I was watching a movie called Lion, starring Nicole Kidman. Nicole’s character was speaking to her adopted son about a vision she once had, long ago when she was a teenager; that she would be adopting a child to fulfill her destiny. She felt this so strongly, that she knew with all her conviction that this was divinely ordained.
In that moment, as Nicole was speaking, I too had a vision. I saw bundles of babies descending from the sky in a Star Wars kind of world. There were pod-like tents, each one a family, receiving their destined children. Every family a group of souls from far and wide, a group of unique and diverse human beings, divinely ordained to care, nurture and facilitate these children to grow into what she or he was meant to grow into; to actualize their true purpose, to manifest their hidden self.
So these families, in my vision, had no ropes tying them into a unit. They were free souls, together, to just support and love unconditionally. A unit that is unconditionally loyal, and its purpose is to let the child be accepted and loved as they grow into someone you have never seen or met before.
In this world where everyone looked the same, family was the place you could be sure to be yourself and feel supported, no matter what; a place made up of people you find home in, irrespective of what dark hole you may be in. To feel confident they’ve got your back as you find your feet and find yourself. While others may reject you, your family is where you can turn to feel the unconditional love that is the emanation of Rahman; God of unrestricted compassion. Family hence is a womb of overflowing nourishment so this human seed can grow into a tall fruiting tree.
Khalil Gibran says the following:
“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”
But how true is this in the real world? Many times when I faced issues in my family, and I turned to the Ahlul Bayt for inspiration, as a child not willing to stay within the lines, I questioned if they could be an inspiration for me. Why? Because the family of the Prophet included the best of human beings. A father who is mercy to mankind, a son-in-law and husband, an unprecedented gentleman like Ali, Fatimah, the leader of women in Jannah, and children who are the leaders of the youth in heaven. How can they inspire me? Did they even have any disagreements? Or discord? Or bad mouthing for example, perhaps temper issues?
While all questions always remain unanswered in truth, because knowledge reveals itself in layers of unveilings and answers are infinite, I did find a new answer this morning… and that is; every member in the Holy Family made sure they looked at themselves for improvement; not the other. That’s it. Eventually, we all have to work on ourselves.
“He who blames others has a long way to go on his journey. He who blames himself is halfway there. He who blames no one has arrived”Chinese proverb
So what is it that we as parents need to do for our children? Being a mother to a 14-year-old, 11-year -old and a 4-year-old as of now, I know one thing I want to teach my children and that is to be believers. Right! Sounds cliche… No not a believer by force in any religion or dogma but a believer in the light they hold within themselves. The light of their Source that has always got their back.
I want them to be believers in the impossible. I want them to be believers in the God that can part oceans for them, send fruits from heaven for them, take them out of the mouth of a whale, order pigeons and spiders to protect them. Yes, I want them to be believers in unimaginable magic. I want them to look at fear in the eye and believe they are greater than it. I want them to know that all that they ever need is right here within them. The light they hold within.
I cannot change the world for them, the waves in the ocean can’t be stopped, but we can surely learn to surf them with grace and faith.
“So when Moses sensed fear within himself,Quran 20:67-68
We reassured him,
“Do not fear indeed it is you who are superior”
How do we do this? Well, we can teach our children this by leading by example. Let us not shy away from the troubles in life but face them. Let us not run away from the heavy emotions we hold but embrace them. Let us be okay with not having all the answers, let us show what being broken looks like, and then let us also model being brave in the face of all that hurts us and makes us uncomfortable. Let us model having faith in the face of taking risks when necessary, and show that we are human, flawed, and imperfect, yet our power lies with Him.
When we go on our own journey, constantly falling and standing up, we also allow them how to embark on theirs. When we become humble to our shortfalls, we give them the permission to be their messy selves too; that they too can look within and see their flawed selves with honesty, so that they too can start working towards perfecting themselves. We cannot change, what we do not accept needs change. And once we can accept it with an inner grounding, we can move towards changing it.
“Children have never been really good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them”James Baldwin
There is a very famous Hadith on child upbringing that I have tried to understand and practice since the time I first knew I was going to be a mother. Yet it took me more than a decade to maybe understand it.
The Hadith says:
“The child is a king for seven years; and a slave for seven years and a vizier for seven years; so if he grows into a good character within 21 years, well and good; otherwise leave him alone because you have discharged your responsibility before Allah.”
Dr. Bruce Lipton has also said something very similar. Dr. Bruce Lipton explains what theta is, something, that before I watched his interview, I couldn’t articulate. “Essentially, theta is a lower vibrational frequency than your “conscious” from a brain activity perspective. It is a beautiful thing, and it runs your world from 0 to 7 years of age”, Lipton explains. “Theta is the catalyst for childhood imagination and sculpting the “subconscious”, which is perceived reality from age 0-7. Imagination and the real-world are one and the same for youngsters. The first seven years are foundational to your goals and perceived limitations.”
Jesuits ( Pope Francis is a Jesuit) believe “give me a child until it is seven and I will show you the man…” Essentially, their belief is the same as Dr. Lipton’s: The first seven years are critical to who we become for the rest of our life. “
Hence when we look at a child who is a believer in the impossible, such a child needs to feel and grow up like a king. For a king, everything is within reach, everything is possible. Being a king is to be an empowered human being who has his/her power grounded in the God of the impossible.
Let us not stifle our children with talks of limitations and fears that we have carried within us. Let us allow them to have the space to make mistakes, mess up, try new things and explore new arenas. Remember, they need to become someone you have never known or heard of before so don’t try to mold them. They are free souls, allow them to fly beyond our mental limitations. They are unique and only one just like God is unique and one. Let their Godliness bloom. And therefore, you must have realised by now that this article is not so much about how to edit our kids but more about embarking on a self-editing journey ourselves.
“Do not force your children to behave like you, for surely they have been created for a time which is different to your time.”Hazrat Ali (A.S)