SEEING OUR CHILDREN THROUGH
Bruce I. Doyle, III, Ph.D.
As one looks around, it’s hard not to recognize that the world of “new children” is bustling with tremendous activity - like never before. Small children seem to be everywhere and the “mother’s to be” are in greater abundance than I’ve ever witnessed. A recent newspaper article reported that one third of the teachers in a southern school system were expecting or were on maternity leave. I mentioned this new awareness to a pediatrician friend and she said, “I have never been busier.”
It’s not only that there seems to be more little ones - they appear like grown ups in miniature bodies. Their large piercing eyes scan for relevance as they explore their surroundings – even the wee ones in baby carriages look at you with deep interest.
Watch the walk on some of these little ones. You would swear it’s a grandparent shrunk in size wandering the earth for a new perspective. And, their energy and curiosity seems unlimited as they meander endlessly experiencing everything in sight.
I love children and enjoy communicating with them. I feel strongly that it’s important that they feel safe and secure in an adult’s presence. Recently, I encountered, a young girl who I image was about three years old, walking alone in the super market. I said to her gently, “How are you today?” She looked me over and quickly replied in a commanding voice, “I am not allowed to talk to strangers.” I said, “I’m sorry for bothering you.” She spontaneously replied, “Oh, that’s o.k.” and headed off toward her mother - a very mature conversation for a three year old.
My lady friend, Marjorie, and I were in Starbucks a few weeks ago noticing the very adult like dialogue going on between a young girl (maybe two years old) and a woman, that appeared to be her grandmother. The young girl noticing that we were observing them, walked over to our table, looked straight at Marjorie and politely asked, “What is your name?” Marjorie responded, and the young girl turned to me and said, “And, what is your name?” We were taken back by the level of maturity she was expressing. As she and the older woman left the store, the little girl – smiling from ear to ear - energetically waved to us and said, “Good bye.” Aren’t kids amazing?
A few days later, Marjorie and I were at the same Starbucks and encountered another young girl (about two and one half) sitting in the corner with her mother. I said to the young girl, “Where did you get those beautiful, big, brown eyes?” She smiled and rolled her eyes as looking for an answer when her mother said, “Tell the man where you got your big brown eyes.” Without hesitation, the young girl proudly replied, “At the dentist.” With that, her mother, wearing a sheepish grin, said, “That will make a great story.” We all burst into laughter as the little girl (Madeline) soaked up the attention. “At the dentist” reminded me of my generation’s stories that were always blamed on the milkman.
My granddaughter, who is now seven, asked for a computer for Christmas when she was five. She learned how to use one in pre-school so; now, she wanted one of her own. As one might guess, GrandPa gratefully fulfilled her request. Christmas morning I set up the new Dell system and loaded a Disney CD for - decorating the rooms in the castle - so we could free the princess from the tower. I found it quite challenging to understand how to use the software; so later that day, I decided to boot up the system and figure it out so I could explain it to Olivia before I headed back to California. Within five minutes, Olivia appeared at my left elbow and firmly stated, “GrandPa, this is my computer and you did not ask permission to use it.” What could I say but, “You are right, is it o.k. to use it?” The reply was affirmative. She was expressing a unique characteristic of our “new children” – self-authority. They have an uncanny way of saying it like it is.
Celia Finn, Ph.D., a former South African University professor and author of A Guide to Complementary Therapies, describes today’s youth as sensitive, creative, spiritual, highly intelligent, having lots of questions and demands, energetic, strong-willed with a clear sense of their own value and importance, right-brain oriented, very imaginative, like to debate and negotiate, passionate, intensely loyal to friends, strong on honesty and communication in relationships, not ordered around by authority figures, recognize equality, and bored in traditional school systems. “They strive to express themselves and remain true to who they are while still achieving success as dictated by our culture.”
Despite all of the limiting labels that have been placed upon the little ones, I believe we need to look at them through new eyes. They are not a problem to be solved but a gift to be opened. How do you unwrap a precious gift - one that has unlimited potential? Built into this gift is a seed of Divinity that needs to be nourished. The seed contains advanced features provided to help humanity move through the next stage of evolution: Purpose, Love, Truth, Vision, Oneness, Equality, Curiosity, Intelligence, Insight, Agility, and the drive for Exploration and Experience. As Einstein said, “One cannot solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created it.” The “new children” are here to raise the level of human thinking. We need to move beyond a belief in separation to one of Oneness.
They come with the seed, but it is up to us to allow that gift to unfold. They bring the product of nature - it’s up to us to provide the nurture. These two ingredients - working together - will allow the gift to unfold and release its magic. The magic required to eventually bring Peace on Earth. They know at a very deep intuitive level that we are all connected.
