Author Topic: Children  (Read 6262 times)

Andrew

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Children
« on: May 21, 2011, 02:41:00 PM »
Hi Sangha,

I have often heard it said; 'We are not born selfish, that children have a pure innocence, unspoiled perception etc', and a whole lot of idealized attributes that adults wish they at least once possessed. I have worked out who says this sort of stuff; those without children!

Children have complete personalities from the get go, they are amazingly and completely individual. They are also completely ignorant, greedy and easily angered!

I look at my sons and I think there is no cause and effect, no system or purposeful meaning to how and why thing are the way they are. So many coincidences, so many other possibilities, nothing that you can say 'there, that's it!'

An example. Tonight my youngest son and middle son got in a big fight in the bathroom. Being obliged by law to look after them (damn duty of care!), I intervened and proceeded to met out discipline and words fitting the displays of anger and violence they had engaged in. I gave my best impersonation of Angry Dad Andy.

Later on I sat them both down and with my best impersonation of Patient Andy, explained interactively the process of becoming angry. They were very attentive and provided all of the content through thoughtful answers to my questions. I was able to show them how what they had done was like playing Nintendo with there eyes shut, they nearly lost all there lives because they did not see the baddies coming!

I was able to describe Mindfulness to them, showing them how all humans blindly follow their feelings because they do not have much Mindfulness.

I used the analogy of finding their favorite toy irreparably damaged on the floor. I asked them "how would you feel?" The youngest (7) answered "Sad" the middle son (9) said "Angry". Then I asked them what that felt like in their bodies. The youngest said "sort off hurting" and pointed to his chest. The middle son said "Hollow in my throat". we said we were probably sad first, then quickly angry. We made the faces to each other, and laughed a bit about it. 

We discussed this a little and discussed what sort of thoughts there would be as well.
The middle son said "Mind Stressed" for Sad, and "Mind Crazy" for angry. We were getting some where!

I then asked what is the first thing we would say? Middle son said "Who did this?!" Of course!
We discussed that anger is always blaming something, it is when we think something that has happened  shouldn't have or something that hasn't happened should have, we think someone is responsible for these things. We get angry. We look for someone to blame. Then I filled in the rest of the imaginary toy example we had used, that it had actually fallen off the shelf through vibration and the draft of a closing door. It had  been placed on the edge of the shelf. They could see how the whole process of getting angry in the hypothetical story was in vain. No one was to blame.

I discussed Mindfulness in terms of seeing these things happening in ourselves all the time, seeing the different people we become when feelings and thoughts come out of nowhere. I told them about the 100's of Andys I had inside of me, and all the different people they were all the time. I said "Are the two attentive thoughtful boys sitting listening patiently to me the same two murderous angry people fighting in the shower?" I'm not sure they had an insight moment, but they seemed to get the idea that they could learn to see these things happening and have some distance from them, especially when I used the Nintendo example!

Next time you are tempted to believe your parents are responsible for who you are, have a good think about what qualifies you to make such a judgement!. I can assure you that if you had to raise yourself (through the use of the Tardris, or Delorian Time machine!) you would not be too different from who you are now. It is a mystery who we really are and why we are born where and when we are; it is a complete mystery!.

My advice? (Not that anyone asked!) Be grateful you have come to a place in life that you have knowledge that Mindfulness exists and is possible to practice. Every other consideration is a waste of time in my honest opinion.

Quote
The Buddha always told his disciples not to waste their time and energy in metaphysical speculation. Whenever he was asked a metaphysical question, he remained silent. Instead, he directed his disciples toward practical efforts. Questioned one day about the problem of the infinity of the world, the Buddha said, "Whether the world is finite or infinite, limited or unlimited, the problem of your liberation remains the same." Another time he said, "Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions have been answered, the man might die first." Life is so short. It must not be spent in endless metaphysical speculation that does not bring us any closer to the truth.

loving friendliness to all

Andrew

Edit: In case you are wondering, like I am, what all that had to do with the opening sentence, it doesn't really prove my statements at all, in the minds of the 'pristine childhood' exponents, I'm just another Crap Dad in a long line of them. The reality is this story is just another episode in a long line of mysterious coincidences that constitute 'raising children'. It is thankfully, the first one that I feel that I have an answer to that ancient dilemma of getting kids to behave, while leaving something of their spark intact..and it beats the crapola out of threatening them, I hate being angry at people I love.. . ;D



« Last Edit: May 21, 2011, 03:26:10 PM by Andrew »
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Matthew

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Re: Children
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2011, 10:34:09 PM »
Later on I sat them both down and with my best impersonation of Patient Andy, explained interactively the process of becoming angry. They were very attentive and provided all of the content through thoughtful answers to my questions. I was able to show them how what they had done was like playing Nintendo with there eyes shut, they nearly lost all there lives because they did not see the baddies coming!

