People who have children contact me sometimes.  Commonly, they report that, right up until they found out that they were having a baby, they thought their practice, their studies, their meditations were going well. Then, when the baby came into this world, life became more challenging. So, they often have two questions: 1.  they want to know what my recommendation is regarding discipline, and 2.  they, also,  want to know how to continue their practice when they are sleep deprived.

Ok, so, the 1st-thing is I am going to answer both questions with the same response.

Most importantly, what I want to say about children is that they will learn from what they see. You can tell them 100 times, “Be a good boy.”  “Be relaxed.” “Eat your food”. You know. “Do not shout too much.” “Do not hit anybody”.

My son sometimes bites me. It hurts. I am like, “Ahhhgh, no no no!”

Then, he bites me, again. Again, I am like, “Arrgh”.

I do not know where he learned to bite. I never bit him. I bite his toes a little bit, sometimes. He laughs.

Anyways, to go to the point, if you want a child to be the perfect version of your idealization, then, be the perfect example from which he can learn.  Make sure that the people that he comes in touch with are, also, an example.  That is challenging. 

Also, it is challenging if you are living with your partner. You know what I mean.   Many times you forget about the kid. You get involved in your emotions.  You get sucked up into the dramas. The tension starts to build. Then, it is at this moment, we call it, “The straw that broke the camel’s back,” when, “Boom!” You explode. You feel you have the right to explode. “Ohhh!”

Maybe the kid sees that. Then, he learns from that.  He thinks, “Next time, I am going to make a huge tantrum!” Or he is going to shout or whatever. That will be how he makes his point because that is what he learned from the adults.

Remember what we talked about last week.  Actions speak louder than words.

So, regarding discipline, I think, first of all, you have to always be an example.  You must be patient. Try to be what you want them to be. Embody what you want to offer them. Manifest what you want them to learn. That will be the first step, at least, from my experience.

Then, of course, with my son, I always talk to him like an adult. I explain things to him. I am not like, “No! Do not do that! No! It is bad!” I do not do it like that, you see.

Instead, I say, “Hey, what do you think? Do you think that is bad? Or do you think that is good?” I tell him why you should not do it. I try to explain to him word by word as if I was talking to an adult.

He will look at me seriously. He barely talks. I do not even know if he understands me. Still, I continue. In response, he looks at me earnestly. The result is that, in the end, he will stop doing whatever we are talking about. He will act as if he understood. Then, he will stop doing whatever it is.

Maybe he is trying to look cool. He might be like, “Oh, I understand what you are saying”, kind of thing. “So, I am going to stop doing whatever it is is because I kind of know you do not want me to do that.” 

I am not sure what is happening inside of him.  What is sure is my way of handling the situation works.

I look at him straight in the eyes.  I get down to the same level. Then,  I talk to him, “Hey! You know… .”  I explain to him word by word in Tibetan.

His mother speaks to him in Portuguese. She is Brazilian. Then, between us, we speak English. He goes to school in Spain so he is learning Spanish. It is a little bit complicated for him but he is doing well. I am very proud of him.

Yeah, so it is slowly, slowly, step by step. Do not get frustrated. Do not let your frustrations overtake you. Always have faith in yourself. Trust in yourself. Believe in yourself. If you get stressed or if you get overwhelmed, then, go back to what you know.  Return to that place that you have within you.  Go back to that alcove where you feel protected.  Go to where you feel safe. You have to find that inner space within you, the fountain of life. That is, also, part of meditation. Any moment during your daily routine, you can just stop for two minutes. Breathe. Shut your mind. Listen to your heart. Find that place. You know what I mean.  When you open your eyes, you will have peace of mind.

Sometimes, real peace is the silence of the mind. That is true peace. So, try to find that. You can use it as a means to, also, being the example.

It is a demanding task but we are here to learn. We are involved in a long process of learning. It is not easy. Although it is hard, it is amazing with wonderful results. Doing this work is incredible. For me, that is Dharma. You understand. Buddhism is the love for your children, and the dedication and the help that you offer to other people.

I am not saying dedicate all your time so you forget about yourself.  That is not compassion. Find an inner path.  You have to have a middle path. You must have a balance. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. Procrastinate a little bit, also.  It is healthy to procrastinate a little bit, you know, but not too much. Your body needs to recover. Sleep well. Eat well. Exercise.

Whatever happens, make sure your perception and attitude are positive.  That way you will have a happy attitude and a healthy body.

The body absorbs everything. If you are toxic in your mind, your body will get sick. That is how it works.

I mean, our cells are influenced by our thoughts. They are influenced by our attitudes.  They are influenced by our minds. So, we have a big responsibility not just with our mind and with our selves but with our whole body.

Then, of course, this affects everyone who surrounds us.  Everybody we are interacting with in life is impacted. So, do not give up, okay? You are doing a great job. I can tell. Thank you so much!

Just to let you know, my mother had nine children. She gave birth to nine children. So, it is no easy task but it is possible. She is a very happy person, now, but it is an evolution. It took her a while. It took her a long time to get there.

I have learned a lot from my mother. Sometimes, I have learned what I do not want to be when I get older. Other times, I have learned what I want to be when I am older. So, I am so grateful to my mother.

I am, also, grateful to the mother of my son. In the whole universe, those are the only two people with whom I have had difficulty communicating in the past.

I am really happy that I have been able to get to the point where we have a genuinely good relationship. We love each other. You could almost say we love each other unconditionally. It is because we had to do the work. It was a very destructive process, at the time.

So, my advice is:

Always come back to all those qualities that you have. 

Return to your inner child.

Return to unconditional love. 

Return to the true self. 

Return to the nature of the clear mind.

That way, you will take care of your kid and yourself at the same time.

2 Comments

  1. Andy Wistreich

    Yes, it’s also my experience that how you are with your children is the way they become. Rather than telling them what they should be, or having fantasies about what you want them to be. Also it comes back to how you are, inside, yourself. Being a parent is an amazing Dharma practice. It’s really hard because you are almost certain to make mistakes, but if love is dominant, I mean genuine love, I think things will turn out well.

  2. chrissa simeonidou

    Many people believe that having children changes your life, and yes it is true, for me having children it was a journey to selflessness and a great challenge. I quickly understood the great responsibility of raising kids, not only taking care of their nutrition but also taking care of their mental inner growth. I also understood -in a painful way-, how much I had to change and be an example. a role model, as you mentioned…it took me years & still on the path working on it.. when I had my son i faced a long and demanding journey, I had to deal with my personal fears, many relationships problems, and many problems with the society and how they were ‘viewing my son’, more specifically with the educational system. Of course if I wouldn’t discover Dharma i would have been in a psychiatric clinic, I was sure even back then that it must be another way…and it was. i would like also to add that sometimes it is not easy only to inspire your children by example…since each one of us carries his/her imprints from past lives and some are really dominant and hard to change. It takes effort, commitment, and many methods in order to help your children develop qualities. Thank you again for your wisdom, Dear Osel…

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