Monday, January 11, 2010

A Nonjudgmental Presence...with Kids?

The other day, in my post about the movie, "Silent Night," I posted a quote by Henri Nouwen...

A Nonjudgmental Presence

...... Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence. We are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label. When we walk around as if we have to make up our mind about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we will only create more division. Jesus says it clearly: "Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge; ... do not condemn; ... forgive" (Luke 6:36-37).

In a world that constantly asks us to make up our minds about other people, a nonjudgmental presence seems nearly impossible. But it is one of the most beautiful fruits of a deep spiritual life and will be easily recognized by those who long for reconciliation.

And it reminded me of another quote I have saved...scrawled on an index card…from Knowing When It's Right by Nancy Rosanoff

Remember that the most powerful act of parenthood is to listen and support your child to discover their own truth. Then ask, "what would my child (15 years from now) have wanted me to do?"

Well isn’t that just the hundred thousand (million) dollar question. In 15 years what would my child have wanted me to do?

Would they....she…thinking specifically here of one of my three kids....have wanted me to talk her out of the dinner plate sized octopus tattoo on her right hip? The one she got lickety split on December 29th, the very day she turned 18?


octopus tattoo

And what about all the other decisions, large and small, trivial and monumental?  The struggles we've been through, the turmoil, the arguments, the angst?  When she is 33 will she think I did a pretty good job? When she is 43?

And, just for the record, if there is any justice in the universe...any sowing and reaping....any karma.... she will have a totally unruly, belligerent teen on her own hands…and she will be trying to decide the right things to do.

Doug Larson summed it up quite nicely when he said:

Few things are more satisfying than seeing your own children have teenagers of their own.

And Eckhart also has some advice about raising kids in his book A New Earth…

If you have young children, give them help, guidance, and protection to the best of your ability, but even more important, give them space---space to be. They come into this world through you, but they are not "yours". The belief "I know what's best for you" may be true when they are very young, but the older they get, the less true it becomes. The more expectations you have of how their life should unfold, the more you are in your mind instead of being present for them. Eventually, they will make mistakes, and they will experience some forms of suffering, as all humans do. In fact, they may be mistakes only from your perspective. What to you is a mistake may be exactly what your children need to do or experience. Give them as much help and guidance as you can, but realize that you may also at times have to allow them to make mistakes, especially as they begin to reach adulthood. At times, you may also have to allow them to suffer. Suffering may come to them out of the blue or it may come as the consequence of their own mistakes.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could spare them from all suffering? No, it wouldn't. They would not evolve as human beings and would remain shallow, identified with the external form of things.

Not specifically about kids, in The Power of Now he says:

I cannot tell you any spiritual truth that deep within you don't know already. All I can do is remind you of what you have forgotten.

And perhaps amidst all the struggles, they will...unbeknownst to them...return the favor….


nancy rosanoff said...

Thanks for quoting from my book: "Knowing When It's Right" - I, too, am interested in Truth, beyond religious posturing, and I am a big fan of the teachings of Jesus.
I'm going to attempt to link with my site: themetaview
Nancy Rosanoff

Cindi said...

thank you for stopping by and commenting. Your quote has guided my decisions more than once with my kids.