Parenting can give us dozens of opportunities (sometimes all in one day) to be taken to our edge. Sleep deprivation, crying and whining can bring one to her threshold. One practice that I find so helpful is to soften my edge when I get there. Typically when I find edge my child is clearly needing a connection. When I take a moment to soften, to embody the element of water I can flow and move through these “crunchy” moments. I can pause, take a breath and ask, what does my child need? How can I respond with love and connection rather than react to the communication or behavior that triggers an “edginess”. How can I re-frame the feeling of sacrifice to a feeling of being in service. THE PATH OF PARENTING, TWELVE PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE YOUR JOURNEY by Vimala McClure has been a valuable resource combining doable parenting practices with an invitation to embody the parent you strive to be for your child. Read on to hear Vimala share a little more about how the element of water can help you relax.
Principle One: Relax
Taoists say that water is the most yielding of all things, yet it can overwhelm that which is most hard — rock. The three aspects of water that are particularly useful to us as parents are those most closely identified with the Tao, or God.
First, water nourishes without needing to be nourished. Like water, which nourishes all things without discrimination and without needing anything in return, good parents give selflessly to their children. They provide for their children’s physical welfare, intellectual growth, emotional security, and spiritual connection without expecting anything in return. They are willing to sacrifice, if necessary, so their children may grow and prosper. The “martyr” parent, who exacts payment in guilt for every sacrifice, is not part of this paradigm. We remember that every principle contains its clarity in seed form, and we can catch ourselves before fatigue or frustration goad us to shame our children for requiring so much of us. . .
Second, water flows into places where there is seemingly no room. Rigid things cannot do this. Only that which is relaxed, yielding, and fluid can go into places of seemingly no space and be effective there. . . To get to this type of receptivity, a practice of conscious relaxation is a must. . . This allows you to be able to flow into the cracks and crevices of a child’s hurts and anger, to soothe, to heal, to allow the child to find wholeness again, and, best of all, to allow the child to claim the finding of that wholeness for herself.
The third aspect of water that we can learn about and use is its immutable nature. While all things animate and inanimate are “made” of Tao, it is impossible to truly separate it from itself. Therefore, there is an aspect of being that is unchangeable and is not separate — between you and your child, the dog or cat, or the rocks in your driveway. All is one. . . When an individual dipper of water is placed into the ocean, it merges with the ocean as if separation never existed. The type of strength we need as parents is that of water, not rock. . . We need the kind of strength that flows over obstacles, rather than that of the sledge hammer. . . Children need to know that nothing they say or do will break us, make us snap. When they know our strength, they relax into it, and they develop that kind of strength for themselves. Respect for us arises out of their confidence in our strength; eventually, they want to be like us.