PARENTING AROUND WHAT OTHERS THINK

Helping children understand, 
“not caring what others think,” 
isn’t an excuse to be hurtful.

 

Conversations with God teaches, “There is no such thing as right and wrong,” no sin or soul’s punishment for anything we do, because we have perfect free will and are all indivisible, yet differentiated parts of the Divine. For many, being one with God means that they choose to personify love and light in the world. Even without fear of punishment, they have decided not to hurt others because “We are all one,” and in hurting another, they know they hurt themselves.  

The words “right and wrong” are constructs we humans have made to police ourselves, creating a semblance of order on earth. We can choose to adhere to those notions, in our thoughts and actions, but they have no bearing on our “salvation.” Instead of punishment, when we do something that isn’t in alignment with Who We Really Are, or in service of our Highest Good, we encounter the natural consequences of our actions which can occur in a variety of ways, including the consternation of others, things not going our way, broken belongings, poor grades for children or work reviews for adults, etc. 

Raising children under these beliefs can complicate parenting, even while they serve to make a more spiritually fulfilling and harmonious home. Parents who don’t subscribe to the traditional tenets of right and wrong, often eschew using fear and punishment as motivators in their parenting. Therefore, they find themselves partnering with their children to create the “rules” by which their families operate. It may, sometimes, look like it would be easier to lay down edicts and enforce them through might, especially when each request and family activity requires conscious thought and discussion, not only within the parent, but also in the manner it takes to convey concepts to the child. Parenting while awake and aware is not for the faint of heart; it takes work, as does maintaining our own consciousness for ourselves. I’d like to share such an example that has presented itself in my parenting, in case readers confront trying to explain the same complexity to their children.

One of the results of living the idea, “there is no such thing as right or wrong,” in my life, is that I have stopped concerning myself with others’ opinions about me. Every person on this planet is on their own path, and thus views the actions of others through the lens of their own prior experiences, both pain- and joy- producing. Therefore, when people encounter an event, through the action of another, it is weighted, subconsciously in most cases, by their own baggage, meaning they aren’t only experiencing the current situation, but are also feeling the echoes of all their other past, related, circumstances heaped on top of this occurrence. This heightened state can cause negative reactions, instead of pure responses, that aren’t always congruent with what is taking place in the moment. Consequently, we would all benefit from learning not to take what others say and do personally, from either perspective (as the doer or the recipient). I know I cannot control how others see or interpret me or my actions, so I do my best to live my life in a loving way, fully being Who I Really Am. I know that if I am doing so, I cannot own how others perceive me due to this understanding of the confluence of the past and present. Because no person is 100% awake and enlightened all the time, no interaction is ever completely free of this meeting of the past and present, so communications are rife with misunderstanding. This detached mindset can ease many hurt feelings. 

That’s not to say, however, that there aren’t lessons to be learned from others’ responses to our actions. I view how others perceive me as part of those natural consequences I spoke of before, a mirror through which I can see myself and assess whether I am acting authentically. For instance, if someone gets offended by my actions, I evaluate to see if I was being true to myself and acting as lovingly as possible. If in my inventory, I can honestly say that I was acting in alignment, I can come back to knowing that their response is a reaction weighted by their own past experiences, and let it go, conscious that it has nothing to do with me. 

But if, when I hold their response up as a mirror into my soul, I see that I have acted outside of who I believe myself to be (translation: I see that I have been a jerk) because in my case I hope I am always acting in pure love - as a being of light - then I know that their response was a negative consequence meant to point me back to my true self. In this type of situation, along with their negative response, I will often have an icky feeling inside that occurs simultaneously warning me that I may have acted outside of myself (translation: like a jerk). Coupled together this is an important sign I need to reevaluate my attitude. These negative consequences are extremely effective in helping us to self-determine our behavior and children can be taught to use them as well.

However, as I said before, some of these higher-level concepts are difficult to understand as adults, and even more so to explain to children. What happens, though, when part of the message gets lost, and as children often do, they only internalize part of the meaning, disregarding others? My daughter takes things very literally. I have always modelled for her that I am not afraid of the judgment of others and that I am quite comfortable with being different: in beliefs, life-style, fashion, parenting practices, and more. I have tried to instill in her that life is about living true to herself and true to her beliefs, and that she cannot control how others perceive her. Therefore, while she has a stated choice to treat others with love, she is not responsible, nor is it her business what they think of her. 

Recently, though, I’ve noticed a trend in our conversations that indicates she may have misinterpreted some of my message about not caring about what others think of me…or her. I observed that she began being short with people, and when I would ask her about if she wanted to be someone who was kind or someone who was disrespectful, she would answer with “Well, since we don’t care what other people think about us, why does it matter?”

I explained that I thought she had missed the point. Not caring what others think of me, in a spiritual sense, doesn’t give me, in my opinion, free license to do whatever I want. I used this opportunity to reemphasize that while in my true authentic self, others’ opinions don’t matter, I view their responses as consequences and tools to keep me honest (and treating people kindly) as described above. I again asked her to define the person she wishes to be and make her decisions on how she treats others from that starting point. As hard as this is from a human-parent standpoint, as a spiritual, conscious parent, I do this knowing fully that it is not my business who she is, it is only my job to help her determine if she is acting congruently with the choices she has made about herself.

Teaching these concepts isn’t a one-off deal. As she matures, simplistic explanations for desired behaviors will no longer hold up, and at each age and new milestone of development she will need more explanation and understanding. When she was smaller, it was enough to say, “I am nice to people because it is the loving thing to do,” or “Let’s be loving” and since she wanted to be love in the world, it fit within her agenda. But now that she is a pre-teen, she is asserting some autonomy and critical thinking skills, and wanting to understand how relationships work on a deeper level than just “be nice to others.” Knowing her, I hope and believe she will continue to choose to Be Love…but again, that is her choice, and hers alone.

Helping her see how interactions with others will lead her back to herself and her stated goal to “treat others with love” will teach her much more than if I punish her or set out strong rules for how I expect her to act. In the long run, that is the goal of parenting in the CwG world, to raise children who are strong in their sense of self, their connection to God, their understanding of oneness with others, and the ability to make decisions for their Highest Good. This, more than dictating actions, will ensure they experience love of self, and love of others.

First published under the CWG Voices heading of Neale Donald Walsch's CWG Connect. Click here for more information.

Emily A. Filmore is co-author of Conversations with God for Parents with Neale Donald Walsch and Laurie Lankins Farley. (Rainbow Ridge, 2015), and author of The Marvelous Transformation: Living Well with Autoimmune Disease, about her experiences with chronic illness. (Central Recovery Press 2015). She is also the author of the With My Child series of children's books about family bonding (Withmychildseries.com). She is one of the CWG Voices, a group of people selected by Neale Donald Walsch who know his material well enough to earn his endorsement. Emily is available for personal and spiritual mentoring, and may be contacted at emilyfilmore.com