My Child, My First Spiritual Teacher -
an Article by Nilanjana Krishnan
It is a popular belief that our parents are our first teachers
and I absolutely agree with that notion. Everything was hunky
dory as long as I was a child (because my parents had to do all
the worrying ;-)),
but now that I am a parent, the responsibility of being my child’s
first teacher is not only immense but also intimidating at times.
I realized that something needed to change to make parenting enjoyable,
effortless and effective. This called for a shift in perspective – my perspective.
For a very long time I had believed that I, the parent have all the answers that my child needs because a little one is not very likely to know all that I, the adult know. This was my first parenting fallacy! In due course of time I realized that my child has so much to offer and I had hardly ever acknowledged him for the gifts he had given me. My son has shown me what it is to live in the moment and that worrying about the past or the future is futile. He has even demonstrated that we are all one; he treats everyone equally, no matter what race or ethnicity they may belong to.
Therefore, my new perspective is to allow my child to be my teacher. My child knows as much as or maybe even a little more than I do about life. How do you think I know this to be true for me? Well, so often we adults remind one another to look at the world through the eyes of a child; now why would we say that? I believe that deep down inside every grown-up there is a child waiting to be unleashed. This inner child wants to love unconditionally, trust every person, get curious about every little thing, express every emotion, and be so much more. So I felt that if I surrendered in faith to my child, he would show us the way – the way he would like his life to unfold; the way he would like his family interactions to be; the kind of activities he would love to engage in; the type of friends he would want to bring home; the kind of foods he would like to try, and what not.
Does this mean I let him cross the road alone or let him fix his own breakfast at the stove-top? No, I don’t mean that. I am his custodian; I am responsible for providing his basic needs for physical sustenance. As a caretaker, I also feel responsible for holding the space for letting him be what he is being moment to moment; be his witness and cheerleader as he experiments with his limitless mind and experiences being the free spirit that he is.
Let me reiterate: I am my child’s custodian only and not his owner. Kahlil Gibran, the famous Lebanese poet and spiritual teacher has written a poetic essay on children in a collection that’s named, “The Prophet” and an excerpt from the poem is as follows:
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
This message resonates deeply with me and I remind myself ever so often to embody the wisdom from this beautiful piece by Kahlil Gibran.
So, have I figured it all out and am I now an infallible parent? All I can confidently state is that I am on a conscious parenting journey for which there is never a destination; the journey is all of it. There are several moments where I temporarily lose my connection with my inner guidance and dump my emotional baggage on my child or state something in anger or frustration. The good news here is that I get the awareness in the moment (or soon after) I display my “not so graceful” emotions, and I am quick to apologize to my son. I also add, “Please remind me to be a better mom. Whenever I get angry please remind me that I can talk to you about it. Also remind me that anger weakens and love strengthens.” This is how I make peace with myself and my son. When the roles get reversed, and my son is throwing a fit or is in a bad mood, I gently remind him to express his emotions in words; and then hold the space for him to express himself.
As you can well imagine, all of this takes a lot of discipline, practice, faith and commitment. What I have learned from a spiritual perspective is that when I set an intention for my state of being (example: being patient, being accepting, being communicative, being confident, etc.), I am able to easily embody that state for as long as I hold that intention. This has helped me a great deal with respect to parenting.
My son has started me on a spiritual journey: a journey that has made me delve within and uncover parts of me, I had never seen before. I am ever so grateful for this boundless spirit housed in a tiny body that has chosen me to be his mother in this life experience, and for handing down gifts that are priceless. I am so glad that our children refuse to be born with user manuals, for if they did, how would we experience our life lessons and what would happen to evolution? :)
About Nilanjana Krishnan:
Nilanjana lives a life that is an expression and reflection of her life's purpose, which is being the change she wants to see in her children, through living a life in harmony with nature. As an advocate for children--who are the future and hope of our planet--she invites all individuals, families, and institutions that influence our children to join hands in becoming the change first. She extends this way of being to all facets of her life, from choosing the right foods to patronizing eco-friendly and conscious companies that are aware of their impact on our world.
Nilanjana firmly believes that the choices we make in each moment will determine the future we create and bestow on our future generations. She holds a bachelor's degree in engineering and a master's degree in business administration and has worked in engineering and information technology industries in sales and business development. She is a volunteer with the Distance Healing Network as a Reiki Level 2 healer. Nilanjana lives in Seattle, WA, with her husband Venkatesh and their two lovely boys, Harsha and Rishab
Nilanjana has now just finished her new book; "I know the way" for families with young children, based on the 2500 year old Chinese Philosophy called the Tao Te Ching.
Her primary inspiration for this book was Dr. Wayne Dyer (who has also written a book based on the Tao, but for an adult audience