Meditation and energy coach Sara Black shares her thoughts on motherhood.
Every mother, every parent, wishes the world would become a better place for their children. How can we raise children who can participate in this shift, this change toward a world with less violence and more love?
When we hear the word freedom, we often associate it with the ability to go places, to move around, and to do whatever we want to do. While that might be a topical manifestation of freedom, what I’m referring to is the freedom to be sovereign, to have an independent mind, and to hold one’s own consciousness.
While the mentality of the herd is beneficial in some situations, we can observe it is also prone to being abused. Individuals or minorities shape thought and influence action to dominate others. We can see this working in trade and commerce all the time. From something as benign as the dairy industry advertising cow’s milk as the most important source of calcium to meet children’s dietary requirements (when there are many other more nutrient-dense sources that don’t have chemicals and hormones in them) to something as malignant as the arms industry politicking to sustain laws that support the ability to bear arms—which ends in unnecessary acts of physical violence.
Human beings are wired to be part of a collective and often surrender their independence of mind to feel part of the whole. When ill-meaning individuals take advantage of this, they are able to manipulate and influence people to act against their best interest.
Essentially, dominating another’s mind is an act of violence.
When we, and our children, are cognizant that we always have a choice and that we can act on our choices, not being swayed by others’ opinions and instead staying firm in the truth we understand, a sovereign consciousness begins to appear. We can uphold humanity through respect, and, ultimately, love.
Of course, we can begin shaping freedom for ourselves and our children at any point. But I asked myself the question, how does this apply to raising my two-year-old right now?
Here are a couple of examples of how we, as parents, encourage freedom on a daily basis. One, we ask their permission, so they can participate in choosing.
Deborah Salomon, the instructor of the parenting class I took while pregnant, via Philippine Montessori Center, gave such a stark example. Often as parents, we go in on autopilot to wipe our children’s noses when it’s all snotty, taking tissue and just rubbing down their faces. She asked us how we would feel if another adult would do the same to us, without any warning, without asking. You would most definitely be upset and feel violated! But if someone explained to you beforehand that there was mucus running down to your mouth and that you wanted to help by cleaning it up, then perhaps you would accept the help and be grateful for it after.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to situations like when they need to brush their teeth and are wailing that they don’t want to. You still need to go in with healthy boundaries and structure that children also need in order to thrive.
The other tool which I feel has really helped us encourage freedom is putting our daughter to sleep on a floor bed. Normally, infants are put to sleep in cribs. While this may have its benefits in terms of safety and ease for the parents, it removes the choice from the child with regard to something as important as sleep. With a floor bed, in time, they learn to climb into bed when they want to rest, instead of having an adult determine for them when they should be put in or taken out of the crib. In the same breath, how would you feel if someone placed you in an enclosed area where you couldn’t get out and demanded that you go to sleep? That first time our daughter went to her bed willfully, because she knew she wanted to rest, felt incredible. She was choosing.
Naturally, we still have a long way to go in raising a child that is truly free, while respecting herself and others. It’s never too early to start bringing that vision of a better world to fruition with everyday choices.