited traits
- Individual temperament
- Innate capacities: gifts, talents, limitations and virtues.
While a child’s personality is not completely formed, it is inside of them, just like an oak tree is inside an acorn. Like that acorn, parents need to direct the potential for good, focus on the child’s gifts and possibilities and help them become an independent spiritual being.
Children are born with certain innate instincts: how to breathe deeply, how to eat only when they are hungry, how not to think about what others think of their singing, dancing, coloring, and how to play, create, love without holding back. Then the adults in their lives replace many of their innate understandings with what we call ‘reality’. The children end up learning negative false beliefs, fear, shame and self doubt. The pain for them begins and they want to numb it with drugs, alcohol, TV, food. Or they end up settling for mediocrity. Or they rise to the occasion and become spiritual beings.
Giving our children the care and attention they need is how we give them dignity. It is how we help them to grow their nature and skills. We give them opportunity to find the music within themselves, but it is up to the child to put forth the effort to practice.
I believe that every child has all of the virtues within themselves; with all virtues having the potential for goodness and for destructiveness. Every quality they have can be directed or misdirected. Our role as parents is so key to their success. In the end though their success is up to them.
This spring I will be announcing a workshop for families to find the strong virtues within their children and themselves. We will work on bringing out the best in our children and ourselves. If you are interested in learning more about the workshop – look for announcements on the Balanced Life Skills website.