Every child is looking for security. Every child wants the security of the mother's presence and the father's authority. Where the parents are without enough authority, the children are insecure.
The more the parents rid themselves of insecurity, the more equilibrium there will be in the household. The parents are the child's security - as love, honesty and wisdom. But to introduce those qualities to the children the parents must have the authority to deal with them justly.
Children do not find security in being given freedom. No child can be free. Security for children necessarily means that their behaviour must be limited. But the limits have to be imposed with honesty and justice.
This book is about raising children in love, truth and justice. Justice is essential. When a parent tells a child what to do, the parent must play by the same rules.
If it's good enough for me to ask of you, then you have to be able to ask it of me. That's fair. That's justice.
Teaching our children justice is very rare. Yet it is essential that they acquire a sense of justice to set against the double standards of the world. It has to be
done by parental demonstration; and done from the earliest age. Children who know their parents' justice when they are young will need less demonstration
of it when they are older.
Justice means that everyone in the household has to be informed from the beginning what the rules are. The rules are determined both by life itself and by
the authority in the house.
So I might call everyone together and say, for instance: 'This is a house in which
we all contribute to the love which is the harmony of the home, so that we can all live together without unhappiness. I am contributing my love right now by telling you the truth of life, which is that everyone has to make their contribution and
take their share of responsibility. I also contribute my money, which as a child
you can't do. We all have to pay our way. You live with us because you are not
old enough yet to live on your own. As you don't earn your own money, there is only one means for you to pay your way - with love. How do you pay in love? -
by not getting emotional without a reason. If you are emotional you have to be
able to tell me what you're emotional about. If it's because you want something
that I say you can't have, I'll tell you why you can't have it. If you don't accept
what I say then you are not loving. Any time that I'm not contributing, or your mother's not, then you are free to point it out, as long as it is a right response.
In the same way we will point out when you are not contributing.
Justice means being true to the situation and not to what you like or don't like.
The situation of the parent is: I have a little one in front of me, for whom I am responsible. What is best for the situation is what is best for the child, not what
I would or would not like for myself.
What I ask of you as parents and individuals is to give up your personal considerations. Give up the 'person' as much as possible. By listening for the
truth in what I say you are becoming more impersonal. Every time you see the
truth in your own experience you glimpse the vastness of impersonal justice.
If you demonstrate this lack of self-consideration when you discipline or punish
your child, it will be evident that you are being just. The punishment should
always be explained so that the justice of it is clear and the child knows that
you are not acting out of your likes and dislikes but according to what you see
from "Raising Children" pp 71-3
Our job as parents and educators is to raise the consciousness of the children
and prepare them for life in the adult world. It begins the moment we hold the
baby in our arms and speak with love. It continues in every conversation as the child grows, and we impart our wisdom about the ways of the world; and in every moment that we reveal to the child the wonders of the earth and the universe.
To raise children in consciousness is to love them and walk with them and talk
about life. Show them the leaves of the trees. Dig into the earth and show them
the worms. Break open the apple and have a look at the pips. Show them the difference between an apple and an orange. Show them all these wonderful things and be involved as much as you can in their discoveries. Above all, speak with
them intelligently about their observations of life and listen attentively to what
It is essential that from an early age there should be open communication with children about what interests them. Much of the wilful, sullen and rebellious behaviour exhibited by youth arises because as young children they were not allowed to report on what they were seeing or experiencing. Their parents were
too busy to spend time with them.
Not listening to children creates a ground of emotion and resentment; a feeling
of contraction - of not being able to express myself. As everything within must
come out, the feeling of repression inevitably finds expression, sometimes in a violent or destructive form.
As in the youth, so in the adult. A man trying to love a woman, unable to express his love, is suddenly vicious and blurts out a stream of cruel words. Afterwards neither he nor she can comprehend it. 'Look, I'm terribly sorry. I didn't mean it.
I don't know what came over me.' This is a typical reaction conditioned by a blockage in the communication between parent and child.
Speaking with children is like speaking with anyone else in the truth. When you
are asked a question you reply from your own experience. You don't enter into
a discussion that leads away from the fact or engage in any argument that
requires the taking of positions. Don't try to change the child's mind, because
you're likely to run into opposition, argument and disturbance. Rely on pointing
out the fact and checking to see if it has changed. The guidelines are: Don't go beyond your own experience. Be as honest as you can. And always endeavour to answer the question.
