Your children will learn serenity.
Are your children “problems to be solved,” or people to be loved?
Consider current problems with your children.
Can you create a space, free from your own anxieties, in which they are able to find their own way,
feeling your love, but not your expectations?
10. As They Are When you are with your children be one with them.
Let every part of your body relax and become as supple as your child’s.
Allow all expectations and anxieties to melt away so that you can see clearly.
Love them as they are in this very moment, without needing to change a thing.
When their lives are filled with trouble allow events to unfold without pushing or straining,
and you will understand clearly what your role should be.
You nourish them without possessing them.
You guide them without controlling them.
You help them without worrying.
Being with your child can be like meditating.
When you are with your child next, forget the past, forget the future,
and let your mind and heart come to be where your body is.
11. The Still Point A wheel spins in a circle.
The still point at the center gives it direction.
And your children will see the way ahead.
A pot has beautiful sides.
The emptiness inside makes it useful.
Empty yourself of agenda and you will be available for your children.
A good house has strong walls.
The space within the walls makes it a home.
Create space within your heart and your children will always rest secure.
Suggesting, guiding, teaching, and lecturing, although well intentioned, often creates confusion rather than clarity.
Are you filling the air with good advice and helpful strategies when you should be still, empty and spacious?
12. A Quiet Place Constant stimulation of your children’s senses creates insensitivity.
They see so much they become blind.
They hear so much they become deaf.
They taste so much they become nauseated.
They desire so much they become forever unsatisfied.
They do not come to know that which truly satisfies.
It will be hard to create a quiet place where your children can find their souls.
You must first quiet your own world and then approach theirs.
They are accustomed to the barrage of noise and will complain loudly in its absence.
But you can find a quiet way.
What can you do today?
A simple game?
13. Fear of Failure Beware of teaching your children to climb the ladder of success.
Ladders lead down as well as up.
If you overly protect your children they will fear failure and avoid pain.
But failure and pain are twin teachers of important lessons.
Unless your children fully experience both how will they know they have nothing to fear?
Your children do not learn from their successes.
They learn from their failures.
They must have complete permission to try and fail, and discover that they are still OK.
What has your child failed at recently?
How did they react?
How did that make you feel?
How can you each learn from this?
14. Their Mysterious Origin Did your children really begin with the union of your bodies?
Or is their origin more mysterious?
means no time,
Do your children,
who visit you in time,
really reside in eternity?
If you try to grasp them, they slip away.
They are more than what you see and hear and feel.
They belong somewhere else and only visit here.
So why do you worry?
If the Tao is good, it is completely good and your children are safe regardless of appearances.
I believed that when my son was struggling with problems.
I believe it now when he is a handsome, content, adult.
I will believe it if future trouble visits his life.
I believe it.
15. Be Alert and Mindful If you would be a wise parent be careful in all you do and say.
Know that each action, each word has its effect.
Be alert and mindful, living fully in each present moment.
Treat your children with courtesy as you would treat a guest.
Be ready in a moment to let go of one plan and embark on another if your inner voice so urges.
Have room within your heart to hear the voice of both your children and your own spirit.
Do not expect fulfillment from events or people outside yourself.
Welcome and accept things as they are.
Welcome and accept children as they are.
Treat yourself with gentle care.
These qualities emerge naturally, not by force of will.
16. Empty Yourself of Worries To survive as a parent you must empty yourself of your constant thinking, planning and worrying.
You and your children were born in the Tao, live in the Tao, and will return to that same Tao.
If you don’t realize this, you will mistake the sorrow you see in life for the final word,
and you will become hardened with fear.
But, knowing how things really are, you gain true confidence.
Being confident, your mind opens to see your children as they really are.
Seeing them as they really are, your heart fills with genuine love for them.
Truly loving them, you realize your own divine nature.
Realizing your true nature, you enter eternal life.
These truths lie behind all religious traditions.
17. No Need for Threats You can control your children through threats and punishments,
and they will learn to fear.
You can control their behavior by praise and reward,
and they will learn to look outside themselves for approval and worth.
You can watch over their every movement, every action, every decision, making sure they do it “right,”
and they will learn always to doubt themselves.
Or you can love and guide without controlling or interfering,
and they will learn to trust themselves.
If your child fails at something merely express your confidence in their ability to handle the consequences.
