“Under heaven, all can see beauty as beauty, only because there is ugliness. All can know good as good only because there is evil. Being and nonbeing produce each other. The difficult is born in the easy. Long is defined by short, the high by the low. Before and after go along with each other.”
– Lao-tzu 2nd Verse of “Tao Te Ching”
1) We Live in a World of Contrasts
This verse from the book of wisdom teaches us about paradoxical existence. We live in a world of contrasts. To understand and appreciate beauty, we need to learn about ugliness. We can see white because we know what black looks like. The truth is born in lies. Pain makes pleasure so alluring.
As a mature parent, you know the harsh and bitter taste of betrayal. You learned about the spiritual agony of a suffering heart and the physical soreness of broken bones. Your desire to protect your child from all the hardships of this world is understandable. Is it possible to put him in the shell of your care and safekeeping? Yes, but this existence is miserable. He won’t be able to recognize genuine friendship and companionship without knowing how disappointment and treachery hurts.
Will he value and cherish his good health unless he knows how bitter the taste of medicine is and how sore is the bruise from a clumsy fall? The minute you are not around anymore… what do you expect him to do? To learn how to clear up the road without ever holding a machete in his hand? Now without your warning and mentorship he’ll cut and bruise his gentle hands severely because they are not used to hard work.
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2) Your Mission on This Parenting-Journey
“To assist a child, we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely.”
– Maria Montessori
Your mission on this parenting-journey is to create an environment of trust and security so that your child feels love in the quantity he needs. Respect his emotions and value his innocence. Never ridicule his pure soul. Show an example of a principle-centered life. Do not think that if you teach him to trust, he may be too naïve when the time comes to stand on his own two feet. He will develop the intuition and sensitivity to read dishonesty if he knows the value of true feelings. Seeing your loving attitude, he will note any trace of betrayal ahead of time.
He will still make mistakes here and there, but they will be few in comparison with the disastrous consequences that could’ve taken place in a different case scenario. Imagine a child growing up in a family where he is scolded and misunderstood. The environment of selfishness and lack of love: where whatever love he gets is controlled and given in small amounts. Later in life he won’t be able to see white and black in people and relationships. He won’t be able to trust his friends or spouse. He will look for a deceitful motive in any person’s actions towards him. He’ll suspect unfaithfulness everywhere. And the pain of it he will taste in full because choosing the right person will be hard.
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Without experiencing true love and care, he won’t know if what he’s got is good and worth cherishing. He will see a gaze of humiliation and think it may be a loving one because he saw the same thing coming from the very people he used to trust with his whole heart.
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Love is the key. Respect is the door. And happiness in life is the path that this door leads to.
Your assignment in this journey of parenting life exploration is to be a guide, not a guard; to explain the nature of things, good and bad, not hide their existence. Do not try to clear the road but predict the stony ground or the dark path through a forest full of dangers and prepare him, equip him with the right gear for the hard trip.