Our job as grandparents, parents, educators, relatives and friends is to provide the love rich environment that will enable the “new children” to thrive and grow as unique individuals. They must be allowed to unfold rather than be molded by a paradigm of “one size fits all.” Or, have their path dictated by external forces. Parenting, especially, becomes a process of mentoring and partnership not “control.” Within each child is a guidance system designed to take it on its individual path of experience and purpose. That guidance system evokes signals that create joy. When one is doing what one enjoys, the guidance system is “on track.” Following that track is easy - always do what you love to do. Isn’t that what all of us adults would love to do? But, many don’t because there might be some outside authority - real or imaginary - that doesn’t approve. The “new children” won’t respond to that. They are their own authority. They don’t have to earn their right to be here or deny what they want to experience. They know who they are. Many of us grew up with the feedback that we were unworthy, bad, not important, our desires didn’t matter and others always come first. We also felt the need to have to earn our right to be here.
We must see the “new children” through new eyes. We need a new set of “inside eyes”, eyes that see with an expanded view of the advanced consciousness and amazing capability of our “new children”. What are they here to teach us? What is their collective purpose?
Our job is to coach and mentor our “new children” to allow their individual gifts to fully unfold - contributing to the expression of their individual and collective purpose.
An individual’s life experiences are primarily determined by three core beliefs. The individual’s beliefs about: 1) him/herself, 2) their relationship to others and 3) the environment in which they see themselves. Adults have a great opportunity to make a significant difference in the life of a child if they can have a positive impact on these three beliefs.
My recommendation is to treat the new child or “new children” in your life with the love, respect, compassion and communication skills that you would impart to the most endearing person in your life. Granted, many adults unfortunately don’t treat other adults this way. Maybe these “new children” are in our lives to help us become better at expressing these important attributes.
Children need to be lovingly mentored to understand the concept of “choice.” This is about “discipline” not “punishment.” Remove the concept of punishment from the picture all together. That’s old energy thinking. Discipline in this context simply means - having the understanding that “choices determine outcomes.” Children need to learn that the choices they make have consequences in the outside world. Exercising discipline, when making choices, creates more positive outcomes. Proper mentoring instills this personal discipline by providing the child with choices rather than demands or edicts. Command and control will not work with someone who sees him/herself as their own authority. Having choice maintains ones own authority. Remember how powerless you feel when you perceive that you have no choice.
As children grow, they need to learn to establish and respect the boundaries and limits that will protect them in the outside world. Help them learn the appropriate boundaries through choice. Avoid creating in them emotional barriers of fear and unworthiness. Instilling “self-doubt” in a child by utilizing negative and condemning language can have a devastating impact on them for the rest of their lives. How many untruths about yourself have you had to work through to first, reach a place of “self-acceptance” and then, “self-love” to achieve more emotional freedom in your life?
When communicating with anyone about an issue – especially children – always make sure your comments are directed toward their “behavior” and not at them personally.
Ken Blanchard’s book, Whale Done! describes the technique of “redirecting” to refocusing a dolphin’s behavior toward what the trainer wants accomplished rather than criticizing or disciplining the dolphin for inappropriate behavior. The message is – Focus on the Positive. Focus on what you want achieved - not on what you don’t want.
You will find that one of the strongest attributes of the “new children” is immense “curiosity.” They love to explore and experience their surroundings. To experience something is the most powerful way to learn it. Learning “about” something is not the same thing as experiencing it. Experiential learning increases self-confidence. Encourage safe and appropriate exploration.
As one gains self-confidence, his/her beliefs about others will tend to be more positive. A self-confident child doesn’t play the victim role, is not quick to blame or criticize others, has the ability to stay true to the values he/she is taught and will be a good influence on other children.
Providing a safe environment for children is critical. They must always feel safe - not only physically, but more importantly - emotionally. A child that doesn’t feel safe will never learn to freely express him/herself. They will always “withhold” out of fear. Self-expression is the ultimate freeing experience and the reason we all exist. We are all here on the planet to express and contribute our individual uniqueness. Anything short of that is not being fully alive.
I challenge you to see the “new children” through new “inside” eyes - the eyes that are witnessing a major leap in human evolution - occurring right before us. Embrace the “new children” and provide them with the unconditional love and compassionate mentoring they need to fully express their ultimate purpose. They are here to take us to the next level of human evolution - the understanding of our Oneness. The understanding of Oneness will finally lead to “Peace on Earth” - thanks to the children.
For the Children
I am the Child.
All the world waits for my coming.
All the earth watches with interest to what I shall become
Civilization hangs in the balance
For what I am, the world of tomorrow will be.
I am the Child.
I have come into your world, about which I know nothing.
Why I came I know not,
How I came I know not,
I am curious, I am interested.
I am the Child,
You hold in your hand my destiny.
You determine, largely, whether I shall succeed or fall.
Give me, I pray you, those things that make for Happiness.
Train me, I beg you that I may be a blessing to the world.
Mamie Jean Cole