This is a continuation of the “A Philosopher As Parent” and the last in the series. The first post in the series can be found here.
Learn About Yourself whilst Adapting to Parental Life
I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that bringing up children is not an easy task and is perhaps the greatest challenge anyone can take on in life. Anyone looking to start a family will find that out soon enough -believe me!
For me personally, I am finding out the hard way (due to my ignorance of not being a parent before) that I must learn (quickly) to adapt to every given situation in regard my relationship with my 18 month old boy. I have to also admit there are times when many apparent difficulties arise when he seemingly changes his behaviour and attitude from one day to the next.
I think by one having a philosophical view to parenting, tinged with some wisdom, will go a long way toward making bringing up a child a little easier – as well as for saving one’s sanity.
Bear in mind; I am in no way telling you how to bring up your kids, but I only wish to share advice on how I am trying to deal with this major challenge in my life, with the goal being to raise a child who is healthy in mind as well as in body.
Ten Commandments to Parenting Wisely that I try to adhere to:
ONE: ‘You shall have no other gods but yourself.‘ – we are all gods in our own way because we have in our possession a phenomenal gift of being able to create life. Parents must learn to act as a god would by showing responsibility and compassion for what we have created, as well as always being virtuous in the way we nurture our young.
TWO: ‘You shall only lay down the foundations for their survival.‘ – obviously some boundaries must be set and we must teach them the necessary skills for survival very much like how animals rear their young. But we must remember to be both objective and rational whilst nurturing our young and try not to impose our subjective feelings, prejudices and ideas onto them.
THREE: ‘You shall not compare your child with other children.‘ – we as parents are sometimes guilty of comparing our child to another who we think excels in activities at school. We then put unnecessary pressure on our children to follow the example of the ‘Teacher’s Pet’ who supposedly succeeds in everything. What type of human being do you wish to produce? An authentic being who has the untroubled freedom of always being itself; or an imitator who will never know themselves and are incapable of creating anything of originality? You choose.
FOUR: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it for spending quality time with your child.‘ – spend as much time with your child as possible as ‘Time’ waits for no parent because before you know it the child would have become an adult and will, by then, want to get as far away as possible from us old fogies – so make the most of the time you have with them as toddlers.
FIVE: ‘Honor and respect your child’s freedom in life.‘ – give your child the freedom to grow and make their own mistakes so that they can learn from them – which will help them to become wiser. Remember to also respect your child’s independence and decisions to pursue whatever they wish to do in life.
SIX: ‘You shall not murder your child.‘ – I know there are times when you feel like murdering your kids due to their noisy behaviour and seemingly aggravating ways, but a parent must learn to have patience and an understanding attitude towards their child. At the end of the day, children will always be children, and in most cases all they want is attention or for us to help them to achieve something that their little bodies are not capable of doing.
SEVEN: ‘You shall not treat the child as your possession.‘ – it is natural to want the best for our kids but we as parents must tread very carefully in how we GUIDE our kids – and that is the operative word – GUIDE. There is a thin line between wise parenting and tyrannical parenting. Once a child reaches a mature age for it to make decisions for itself then parents must learn to let go, otherwise the child will not be able to function independently and cope with everyday life adequately – so allow them to LEAD themselves.
EIGHT: ‘You shall not steal their childhood.‘ – leave them alone and let them be kids by not living your own failed ambitions through them. Allow them to grow and develop at their own pace, so that they can discover for themselves the vocation they wish to do and be happy in.
NINE: ‘You shall not lie to your child.‘ – always speak ‘Truth’ to your child and not condition them with what you want them to know by telling massive porkies. If they ask you a question (and they certainly will – and many of them), respond to them with honesty and frankness, as it’s somewhat hypocritical of us to teach them not to lie, but in the meantime we do just that to either protect them from the truth or to propagate fantasies. As Manly P. Hall wisely points out, “The child is not damaged by facts. The child is damaged by delusions.”
TEN: ‘You shall not spoil your child.‘ – it’s all well and good buying the odd toy for your child on birthdays, but they must be taught a valuable lesson that they cannot get everything which they ask for, especially if you capitulate and comply to their whims as soon as they throw a temper tantrum. Otherwise you will be setting a dangerous precedence for your child into becoming a self-centered grand manipulator when in adulthood.
The lesson here is: I think we just need to be aware that every child is different, and that there is no standard formula for parenting that will work for everyone. All I will say is that we must keep in mind not to impose on our children and corrupt them with our bullshit ways – but to allow them the room to grow and develop their own personality – hopefully, they will become wiser, happier and more inquisitive than us ignorant, miserable and narrow minded adults.
I just need to keep reminding myself, “I must let go! I must let go!”, no matter how hard I’m already finding that liberating prospect.