If they behave irresponsibly, merely point out the consequences to themselves and others,
and again express your trust that they will learn.
As soon as possible give them another opportunity to be appropriately responsible.
Do not slip into the downward spiral of blame, shame, and control.
It doesn’t work.
18. Natural Virtues All young children naturally love God.
As they grow they are trained by others and turn instead to piety and religion.
All young children are naturally at ease with their bodies.
As they grow, they are shamed by others and become self-conscious and filled with tension.
All young children naturally relate to other people well.
As they grow they see conflict and become fearful and guarded.
All virtues arise naturally until fear and training interfere.
Then virtues disappear and rules take their place.
42. Befriend Solitude Learning to handle the many moods and activities of life requires solitude.
Do not let the demands of an overly active world rob your children of their peace.
Constant stimulation without the balance of quietness creates chaos.
The child who early befriends solitude becomes one with all that is and inherits everything.
First you must embrace solitude in your own life.
It is more difficult that you think.
Distractions are everywhere.
Even the mind is noisy.
Give your children time to play without agenda,
to read without purpose, to daydream without limits, and to discover without fear.
All yourself the same.
43. Doing Nothing Doing nothing while your child fails requires great courage and is the way of wisdom.
Gentleness when your child misbehaves requires great self-control and is the way of power.
Do not succumb to berating, scolding, interfering, interrupting, lecturing, or controlling your child.
Let your gentle presence teach all that is necessary.
My father tried to teach me responsibility by scrutinizing my very action,
to make sure it was done right.
I did really learn responsibility until I discovered the consequences of doing it wrong.
Every mistake your child makes is another step forward on the long road to wholeness.
Every time you interfere you both step backwards.
44. Find Your Own Meaning If you look to your children to find meaning in your life, your life will be meaningless.
If you need them to be successful to feel successful yourself, you will always fail.
Your children were not born to complete your life.
They were born to complete their own.
When you look inside and discover that you have everything you need, you will find your freedom.
As long as you perceive that your life lacks something you are in danger of using your children to satisfy that lack.
This is far too great a burden for them to bear.
Are you looking to them when you need to be looking to yourself?
45. Perfection If you expect to have perfect children you will be constantly disappointed and your children constantly frustrated.
If you realize that your children are perfectly themselves in every moment, you and your children will be at peace.
Step back and watch.
You will see that Life naturally perfects itself.
Your child’s behavior may displease you.
It may even be destructive.
But it is what it is.
It is up to you to understand it and to use it for good for your child and you.
46. Each Day is a Dance When parents step outside the Way, they begin to feel vulnerable.
They become afraid of, and afraid for, their children.
They lie awake at night, afraid to confront, to correct, to love, or to hold their children.
Each day they prepare for battle.
But when parents remain in the Way, they face each day as a dance.
They have nothing to fear, therefore they produce joy.
I remember many nights of worry.
I remember many days of tiptoeing around issues, not wanting to have a confrontation,
hoping I could avoid unpleasantness.
At times I even felt these lovely persons were my enemies, hindering me and making my life unhappy.
How foolish I was.
There was nothing to fear.
47. Providing For Your children will make many demands upon your time and energy.
“Do this for us.
Buy this for us.”
They believe that these things are what they want from you.
And you may begin to believe it too.
But what they really want is your innermost heart, given in vulnerable, honest love.
This is not given by doing or buying.
The more you do, the less gets done.
The more you buy, the less you have.
But if you reveal your true nature, you provide them with everything.
Of course there are times, when I do for my children.
It is often my great pleasure.
But the things remembered, the treasured moments of sacred time,
have occurred in the quiet of gentle conversation, and honest sharing.
48. Less Is More Your children do not need more.
Each day adds more facts, more gadgets, more activities, more desires,
and more confusion to their lives.
Your task is to subtract.
The wisdom of the Tao subtracts and serenity flourishes.
If each day one minute less was spent doing something.
And one minute more was spent being present, in simple pleasures, with your children.
In two months you would transform your life, and theirs.
One minute less.
49. Giving Respect When your children behave, give them respect and kindness.
When your children misbehave, give them respect and kindness.
When they are hateful, love them.
When they betray your trust, trust them.
The River of Life nurtures everything it touches, without asking for anything.
You will be happy and content if you do the same.
Believe this difficult truth.
