“To show your children unfeigned love”
I find it strange when parents ask someone else to counsel their own children. They say “my son doesn’t listen to me, can you talk to him?”. Can a parent be any more stranger than asking someone else to counsel their own child? If the child doesn’t speak to me or vice-versa, first, I need to realize that there is a problem and find out what that problem is, because parent and child can and should have the first line of communication. Always. I don’t believe there are any exceptions, if you can have a baby, then you can connect with her.
“To show your teachers ungrudging respect (the Domitius and Athenodotus story), and your children unfeigned love.”Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
If she is not communicating with me, I need to fix it, not someone else. The problem could lie in 3 places, within me, within her or in the communication between us. It’s not very helpful to say “why are you not talking to me?” or “what’s wrong with you?”. Instead, look within, am I being closed? what can I do to be more open? Many a time, we are not patient enough to listen; just be a listener, don’t jump to explanations and advice. Be patient and listen to what they have to say.
“How have you behaved to the gods, to your parents, to your siblings, to your wife, to your children, to your teachers, to your nurses, to your friends, to your relatives, to your slaves? Have they all had from you nothing “wrong and
unworthy, either word or deed”?
Consider all that you’ve gone through, all that you’ve survived. And that the story of your life is done, your assignment complete. How many good things have you seen? How much pain and pleasure have you resisted? How many honors have you declined? How many unkind people have you been kind to?”Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Being kind to unkind people is hard but necessary to living a good life. If I must be kind even to unkind people, can’t I be kind to my own child? After all, I brought her into existence. Being kind will not solve all problems but being unkind is a sure way to break communication.
Are there situations where a third person might be a better option to help her than me? Certainly, when it comes to career planning, addiction or health issues there are experts who can do a better job. When it comes to personal or psychological issues, it’s always better for parent and child to work them out first. More than anything, let the children express and think through things for themselves. Treat them as individuals. Assuming that I know all the answers and believing that I have been there and done that, is presumptuous and borderline stupid.
Be patient with her, like tending to growing flowers in the garden. Figure out a way to be useful, not helpful, just useful. Trying to help comes next, trying to be helpful is subjective, what one might consider help might in fact be annoyance. Trying to be useful is more straightforward.
“be tolerant with others and strict with yourself”Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Unfeigned love towards the child is the only way that I know can bring about the change I need to communicate with her. What is that unfeigned love, how can I practice it. It’s being open, listening, trying to be useful to them, not trying to be helpful, it’s being patient, it’s being kind in thought, word and action.