Tag Archives: generosity

April Post For Peace

English: Children dancing, International Peace...
English: Children dancing, International Peace Day 2009, Geneva. Français : Enfants dansant, Journée internationale de la Paix 2009, Genève. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do we teach children what peace means, and how do we raise our children to be peaceful?

The answer is amazingly simple.  We teach by example.  Simple answers don’t make the actual process easy of course.  We have all seen or been the parent who yells and rants, flips out and stomps off, slams a door, gets mad, gets even.  Kids mimic what they see, they repeat what they hear, and they either learn from our mistakes or they repeat them.  The best and maybe the only way we can teach our children what peace means is by living it.

My parents were both peaceful and peace-loving.  Mom always saw the best in every person she met and every situation she faced – she could put a positive spin on even the worst disaster, and point out some redeeming quality in a complete ass.  Dad forever saw the funny side of life.  It’s like I spent my childhood with a Mark Twain clone – he would tell us a funny story or make a witty remark or a silly comment that didn’t just make us laugh, it made us think.  My parents never had raging battles, and rarely even argued for long before coming to a mutually acceptable decision, even if the decision was simply to agree to disagree.

How incredibly lucky we were to be their children, sheltered from the violence and cruelty of the world for so long.  Of course the down side to that is not knowing how to react to, and cope with, furious anger and deliberate malice when confronted with it head on.  We were taught not to fight back and that peaceful resolutions were always to be sought, and almost always possible to reach.  We were shown that siblings can be our very best friends, that mistakes can be forgiven, that happiness is something you have to find within yourself because no one is going to present it to you on a golden platter.  I grew up knowing that anger you can’t let go of will just make everyone miserable.  No matter how uneasy the peace, it is always better to seek it than to let a conflict fester and grow.

So how have I done as a mother myself, after having been blessed with such shining examples to follow?  I wish I could tell you I’ve been the perfect wise and peaceful parent, but if you’re a parent yourself you know first hand there’s really no such thing.  Parenthood is something we muddle through hoping to keep the damage to a minimum.  We want peace and happiness and joy for our children and we will wish hard for it for the rest of our lives.

Before I became the incredibly smart old person that I am now, a newborn baby always looked to me like some blank little human that could be shaped and molded into whatever sort of person its family was capable of creating.  Not so great parents ended up with little brats.  How completely deluded that notion turned out to be.

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...
Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because a child is born with personality plus.  All we can hope to accomplish as his parent and guardian is to get to know him, keep him safe and watch him grow.  We can guide and console and love him but we can’t make him turn himself into something he is not, and perhaps was never meant to be.

The very hardest part about being a parent is knowing how much growing up we have left to do ourselves.  I sometimes think our children teach us just as much about life as we are trying to teach them.  Maybe more.  We give our children rules to live by, examples to follow, consequences for their actions.  It’s only fair that there should be some parenting rules, and for whatever they’re worth, here are mine.

1.  Keep talking to your child. Tell him what you think, what you believe, what you want, how you feel.  Some of it is bound to sink in eventually.

2.  Shut up and listen.  Let him freely express what he thinks, what he believes, what he wants, how he feels.  You will learn more things from listening to your child than you ever believed possible.  Have some serious discussions.  Share some laughs. Keep an open mind.

3.  Be loving and kind and compassionate.  Growing up is not easy.  You haven’t finished the process either, so be patient with your child, and be patient with yourself.

4.  Be grateful for what you have and less concerned with what you lack.  Know that ‘things’ themselves are not what make us happy.  Be generous whenever you can. It really is true that the more you give the more you receive, no matter what the ‘gift’.

5.  Support your childs creative nature and expanding spirit.  Share his happiness, share his joy.  Teach him that sharing the joy of others brings joy right back to him.  Be constantly delighted and astounded by the incredible person he is turning out to be.  His dreams are different from yours and his path is not the same as the one you are on.  How boring and disappointing it would be if we all raised little mini-me’s.

6.  Be okay with life.  Work with change, rather than against it.  Accept what is, let go, and let be.

When we are okay with life, there is no reason to fight.  When we are calm and confident and have a sort of mental equilibrium somewhere between what is ‘wrong’ and what is ‘right’, the tension and the struggle to go one way or the other disappears. I think that is called peace.  I think that is the only way we can teach it to our children, by showing them that we get it, that we want it, and that we live it ourselves the best way we know how.