I was able to describe Mindfulness to them, showing them how all humans blindly follow their feelings because they do not have much Mindfulness.

....

Next time you are tempted to believe your parents are responsible for who you are, have a good think about what qualifies you to make such a judgement!
.....


After such a great and unusual example of parenting I disagree. It is clear environment is, as scientists say, around 80% or more of what shapes a person.

Matthew

ps Keep it up. good dad Andy :)
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Jeeprs

Re: Children
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2011, 12:14:44 AM »
I second Matthew!

Actually I am a little further down the line, as I have two older sons. My view is that character is a combination of temperament and environment, nature and nurture, and both are inexorably part of their make-up -  it is not one or the other. My sons were born with generally very even temperaments, are not prone to moods. My mother (now deceased, may she rest in peace) said from the time my eldest was a small child 'you will never have any problems with that one. Old head on young shoulders.' Proved prophetic. (Actually as we are all friends here, I will (proudly) show off his current job.)

Reasoning with your children like you are is a wonderful thing to do, it teaches them how to think, not what to think, which is the essence of education (the word actually means 'to bring forth'). It is the only way to go. And your insight about human nature not being perfect is of course perfectly true also. But our children come through us, we are only their carers and custodians for a while, ultimately they are, of course, responsible for themselves, and I think you're doing a great job preparing them for that.

Andrew

  • Member
    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Children
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2011, 03:06:52 AM »
Morning Brothers!

Does science know why we are born where we are? What determines our parents? Why were we born now (in this generation)? Do you have faith that it will find it out for you?

Science knows nothing about these mysteries. It looks and thinks it sees two things, see they co relate and says 'we know why Y happens, it is because of X!'

It is all the rage since the rise of psychology to talk about ones parents as a cause. But look closer! Where does it start? Trying to work out the origin of evil is the single biggest stumbling block in my opinion.

Things seem to fit together in a cause and effect sequence, but that is an illusion caused by ignorance. Our ignorance.

Don't get me wrong, I'm just as quick to jump to blame someone or something, but I have faith now that Buddha was not bullshitting us when he said "the problem of your liberation remains the same"

Infinite worlds versus finite ones. Did Adam mess up 4000 years ago? Did Satan fall from heaven? Did god create the world? Did dad screw up my life? THEY ARE ALL THE SAME QUESTION!! "Is there someone I can blame?" Your answer determines the likelihood of liberation in this lifetime according to buddha.

I'm happy to finally have some confidence in this truth, it aches to accept it, a big part of me is like "NOOOOO"

Incase anyone is wondering, yes I am putting this out there because I have seen many threads on this forum which put forward the 'pristine child' myth. I feel it will do some a world of good to examine the assumption with more care.

Let it go, Let it be, watch the rise and fall, and be free.

loving friendliness to all

Andrew

Edit: Excuse the preachy tone, that's just how it rolls for me sometimes. I blame sitting through 25 years of sunday sermons!!
« Last Edit: May 22, 2011, 03:28:14 AM by Andrew »
getting it done

Jeeprs

Re: Children
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2011, 06:16:03 AM »
The 'myth of the fall' is of great symbolic significance. I have never, incidentally, believed it was literally true, I didn't believe in Adam and Eve (and Santa, and the rest) since I can remember thinking about it - I always knew it was simply a story. But through studying religion, I have come to think that it is a 'myth that is truer than history'.

But, even knowing that it is not literally true, it retells the wisdom that humans are born with many propensities towards (how shall we say) unwholesome behaviors. I don't know if there is a 'scientific explanation' for it, but it is a fact of the human condition.

Morning Dew

Re: Children
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2011, 06:20:34 AM »
Quote
I blame sitting through 25 years of sunday sermons!!

This sounds like a jail sentence ;D
Inmate Andy ;)

Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
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Re: Children
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2011, 06:35:41 AM »
Shawshank Redemption Andy tunnelled his way out, one realization at a time!.

