Letting Go of Judgments While Parenting

When my guides lead me in Kindness

I follow, follow lightly,

And there are no footprints

in the dust behind us.

From The Telling, Ursula K. Le Guin

I love this quote. It expresses how I feel about turning over my physical life journey to the Holy Spirit (God’s voice in this physical world) to lead me in kindness; trusting that as I follow lightly I will not leave any permanent foot prints in this dream to make it real. There is a lot to learn in this spiritual classroom called parenting, especially parenting a child which the world sees as defective. How many of us get stuck in the past, grieving over wrongs, blaming our unhappiness on our parents, our children, other people, our past failures, and our failed opportunities? How many times have we feared what the future may bring for our labeled children when the past has been such a struggle? How many times have we drowned out that still small voice within, our inner guide, our higher self with thoughts of why me when our labeled child demands so much attention or when we are consumed with just getting through the day?

It was while I was researching information about alternative programs for different disabilities for my book on welcoming children with special needs into faith communities, that I discovered the Option Institute in western Massachusetts. Not only did I learn about a wonderful program for children within the autism spectrum, I found a place for my own spiritual growth. The program for children is called the Son-Rise Program of the Autism Treatment Center of America. The description on the website captured my attention and I immediately wanted to visit. “This unique treatment program, based on an attitude of love and acceptance, is profoundly gentle, non-judgmental and respectful of the child’s world and creates maximum opportunity for growth.” (www.option.org ) I highly recommend it for Course students who are looking for another way to parent their child within the autism spectrum or with any type of label.

In order to visit the Son-Rise Program I took a week long workshop at the Option Institute which then led to attending their eight week summer course at the time called “Living the Dream.” This was a life changing experience which to this day continues to provide the ideas and tools I use to question any upsetting event in order to discover the beliefs that take me out of joy. For eight weeks I deconstructed my ego. I bounced between fear and love. The fear showed itself primarily as anger, shame, defensiveness, and sadness. Much of my work focused on my sadness about Tyler’s struggles. This is where I learned the gift of a question. My interpretation of the basic teachings of the Option Institute has provided an enduring structure for understanding the lessons in my spiritual classroom. The Option teachings are compatible with Course teachings. A few examples are: there is no right, wrong, good or bad; every event is neutral; it is only our beliefs which trigger a response to the event; and we always have a choice to be happy or unhappy.

There was a period in my life when every time I talked about my son, Tyler, I would cry. He is a right brained kid in a left brained world. Tyler is a different learner, struggles to read, and processes information differently than what society considers as “normal.” I got so caught up in his story, worrying about what to do and worrying about his future that I forgot to stay in presence. The ego had completely taken over my journey.

By using the Option dialogue process, it took a lot of examination of my beliefs to realize I had a core belief that I could not change people’s treatment of Tyler and other children we label unless they saw the sadness and the heartbreak. I finally realized this was not what I wanted to show the world. I wanted people to know the joy, the wonder, and the miracle that is Tyler and all our labeled children, not the sadness and the struggle. Once I understood the underlying belief which was keeping me in sadness, I was finally able to drop it as not useful. When I can let go of the past as having any power to affect me, I can accept life as it is and see every event as a way to deepen my love. I can embrace this incredible opportunity to forgive, to learn to trust, to love fully and completely without judgment, to see all adults and children as innocent and perfect in God’s eyes.

Eventually through questioning my beliefs I arrived at a place of calm that stayed even when Tyler slid into deep depression and started cutting at age 17. I had finally learned and was able to accept totally and completely not to take on my son’s pain. If we take on our children’s pain or struggle then what you have are two miserable people instead of one. We are saying to our children that their pain is more important than the truth of who they are which is love. The best gift I could give my son at the time was to parent from a place of peace with an unshakable faith and trust that he would get through this with his spiritual self intact, no matter the outcome. I was able to maintain this calm even when he cut the words “help me” into his arm. And he did get through it and regained his radiance.

Recently a friend of Tyler’s died from a combination of alcohol and drugs in Laos, Asia far from his home. Jack was a high energy child always testing boundaries, a different learner, warm hearted, highly creative, curious, and a risk taker. Jack also struggled with depression. Over Jack’s short life I admired the love, flexibility and humor maintained by Jack’s parents in relation to their son. By the time Jack died at age 21 he had visited more that 40 countries on five continents. His love for excitement and his battle with depression led him to risky behavior and his death. There are some people who would question Jack’s parents for allowing him to follow his dream of exploration at such a young age, especially given his tendency toward risky behavior. It takes tremendous courage to trust and allow your child to follow their own path. On the level of form in this physical world his death feels sad and hard. On the level of content in spirit, we know that Jack’s life is part of the whole process toward forgiveness of this illusory world. We can not begin to understand the forgiveness lessons for Jack and his family. We can only trust that each and every one of us is part of the whole. We can only trust the Holy Spirit’s plan for all of us.

Every moment is a perfect time to let go of the past, renew and parent from the stately calm within. I wish for everyone the will to connect with our guides, the Holy Spirit, our higher self to stay the course. Standing in your truth and allowing others to stand in theirs is important. Like Tyler and Jack, our children have their own path to truth; we can not presume to know what it is. All we can do is support and create an environment that allows the discovery of their truth. Not judging our children’s path comes from not judging ourselves. This, above all else, feels the most difficult, not judging someone else’s path, especially when it feels harmful or alien to our beliefs. “Learning to walk lightly” means letting go of judgments. When we let go of judgments we leave no foot prints in this dream. We do not make the mistake of separation real. Trust means letting go of our ego and releasing to a higher purpose we can not begin to comprehend. Trusting our children will find and stand in truth at times takes immense courage, especially as with Jack it led to death at a young age. Trust and letting go of judgments and forgiving is what allows God’s love to flow through us. In the end, this is the only way to get through the bad times to joy and inner peace. And we must be willing to do it over and over again.

Categories Spiritual Parenting and Children | Tags: | Posted on June 10, 2009

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