This is an unplugged conversation with parents of a learner at The Integral School. This conversation starts with no particular idea and moves in many directions drawing largely on the experiences of these parents as they grow with the learner. We do not have a script and do not have an end point. Just a journey in words.
Everything is about control. We are a society that thrives on control. It does not matter who you are or what you have to do, we look for ways to control. Control people, control emotions, control situations. That is what has been drilled into us as children. Childhood is a series of “No” in endless cycles of repetition. And then you become an “adult” and the “No” is your permanent companion. Permanent to the point that every time you open your mouth to someone else, you start with No. No, you can’t do that, No, that can’t be true, no, how can that happen, no, not to me again…and the list is endless. If you don’t say it, you think it.
That is the legacy parents give children. A series of No, don’t do this, till you realize that you were not meant to do anything by yourself. Independence, freedom, likes were words whose meaning was restricted to a dictionary. In real life, they cowered in the shadows. And if you look back or even around you, it is not just children, everyone does it to everyone. I mean, it has become a habit. Ingrained with years of drilling. We have to manage the situation!
How do you break that habit?
You have to start from children. Not any child but your child. Start with your child. Try to let them be, try not to control them, try not to manage situations. Try to let them find their way. Let them do it in different ways and find out what works for them. What will happen?
Now, that is the easiest part. Saying it, especially saying it to some one else. Say it to yourself and you can see it becoming harder. Try doing it yourself and it is a task.
We learnt this the hard way. Our son has helped us in this journey. In a sense, you can say he has been our teacher. Life moved from talking about concepts to actually having to do it. And then we realised, we actually have control over very little. He was born and then we realized, our education starts now.
If it was not for our son, we may never have realised the value of letting go. Looking back, he taught us that the best laid plans are just that, plans. What happens in the moment matters. How you adapt to the moment matters. The moment changes so rapidly and, more often than not, has no resemblance to your plans. You have to figure out then, in the moment, whose plan is this anyway? What do we get out of it? And then you experience, not talk about but experience, that the plans make no sense if it does not make you AND your child happy.
This is not about giving into every whim and fancy. This is about understanding the “why” in every situation. Why is it happening? More important, why am I doing what I am doing.
Why am I doing what I am doing is an important question. Why? For whom? To achieve what? He forced us to look at that question, to go beyond mere acknowledgment of the question. We had to dig deep and then we realized that most often we were doing things based on a perceived notion of fitting into society. Not for us, not for him, but for a society that had little time to understand but enough time to judge.
He taught us that asking why matters, asking the right why matters. And then, we looked at him and realized, what else are you going to teach us? Now, we had to break the paradigms. Are we open to learning from him as much as he learns from us? Can we grow together or is this a one way traffic?
Letting go of control is also about acceptance. Acceptance that each person has a perspective, a way of doing things, an awareness of things. Acceptance that difference is the normal, being the same is not the normal. The differences give us the opportunity to explore different perspectives, and when we explore, we grow into a better understanding. The differences allow us to evolve.
It is not an easy habit to break. Years of conditioning. The need to manage situations. To feel in control. It takes time and effort to do it. We are blessed to have a child who forces us to do it, to look for why we really do things and to make better choices. He has taught us that letting go allows us to focus on the core rather than on the external noise. You watch him and you realize that life is for the moment, can be for the moment, has to be for the moment. Of course, we have our moments of self doubt but then we look at him and we are back in the moment. We do not need to control anything. No expectations. Just flow with the moment. Accept the moment.
The question every adult has to ask themself is ” Are you open to learning from and with children?” When you are open to shedding your paradigms, your attachment to your learning or experiences, to accept their experiences as being equally important and valid, a whole new world opens up right where the old world was. Nothing may seem to change, but everything changes.
Children hold a mirror to yourself, your beliefs.