He found the whole world was a prison as well, so Tunnelling has begun again! ;)

getting it done

jernej

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Re: Children
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2011, 08:20:25 AM »
Very interesting post and observations.

I also used to think that parents (or environment in general) are crucial for a child's development. Now that I am a father of a 2 year old girl, my perception has changed.

I've observed (in much the same way you have) that children have personality from day 0. You see it when you observe your child and her peers. Very different. Some would just sleep, some would be "eating" the world with their eyes; some would cry, some cuddle and so on and on.

However, children are also very helpless when it comes to their emotions. A very weak impulse can throw them off tracks completely. They would cry, yell, throw themselves on the floor. And here is where in my opinion parents play the key role.

You can call it "explaining mindfulness" or use the more popular "emotional intelligence" term, but what you did is in my opinion great and exactly what children need. Understanding emotions, accept them, but control them in a way, not letting them overflow them and take control of their minds.

Many parents would yell on their children when they cry. Or try to argue with them when it's clear they've literary "lost their mind". A mindful parent would in my opinion help the child calm down and let them see the picture, what's going on inside them. Sometimes even naming the emotions is a relief (anger, hunger, helplessness are very easy to confuse).

And at the end of the day, understanding, accepting and controlling the emotions is a very important part of personality, either on how one perceives self or how others perceive a person and their social interactions.

Or course there are extreme cases, where bad situations can shape a large part of a personality (violence in family, orphans, war etc...).

So, in my opinion our role, the role of parenting is one of the most important roles in our lives. Unfortunately, we are never trained for it!

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Children
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2011, 11:16:00 AM »
....
I also used to think that parents (or environment in general) are crucial for a child's development. Now that I am a father of a 2 year old girl, my perception has changed.

I've observed (in much the same way you have) that children have personality from day 0.

.....

Recent scientific research has shown that whilst in the womb the child is already being environmentally conditioned. This environmental conditioning depends on the food supply through the mothers bloodstream, the type of hormonal balance of the mother (high in cortisol and adrenaline makes for a baby born more ready to fight for example). Some of these effects are epigenetic, in that the conditions in the womb will trigger different genetic expression in the child. We may be born with A set of genes but HOW THEY ARE EXPRESSED depends on environment, not just the genes.

Therefore your "day 0" impression is of a child that has gone through several months of strong conditioning that affect mood, basic stance to the world and even genetic expression.

The mistake being made is to think that day 0 is when they pop out of their mother - it's not in this regards. It is the day of conception or very soon after.

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Children
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2011, 12:23:12 PM »

As far as 'get go' I mean from 'honey I'm pregnant' not just birth. They are different from the start. My oldest was quite active in the womb, the middle one was sleepy, and the last one very quiet, I ac. In life they are almost the opposite, the youngest bounces off walls non stop!

People are often bombarded with things like "Love is just a chemical'. the statement implies love is as lowly as a chemical. This is called the Genetic Fallacy. Because we think we have found a humble supposedly fully understood cause (a humble genesis), we can devalue things which seem to be caused by it, in this case Love (or any number of emotions).

What it actually reveals is that the value judgements we have for one thing have been transfered on the other. In this case we believe we completely understand chemicals, that they are just inanimate lifeless reactions of know elements in a know set of atomic laws. It actually tells us nothing about Love or the chemicals, just our value judgements.  We could equally say 'Chemicals are far more wonderful and mysterious as we can see them interacting in our feelings of Love!' Which is actually closer to the truth in my opinion.

We see children being born and we imagine they are being shaped by us. I make decisions and I imagine they are free. But I am not free. I have never been free. If I was free then none of the suffering in the world would exist. Is the planet free? No the planet will die just as you and I die. It just takes a little longer.

To take this further, in the case of children, what determined the day of conception? Some impulse in the parents to make love, maybe with intent to conceive, maybe not. What does science say about that? Plenty I'm sure! There will be discusions of times of the month, significant dates (Valentines Day! ;)) but you can see how absurd it starts getting. Once we have turn over every rock, will science be then enlightened?

Science will keep smashing and cutting and writing it down, and then they will say we have found the Ignorance gene, and the Greed gene, and the Hatred gene, they will proceed to give us pills to solve these problems. We will then be completely and absolutely lost.

