A friend has invited me to help her write an article for a local publication. The theme is nurturing your children’s spiritual life. We talked last night about choosing three points to make that would be most valuable in the lives of our kids. The first thing that popped into my head is the importance of intuition and listening to yourself.
I have a terrible, terrible memory so it may be that I just don’t remember BUT I don’t think I was ever told to listen to myself and the feelings that rise from within me. I knew to listen to my teachers, my parents, other adults in my life, and even my friends. It never occurred to me to listen to ME. In fact, I’d say I was often even afraid to listen to myself. When I knew the answers to questions in class I was terrified to raise my hand and respond for fear I’d be wrong and look stupid. I remember times when I went with the pack and joined in on not so nice behavior b/c following others was easier than not. I’m sure there was a little voice or a tug at my heart reminding me to do no harm, but I ignored that voice until the deed was done. Then I had to deal with the consequences of either getting in trouble, losing a friend, or feeling guilty.
I believe that teaching our children to stay connected and listen to the voice within is vital to their emotional health. I caught a few seconds of an Oprah episode yesterday. It was long enough to hear Oprah speak to this idea. The show topic must have been sexual abuse. She said that our kids need to pay attention to those “this doesn’t seem right” feelings and speak up when they have them. Too many kids stay silent when they are being hurt because somewhere along the line they’ve learned that they should listen to everyone else but themselves. We are wired with this protective instinct for a reason. We know when something isn’t right. Instead of listening to the outside pressure, whether from peers or “trusted” adults, our kids ought to be encouraged to listen to the quiet inner voice or feeling that is saying no, no, no.
So if I had any parenting advice for myself and others I would say to teach our children that they have an inner compass and how best to use it.