Although you see the world different from me
Sometimes I can touch upon the wonders that you see
And all the new colors and pictures you’ve designed
Oh yes sweet darling so glad you are a child of mine

Child of mine, child of mine
Oh yes sweet darling so glad you are a child of mine

You don’t need directions, you know which way to go
And I don’t want to hold you back I just want to watch you grow
You’re the one who taught me, you don’t have to look behind
Oh yes sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine

Nobody’s gonna kill your dreams or tell you how to live your life
There’ll always be people who make it hard for a while
But you’ll change their heads when they see you smile

The times you were born in may not have been the best
But you can make the times to come better than the rest
I know you will be honest if you can’t always be kind
Oh yes sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine

Child of mine, child of mine
Oh yes sweet darling so glad you are a child of mine

Child of mine, child of mine
Oh yes sweet darling so glad you are a child of mine

bloggers for peace

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Letter to Me, Aged 83

8/365 Matryoshka

Maybe I should be writing all this in bold caps for you my dear, since if you have managed to live this long I’m sure you’re mostly blind and completely deaf by now.  But I’m also certain you have the technology to enlarge my words and project them on to thin air 50 meters high, or convert them into shouting through implanted head phones or some such helpful communication device, all with the touch of your gnarled old fingers, in the year 2032.

Because if you haven’t changed too drastically I know you will have all the latest pads and pods and readers and gadgets at your fingertips, especially if your children and grandchildren still care enough to keep an old lady up to date.  And great-grandchildren.  Wow. Your self from way back here twenty years ago is having a hard time wrapping her head around that one.

So what can I tell you, now that you are a couple of decades older and wiser than you were in 2012?  This is very different from talking to my fourteen year old self (although I’m sure you’re not listening either) because I can’t give you any advice that wouldn’t be hopelessly old-fashioned by now.  All I can do is let you know what I hope in my heart you have become.

1.  Happy.  Please tell me you are happy with the things you’ve done and the places you’ve been and the people you’ve met in this lifetime.  If you’re not, shame on you, and there’s probably some great pills you should be taking for that, you grouchy old bag.

2.  Healthy.  You know, relatively speaking.  I hope your health issues are manageable and you’re not moaning and groaning and complaining all the time.  And I especially hope your main topic of conversation is not a long list of the people you know who died this week.

3.  Independent.  This one is a stretch when you’re in your eighties, but what I mean is that I sincerely hope you can still do many things for yourself on your own.  There is a fine balance here, because you also can’t be too proud to ask for help when you need it.  Just don’t be a burden.  And don’t climb up on the roof simply because you think you can get away with it.  Things like that could put you at the top of somebodys list of people who died this week.

4.  With it and Wise.  Yes, I know you’ve never really been either one of those things, but it’s never too late to try, is it?  If you’re not convinced that what you’re about to say makes sense, just sit there and say nothing.  People will mistake your silence for deep thought.  And I think it’s time you gave up the phrase “life is too short to….” because obviously some lives are not that short after all.

5.  Generous.  You can’t take it with you, whatever it is you’re clinging to, or whatever it is you’ve got in the bank or on paper or cluttering up your house.  If there are people around you who need it more than you do, give it away.  If they throw it in the trash once they’re out of sight, that’s okay too.  What you don’t know can’t hurt you.  And what you no longer have you also no longer have to dust.

6.  Kind and Loving.  Don’t ever stop loving your family and being there for them, no matter how extended or far-flung.  They’re the ones who will carry your memory with them after you’re gone, and it would be nice if those memories could be good and beautiful ones, not the kind that make them shake their heads and roll their eyes and pray they didn’t inherit any of your cantankerous disagreeable old genes.

7. At Peace with the World.   Stop fighting and accept the things you cannot change.  Let all those annoying young people you’re now surrounded by take over.  They have way more time and energy for all this nonsense than you do at this stage in your life.  Take a long nap.  You’ve earned it.

8. Unafraid.  Fear is such a waste of time and energy.  If you’ve been paying attention, you will have deduced from number seven that you don’t have huge amounts of either one of these things to spare. Don’t distress yourself with dark visions of doom.  You know what I’m talking about.  But if you’ve forgotten, never mind, that’s great, forget I mentioned it.  However, you should NOT give up your fear of stairs.  That’s a healthy one.

9. Tolerant, Understanding, Unbiased.  I hope you keep an open mind, even if you’re losing it. Never stop listening.  Never stop learning.

10. At Peace with your Soul.  Never regret who you were and who you are and whatever dumb and stupid things you did with your life.  You did a lot of good things too.  You deserve to be the happy, peaceful, loving soul of your dreams.  If what the psychic told you all those years ago is true, you have eleven more years to go.  I hope you enjoy every single minute of it.