The fact that beginnings are important is never more obvious than when one holds a newborn baby. The feeling of responsibility and desire to do the right thing can be overwhelming. A normal reaction, when parents realise how important they are to their child’s early development and education, is a feeling of inadequacy. This gives rise to panic and a desire to pass on the responsibility to someone else — a nurse at the clinic, social worker, house help or teacher.
When parents panic about parenthood, it is because they have temporarily forgotten that we are only asked and, indeed, are only able to cope with one thing in one moment. We are not, for instance, asked to cope with a baby as a schoolchild and teenager as soon as she is born. Her needs and questions do not come in one overwhelming package. We need only attend, and give attention to each need as it arises.
MIND OF A CHILD
While we are nursing a baby, if we worry about what is in store for her and us when she is a schoolchild or a teenager, we deprive her and ourselves of the opportunity to enjoy and live that moment fully. The danger of panic is that we miss what is happening, what is needed now. When we attend to the moment we are actually living, we are able, one-step at a time, to build a secure platform, which serves as a springboard to the next step. A secure baby becomes a secure child; a secure child becomes a secure teenager and adult. Parent and child grow together, step by step.
The mind of the parent is the most powerful influence that a child meets in her formative years. She will absorb ‘food’ of a parent’s thoughts and beliefs as easily as, when a baby, she absorbed her mother’s milk.
Parents who take their doubled responsibility seriously always find the strength to take a detached look at themselves, at the ideas they hold and at the limitations and prejudices they carry over the years. Those who then make a determined effort to root out any that they know will impeded their child’s physical, mental, emotional or spiritual growth, are the best that any child could hope for.
Consider, for a moment, what life would be like if parents began each day as a totally new and fresh experience, with none of yesterday’s burdens or tomorrow’s uncertainties. What a day that would be!
If one is in any doubt that this is the way to successful parenting and also the richest happiest and fullest way to live, one needs only to recall one’s own early childhood or to look at life through the eyes of a normal child.
The first thing that is evident is contentment, which stems from a child’s ability to make the most of whatever is presented in any one moment, whether it is a rattle to pat or a leaf to examine. The freedom from tension that arises from living the moment that is actually happening is wonderfully refreshing to experience. Likewise, if we could, just for a moment, look at the adult condition through our childhood or child’s eyes, we should realise that most adults (parents) fail to live simply because they spend time reliving moments that have already been lived!
Parents should be born anew like a baby and begin life afresh. From that time forth, every day presents infinite opportunities to experience life a new, in step with one’s child.