A child’s soul journey

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself… You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts… You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. – Khalil Gibran

What Gibran writes here is a good expression of what I call soul-based parenting. How does that differ from ego-based parenting? In ego-based parenting, the child is seen as an amorphous lump of clay, which, over time is shaped into the image of what the parents think their child should be. In soul-based parenting, the child is seen more like a seed with all of its potential already inside. The role of the parent is to create optimal growing conditions so the seed can grow into a strong and healthy plant, which ultimately blossoms in its own unique way.

Ego-based parenting creates problems for both the parent and child. If the parent sees the child as a reflection of her/himself, when the child conforms, he receives love and affection. When the child does not conform, he receives negative feedback and feels judged and unloved. The child with a strong spirit may continually frustrate parents and, therefore, constantly receive negative messages, ultimately suffering from low-self esteem. If the child’s spirit is not so strong, the child learns to negate his own being, ultimately becoming a pleaser. I do not know any adults who, when they were young, said they wanted to be just like one of their parents.

Decades ago, many parents felt all children should be right-handed. If a child favoured the left hand, the parents consistently forced him to use his right hand; parents even did this with babies. We now recognize that handedness has to do with hemispheric dominance in the brain and we are wired to be one way or the other. In the same way, the child’s soul exists within him and the natural progression as he grows is to live life in alignment with that soul.

If we continually try to change what exists naturally in the child, not only do we create tension and conflict, but we also dishonour the uniqueness of his being. When we try to make the child align with what we think he should be, we stifle the evolution and blossoming that is his birthright. And when the child reaches adolescence, the real trouble starts. Adolescence is a time when young people need to individuate. They may pull away from parents because they need to define themselves as an individual. They relate well with their peers because peers are accepting of individual differences. It can also be a time of insecurity and a perceived rejection by one’s parents really hurts even when it is covered up with attitude, anger or false bravado.

It should also be noted that adults often give teens a bad rap. They roll their eyes when the child enters adolescence, anticipating difficulty. The difficulty is often in proportion to the degree of ego-parenting that is going on. In truth, it is a beautiful thing and a blessing to watch a child transform into an adult. It is here that the blossoming really begins, if we have created a safe and loving environment for that to happen. (See my YouTube video Growing Up Whole).

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For more of Gwen’s articles and information about her books, Self Care CDs and the new Creating Healthy Relationships series, visit www.gwen.ca. See display ad this issue.

Leave a comment