We're doing two things as parents, recognizing the innate nature of our kids and helping them to clear the layers of conditioning that otherwise obscure that innate nature. The purpose of boundaries, as I continue to explore this theme, is not to shape our children into something good and right, they are already good and right. A skilled parent (or teacher) constantly looks beneath the challenges and issues a child is having to their perfect nature.
But we are wise to stay clear about the challenges, really seeing and taking the time to understand them. We can ask 'Why is my child so angry?' not with judgment but with curiosity. 'Why does my child seem to have trouble making friends?' 'Why does my child refuse to brush his teeth?' This curiosity helps us to see very clearly and compassionately.
When we understand a child, we can have appropriate and helpful boundaries and limits, ones that are focused on stripping away the layers that interfere with the full and beautiful expression of their being rather than trying to force them to fit a particular mold.
As we see and understand the stuff showing up in our child's life, we can respond by holding a clear understanding of their nature, reminding them and the people around them as necessary of who they are. And we can see their challenges clearly, offering real support as they learn to work with those parts of themselves.
When a child is physically disregulated, this can look like teaching them how to notice what it feels to be sleepy or hungry.
When a child's emotions are either out of control or too tightly controlled, this can look like giving them space to feel their feelings and express them in safe ways with loving support.
When a child balks at doing something new, this can look like teaching them how to do something like cleaning up, helping someone they have hurt, or learning an academic skill that doesn't come easily by breaking it down into manageable steps.
When a child is self-critical, this can look like helping them to notice their own goodness.
When a child is perfectionistic or afraid to make mistakes, this can look like allowing them to make mistakes and even fail while knowing they are loved and accepted.
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.