Showing respect in the face of disrespect, love in the face of hate,
trust in the face of betrayal, and serenity in the face of turmoil,
will teach your children more that all the moral lectures by all the preachers since the dawn of time.
50. Letting Go If you are always worried about your children’s safety, you will blind yourself and them, in cords of tension.
If you try to hold them always close to you, you will bring yourself, and them, only pain.
If you release them to live their life fully, and face their death serenely, your nights will be filled with restful sleep.
The more I grasped my children and my own desires for life, the more dangerous life appeared.
As I gradually let go plots and plans and welcomed whatever came, the safer life became for all of us.
51. Children Naturally Love Life Your children naturally love life.
Their love of life is spontaneous and unconscious.
It delights in every nuance of light and color.
It wonders at every shape and form.
It dances in their bodies without self-consciousness.
They are not taught this love.
It cannot be taught, only lived.
If you live this love for your children you will guide them, but never demand a certain response.
You will welcome them, but never smother them.
You will give birth to them, but never possess them.
You will nurture their dreams and guard their self-respect.
They will honor you naturally, not because of who you are, but because of who they are.
Don’t worry about how your children treat you.
Concentrate on how you treat yourself.
If your children see in you a sincere celebration of who you are,
they will return eventually to their natural joy, in themselves and in you.
52. All Is Well All beings belong to the Tao always.
Sorrow begins when parents forget this.
Forgetting that you belong, you cast about for security and cannot find it.
You look to your children to bring you meaning and they cannot do it.
Seeing your pain, they forget as well and everyone is in darkness.
But if you can remember that all is, has been, and will be well…
You will bring light to yourself and your children.
My father always worried about the future.
I learned his lesson well.
It has taken me years to unlearn, and still I forget.
What will your children have to unlearn?
How can you begin now to help them?
53. Don’t Make It Harder Than It Needs to Be Everyone wants to be a wise parent but few choose this path.
This is unfortunate for it is an easy path, filled with joy and with many rewards.
But it is easy to become sidetracked.
Distractions are everywhere.
As the external pressures mount be sure to notice what occurs.
Do you pursue career advancement while your children choose harmful paths?
Do you expensive toys to medicate your feelings while your children become lost in the clutter?
Do you sink into depression while your children hunger for joy?
Don’t make parenting harder than it needs to be.
It only requires focus.
Worry is not focus.
Attempting to control is not focus.
Distracting yourself is not focus.
Relaxed, non-fretful, attention to what is right in front of you right now, is focus.
What is in front of you right now?
No, not your worries or frets, what is right here, right now?
54. Create Clarity and Encourage Freedom Virtue comes from within your children.
It is a natural part of their being.
It can never be taken from them.
It follows them wherever they travel.
It guides them in all circumstances.
It will cause their life to flourish and be filled with joy.
Amidst the hundreds of voices clamoring for their attention saying,
“This way. No, that way,” your children will learn to trust their own hearts.
Thus they will act wisely.
You need not worry.
How can you keep from worry?
Look inside yourself.
We don’t trust natural goodness.
We think it must be imposed from without.
But all foolish decisions and choices grow from confusion and fear.
And confusion and fear are amplified by constant pushing and preaching.
Is there a way you can help create clarity and encourage freedom?
55. Your Children Have Lessons to Teach Your children have important lessons to learn, but even more important ones to teach.
What can they teach?
How to pay complete attention.
How to play all day without tiring.
How to le one thing go, and move on to another with no backward glances.
How to move and sit with no tension in the muscles, no stress in the bones.
Thus the wise parent learns, and grows younger every day.
How happy would your life become if every time you taught your children a new idea or skill from your world,
you stopped and watched until they taught you one from theirs?
What will you learn from them today?
56. You Have Lessons to Learn The lessons we most want to teach our children are the ones we have not yet learned ourselves.
So we continually try to teach what we do not know.
This is futile.
Try instead to refrain from talking.
Look carefully at the situation.
Let your mind be open to new understandings.
You will learn what you need to know.
And you will thus teach your children how to learn their own lessons.
Nothing teaches children more than a parent who is willing to learn.
What behavior in your children makes you anxious?
What does that tell you about yourself?
57. Reward and Punishment Be careful of rules for your children.
Rules diminish responsibility.
Be careful of rewards for your children.
Rewards diminish self-esteem.
