to a Question about Children
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| How does
a parent teach a child about God/Goddess/All That Is, or to love themselves?
First of all, parents, compliment your children specifically. And criticize them specifically as well. Do not use generalities and broad sweeping statements of "always" and "never". For example, don't ever tell them they're the best little boy or girl in the world, that they're the most wonderful child that ever existed, etc., because they know better —they know it is not true. Such generalities erode the value of compliments and positive feedback. They create distrust. Your child cannot trust your judgments or assessments of reality when you judge and assess them so inaccurately.
Therefore, when your son cleans up his room, don't tell him he's the best boy in the whole world or the most wonderful son that could ever exist. Instead, be specific. Tell him, "Cleaning your room is a very difficult job for you, and it's something that you don't like doing very much. I know that it took a lot of work, a lot of energy to do that, and I appreciate that work and that energy. You did a very good job. You did a wonderful job. Thank you."
With this kind of communication, your child will learn that you mean what you say and that your feedback is relevant and correct. They will value your approval and praise. They will trust your assessments.
When you need to be critical, again, be specific. "You're the worst kid, you're the rottenest kid, I don't know why I ever had you... You will be the death of me yet... Why are you so terrible? You are the worst kid anyone ever had." Your children will take these statements literally.
They know they are not the best. Such sweeping superlatives are discounted or disbelieved. They do NOT know that they are not the worst. Such sweeping criticisms can be devastating. You know you didn't mean it. But they don't know that.
"When you broke that vase you made me very angry with you... I know you are trying to make me feel guilty right now and it's not going to work... You are being very hurtful (or hateful) right now." These statements are specific and can be heard. You are not telling your child that they always manipulate. You are not calling them hurtful or hateful children.
Secondly, you have been told that your children are just little people and therefore to treat them that way. Well, they are little people, but they are unique little people. You need to model adulthood for them. You do need to teach them to love themselves —as well as to teach the fundamentals of survival in your world. Your job is NOT to teach them to love you. Yours is to teach them to love themselves.
Additionally, love your children uniquely. Most parents think they should love each child equally. And therefore, if you buy one child a $5 gift, you should buy all the other kids a $5 gift. If you let one child go to the movies, you feel you must let all your children go to the movies. If you read a storybook to one child, you have to read it to all the other children.
No, children don't really expect to be loved equally. They sense the emphasis on equality rather than upon love. They will devalue the love that comes as equity. Think about it for a minute. Two friends are shopping for a gift for you. One is looking for anything as long as it costs $10 and no more. The other is looking for something that you and you alone will enjoy. Which gift will you appreciate more? Like you, your child will appreciate love that is uniquely their own.
This child loves to go shopping. Then take that one shopping. This other child doesn't like to go shopping, so don't take them shopping. They prefer to go play at a friend's house. Let them. This child prefers being alone with a good book. Get them a book and leave them alone.
Don't worry about loving them equally. Focus on loving them uniquely. It takes more thought and more effort. But, with a little practice and understanding, it doesn't have to take more time.
And, oh yes, certainly they'll say, "You gave them this and you didn't give me that." That's right, and you may have to remind them of the uniqueness... "Yes, but I gave you this and they didn't get that."... "Oh, that's right. Now I remember, and now I feel good about it." It is all right to explain what you are doing. You can talk about the ways you are loving them. You can even ask them to help you figure out their personal uniqueness. Love your children uniquely.
How do you teach them to love themselves?
Here is a simple but extremely effective technique. Once your child is mature enough (say 4 or 5 years old), build a "love box" with them. Remember the Valentine's Day boxes you made in elementary school? Well, the love box is similar. Work with your child in constructing a love box and make it the way they want it to look, not the way you think it should look.
Explain to your child, "I love you all the time, but sometimes I don't show you as much as you would like me to. Sometimes you think you are not getting enough of my love, and then you feel hurt and you feel left out. You may even wonder if I even love you at all. And I know that happens because I was a kid once too. And that happened to me."
Then explain the love box. Together you will each fill the box with love and put the lid on the box. Then explain, "...so when you feel you're not getting enough love, all you have to do is come here, take off the lid, and take out some love. See..." Then demonstrate it to them. Continuing, "...you don't have to wait for me to get home from work, you don't have to wait until I'm done fixing dinner, etc. If you need some love in the middle of dinner fixing, and I can't give it to you right now, you can get it for yourself."
Then actually work with your child. Don't tell them you put more love in the box while they were gone. No, do it with them. Let them see you putting more love in the box. Help them put love (not guilt —love) in the box. Make it real.
Yes, they know it's a game. You know it's a game. But it works. They will learn that they can love all by themselves. Soon they will figure out that they can love themselves. They learn that they can "get love" when they want it without whining and nagging or basically being obnoxious until you give in. They can and will learn to love.
And how do you teach them about God/Goddess/All That Is?
Admittedly, there is a great deal of social and peer pressure to view God in a totally Judeo-Christian way. Therefore, begin by talking about God in a fatherly way and then in a friendly way. Then you can extend such discussions to a mother-god in a maternal and then a friendly way. Once these concepts are understood and a child can converse —question and explain— with ease, then combine the concepts with the idea of God and Goddess, and the combination of both which is All that there is —All That Is.
As difficult as it is for you to understand, you will be amazed at how quickly a child will understand and be able to remind you of the truer nature of God/Goddess/All That Is.
Further, realize you can teach your child to respect God and then Goddess, then All That Is, and then God/Goddess/All That Is without teaching them to fear them. We know that fear is an expedient shortcut to respect, but it has never really worked. So don't use the expedient of fear. Take the additional time to use love as a reason to respect. You will be surprised at how well it will work. And it is fun. Also, it is emotionally moving.
With love and peace...