Children come up with some wonderful observations and give you plenty of opportunity to answer straight questions. Let them ask you anything at all.
Take them into your confidence. And then when they get to the age of puberty
they will be more likely to come and ask you about sex and love. It's very rare
for parents to have that wonderful, honest and open communication with a teenager. But it arises from interacting rightly with them from the earliest days,
and from being able to respond to the child's everyday enquiries.
Remember that children are not 'just children'. Every child is an intelligence in a body with very little experience. The intelligence is infinitely old; in essence as
old as life itself. It is limited only by the experience of the child's body. When we address the child intelligently and speak with as little emotion as possible we open up an energetic contact with a vast knowledge. The response from that place will sometimes be surprisingly intelligent, even in an infant only one or two years old; and all parents will know how remarkable it can be. That is because life on earth
did not begin with my birthday; or your child's. It is at least three and a half billion years old. The knowledge and energy of that life is within every body; although whether it's accessible at any time is determined by something far more profound than any of us can ever utter or name.
The more we can introduce a child to the wonders of the natural world and existence, the more we open up a channel into the vast memory of life on earth -
the essential life of every child. That is why it is so important to continually
introduce children to the works of nature. And when they come up with their questions you will be able to go into your experience of life, your earth
experience, to answer them and tell them how things probably developed -
because everything develops out of the earth.
from Raising Children pp 235-7
While Simon lived with me I often took the chance to talk to him about
the difference between the inner life and the mental world. One day I
was working in the garden when he arrived home from school. He came over
and we started to
from Raising Children pp 240-1
The reason teenagers grow apart from their parents is that the parents don't tell
the children what they are doing with their lives. They haven't involved them
from the beginning in the family situation. So the children, as they grow up, don't involve the parents. When I was a teenager I never told my Mum and Dad
anything. And my father used to to say: 'Uh, uh . . . Here comes the Secret
Here is a letter I received recently. It's from a woman in Melbourne.
'Dear Mr Long, I've never written to anyone like this before and I don't know why I'm writing to you. I'm just desperate. I thought perhaps you could help me, but I understand if you can't. My son is twenty-five and he's living in Perth. He's been there for five years. He doesn't work and he lives in a shared house. My husband and I have tried to get him to communicate with us and he won't. I'm desperately worried for him. I love him but I don't know what I can do.'
There is pathos in the letter and the true love of a mother for a son. But how can the parents expect to communicate with their son if they didn't communicate when he was young? - if they didn't talk about love, God, life, truth and death; if they
only talked about money, or Grandma and Grandpa, or who's going to win the election? That's the tragedy of this terribly ignorant planet, as represented by the body of mankind. The communication is lost between mother and daughter, father and son because the parents don't talk to the children about what is really important.
What is more important than love? Yet in so many homes the subject is studiously avoided because of sexual dishonesty and embarrassment.
I was invited to talk about the truth of love and sex to a small group of teenagers
in a High School near where I live in Australia. They knew why I was coming to speak to them and they had their parents permission to be there. But they'd
never met anyone like me before. There were five girls and one boy, all aged sixteen or seventeen. A couple of the other boys had dropped out for fear of
what their friends would say.
I started to talk to them precisely as I talk at any teaching meeting or seminar
and I went at length into the difference between love and sex. They loved it.
'Why can't we talk to our parents like this?' asked one of the girls.
'Well, why can't you? It's a good question. The reason is that I treat you as man
and woman. I don't try to bullshit you. You are man and woman. You are as intelligent as your mother and your father. You're as intelligent as I am. The
only difference is in our experience of life. Although you lack experience, you
are intelligent man and woman but adults usually treat you as if you're not.'
I had asked them to stop me if anything I said was not true, or to confirm it if
it was the truth for them. So when I asked them: Am I telling you about love,
just as it is? Is what I'm saying right? Is it the truth?'the girls all nodded. The boy said 'Yeah' and grinned from ear to ear.
from Raising Children pp 114-16
|© The Barry Long Trust|