by Susan Haid
What do we teach our children about authority?
There are several simple but critically important keys for raising empowered children. We can give our kids the tools they need, starting at a very young age. These tools will empower them throughout their lives as they grow, yet they are core values that will evolve more fully as time passes. Let me first state that by core values, I am referring to values that develop and mature from within the child and are not imposed upon the child from the outside. The point is to nurture the growth of concrete navigational equipment that is rooted from within the child and stems from the child’s own personal life experience. This will result in a powerful form of self- knowledge, otherwise referred to here as “authority,” that is ultimately deeply empowering because it is the result of actual life experience. There is no better teacher than experience itself.
There are 17 basic fundamental concepts to begin with. In this article, I will be addressing the first key concept which is “authority.” For kids, this can be a confusing subject depending on the information they are given. The bottom line, if we are to cultivate empowerment within a child, is that we must support our children in developing their innate understanding of themselves, who they are, what they think, what they feel, and what they believe. By this, I mean that we must help our children to understand themselves from the inside out first, rather than imposing concepts upon them from the outside. We must help our children not only to understand but also respect what they think, feel and believe about their life experiences. As parents, we must help our children learn to trust their feelings, instincts, thoughts and reactions. If we separate our kids from this basic and often protective information, we have unwittingly initiated their path of separation from themselves and their consequent ability to move through life in a way that is constructive and healthy.
We must become very good listeners who can listen without judgment. First and foremost, we must listen to, honor and respect the thoughts and feelings of our children. Why is this so important? You see, as a child tells us their story, our listening without imposing judgment or giving advice acknowledges the individuality of their experience and validates and values their thoughts and feelings. This allows the child’s own discovery process to unfold. This allows the child’s problem-solving abilities to develop. And most potently, this allows the child to remain fully connected to their innate and natural abilities to trust their own feelings, ideas, instincts and consequent decisions about their life experiences. This supports the development of a core value system that will be difficult to challenge because it comes from within and is based on personal, real world knowledge.
How important is this key concept of self-knowledge and authority? It is critical. By supporting kids in developing self-knowledge, we help them cut through the confusion. Confusion is based in having to weigh and balance who they truly are with who they feel they are supposed to be. There is only one true answer. In addition, often along with the development of self-understanding comes compassion, and what more valuable “core value” is true and abiding compassion?
As parents, we can give our children the confidence to trust themselves in any situation by nuturing their innate ability to choose what is compassionate for themselves and others. This eliminates the possiblility of selfish, self-serving behavior yet honors each person’s right to choose for themselves. This also leads to the development of inner clarity so that abusive people and situations are seen for what they truly are.
This is true authority. It has absolutely nothing to do with the concept of power, and this is the type of guidance our children need to live healthy, happy, fulfilling lives.
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