I guess I'm putting forward my own version of dependent co-arising, which is something I've been geeking out on, in a mystical sort of way, for years.

To put what I'm intuiting a bit clearer I might say, in the words of a scientist (whom I can't remember!) 'the world is seemingly endless in it's possibilities, until one of them happens. Then it is obvious to us it could not have been any other way' (paraphrased and possibly misquoted, but eh, sue me :-*)

loving friendliness to all scientists, may they all joyfully realize nirvana.

Andrew

getting it done

Joe

  • Member
Re: Children
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2011, 01:48:57 PM »
I think I remember reading that it's around age 5 - 7 that the mind takes hold.

Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Children
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2011, 02:33:54 PM »
Hi Joe!
Do you have any memories from that age? I can remember back to 4 years old. My oldest son can remember being 1! Mind and body are certainly one and the same thing in my opinion. But I've had too many opinions today, it would be good to hear some of yours! Care to elaborate on the 'mind kicking in' thing?

Perhaps that is when we start to have an internal dialogue? Once language skills have started to solidify?

loving friendliness

Andrew

getting it done

jernej

  • Member
Re: Children
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2011, 04:27:45 PM »
I think I remember reading that it's around age 5 - 7 that the mind takes hold.

I haven't read this book http://www.amazon.com/Buddhas-Brain-Practical-Neuroscience-ebook/dp/B003TU29WU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=A1137BFJCEMYYW&s=digital-text&qid=1306077639&sr=1-1 but supposedly it explains that even adult brain (and mind) still evolve.

One interesting quote from the book is "the brain is shaping the mind, but at the same time the mind is shaping the brain". Which makes sense from mindfulness point of view, right?

Recent scientific research has shown that whilst in the womb the child is already being environmentally conditioned.

Exactly, and with the new technology we have an opportunity to get to know them way before they are born  ;)
My daughter was very active as a small pea, with barely any brain cells, but waving her arms and having fun. And she's still that way.

soma

Re: Children
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2011, 11:07:22 PM »
Andrew wrote:

Quote
People are often bombarded with things like "Love is just a chemical'. the statement implies love is as lowly as a chemical.


What is lowly about chemicals ?
Does not spirit manifest as atoms, molecules, chemicals and the processes which they themselves are, and also are part of ?
'You' as a process yourself are made up of all these other processes and can not be seperated from them which I'm sure you already know.

Just because we can identify how the vehicle is build and how it runs does not answer the question, who/what build the vehicle.

great thead and nice to hear that your children has such a wise father  :)


Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
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Re: Children
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2011, 01:03:46 AM »

Just because we can identify how the vehicle is build and how it runs does not answer the question, who/what build the vehicle.


Awesome question!

Who is raising the children?

Who is wise?

Not me!

:D

A
getting it done

soma

Re: Children
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2011, 01:19:56 AM »
Quote
Who is raising the children?

Who is wise?

Not me!

:D

A

Ok, so it must be your wife then   ;)

Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
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Re: Children
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2011, 01:41:10 AM »
Ha HA HA HA ha hmmm  >:( 

A wise guy heh? 8) yeah you are probably right actually!!!  :D :D
« Last Edit: May 23, 2011, 01:43:20 AM by Andrew »
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Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
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Re: Children
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2011, 07:55:16 AM »
A recent photo of me and the boys;



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Crystal Palace

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Re: Children
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2011, 08:24:51 AM »
hahahaahah!!!

I had a good laugh on that. thank you!  :)
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Children
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2011, 09:00:34 AM »
How are you CP?
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Crystal Palace

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Re: Children
« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2011, 11:19:58 AM »
Hi Andy,

Im doing okay...certainly better than the crisis I had hit a couple of months back here http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,1427.msg12223.html#msg12223

Im currently testing my patience and trying to increase it. I will be going for a 10 day retreat in the first week of July, and Im relly looking forward to spending some quite time alone, far from the madness of this place. I will have some free time after that and I look forward to spending some of it here with you guys.

I am really happy with the way things are going on this forum and some of the recent discussions have been really interesting.

Thanks you asked  :)

Be well man!
Crystal Palace

"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Andrew

  • Member
    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Children
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2011, 12:15:58 PM »
I'm glad you are going so well. The retreat sound cool, and the free time just as good! Oh look at that, I just discovered Jealous Andy! :P

Peace to you Crystal Palace!

Andy
getting it done

 

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