Be careful of punishments for your children.
Punishments diminish trust.
Let lessons be imposed by the nature of things, not by your own agendas or your own needs.
Integrity will replace rules.
Contentment will replace striving.
Spirituality will replace religion.
Songs will replace arguments.
Dances will replace battles.
Don’t tell me this is overly simple.
Perhaps the most courageous act of any parent’s life will be that moment when, even though it breaks your heart,
you stand aside and let your children take the natural consequences of their actions.
58. You Can Only Demonstrate If you carry great expectations for your children, they will carry great burdens.
If you try to make them good, you will create instead their vices.
Let your teaching be subtle.
Let your strength reside in your flexibility.
Let your virtues be natural and not affected.
If your children are treated with modesty, grace, forgiveness and joy, what are they likely to learn?
There is nothing more important than the integrity of your life.
You cannot teach, impose, control, coerce, or force any virtue.
You can only demonstrate.
Put your best effort forth on your own actions, not those of your children.
59. Be Ambitious for Joy To experience joy as a parent you must be free of ambition, for yourself and for your children.
Ambition stiffens the muscles and makes the spirit brittle.
You cannot move with ease in the winds of change.
But if you release ambition you can use all of life, good and bad, as fuel for the fires of joy.
Because you demand nothing you have everything, as do your children.
Do you have ambitions, hidden or not so hidden, for yourself and for your children?
Are they reasonable?
What will happen if they are not achieved?
The adolescent years are filled with discouragement.
Children often compare themselves to impossible standards of achievement, beauty, and popularity.
Don’t encourage these comparisons.
60. Growing a Garden Dealing with difficult children is like watching a garden grow.
Resist the temptation to pull up the plants to check on the roots.
In difficult times children may thrive on conflict.
If you take the bait the battle rages.
Instead step back, breathe deeply, relax, and stay at your center.
Battle requires two parties.
One fighting alone soon tires.
Are there times when, despite all efforts, you must impose your will?
But remember, those times are far fewer than you can imagine.
Is this current battle really necessary?
61. Self Acceptance How do children learn to correct their mistakes?
By watching how you correct yours.
How do children learn to overcome their failures?
By watching how you overcome yours.
How do children learn to treat themselves with forgiveness?
By watching you forgive yourself.
Therefore your mistakes, and your failures are blessings, opportunities for the best in parenting.
And those who point out your mistakes are not your enemies but the most valuable of friends.
Your children will surely notice the way you can handle criticism.
If you get defensive and launch a counterattack, they will learn to cover up and deny their own faults.
Is there something you’re covering up now, with either depression, self-punishment, or hostility?
Accept and forgive yourself and your children will be blessed.
62. Be Happy If you have vast wealth, it will be useless in teaching your children.
If you have great power, it will be of no avail in securing their happiness.
If you have succeeded admirably in life, it will not help you keep your children safe.
Remember that you cannot teach by preaching.
Try to live wit peace, contentment, love and compassion.
This will be your lecture.
This will be your lesson.
The happier I have allowed myself to be, the happier my children have become.
The more I have become myself, the more they have don the same.
This has occurred later in my life.
63. Face Your Problems Face your problems with your children while the problems are still small.
If you give your full attention, without resentment, your problems will become no problem.
A problem is not an interruption to a serene and happy life.
A problem is an ordinary part of such a life.
Effort is not required.
If you pay calm attention, solutions appear naturally.
For years I was afraid of my children’s problems.
I had enough of my own.
I tried to solve their problems by decree and pronouncement from on high.
So their problems grew and grew.
I was not present to myself.
How could I be present to them?
As I have grown older, problems are no longer problems, just life.
They needn’t separate us from our children.
Don’t be afraid.
64. The Only Step Necessary You do not have to make your children into wonderful people.
You only have to remind that they are wonderful people.
If you do this consistently from the day they are born they will believe it easily.
You cannot force your will upon other human beings.
You can not hurry children along the road to maturity.
And the only step necessary on their long journey of life is the next small one.
I designed and printed a bumper sticker when my son was a teenager.
It said, “My child is an ordinary student, and a wonderful person.”
My son loved it.
Both of my children are, always have been, and always will be, wonderful people.
The same is true of your children.
No matter what.
65. Knowledge or Wisdom? If you try to teach your children all the facts and answers you think they need to know,