Thursday, December 18, 2008

Book Review: "Do You Know Who Your Children Are?"

As many of you know, I work as an editor of books by self-publishing authors. I've edited dozens over the last year, and some have stayed with me as benchmarks on my spiritual journey. Strangely, often the book I was editing mirrored my actual life in an uncanny way—like a book on childrearing when I was having trouble as a mom, or a book on relationships when I was feeling the fear of connecting. There have been dieting books, historical books, scientific books, inspirational books. It's been such a privilege to see the world through these authors' eyes. Now, many of these books have gone to press, and I'd like to share them with you.

Michelle Starkey's Do You Know Who Your Children Are? came to me at a time when I was wrestling with the point of parenting. Why pour so much into these separate beings who will be flying the coop anyway after eighteen to twenty years? Michelle's book answered that question for me, in a gentle and insightful way.

Michelle explores the different roles children have in our lives: teacher, healer, guide, messenger, spiritual companion, sage and friend. For each of these roles, she gives solid wisdom on how to discern these qualities in our children and accept the gift we've been given.

Here are some excerpts of sections that meant a lot to me:

A major duty that children today seem to be burdened with is helping parents face their not-so-perfect childhoods. There are many painful instances that are brought to the surface when children enter our lives. We may be reminded of the time we got a spanking for breaking the vase, or the time we couldn't go to a friend's party because of our poor report card. On a more painful level, past issues of abuse or neglect may be brought forth. Repressed memories of extremely painful events may begin to be uncovered. Being with a child helps us to relive our own childhoods however joyful or painful we perceive them to have been.

The good news is that both the pain and the joy are gifts. It is never too late to have a happy childhood, as the cliché goes. If we were never able to have a pet, we may get a dog. If we never went to the park, we can now go. It is easier to do these things when we have a child with us, but we can also do them alone—whatever it takes to empower. There are no victims. There are no dysfunctional families. Families function at whatever level their consciousness allows. What may seem not to function for one group of people actually works quite well for another. It is not until those actions are discussed and judged by other humans that they become wrong. Each person came here to experience whatever it is he is experiencing at the moment. There is no right nor wrong, no function nor dysfunction.

I love the idea that no family is dysfunctional. It's such a freeing outlook, letting us all just be, rather than making us try to be something we're not. Every family has issues, and things to work out. But none are dysfunctional. I love knowing that, especially now, during the holidays.

This is a fun analogy, for those of us who believe in mind over matter:

The mind is like a puppy. When you first bring the puppy home it's all over the place. It runs around the house, goes into every forbidden area, chewing things, having accidents and basically destroying everything in its path like a mini tornado. After a while, the puppy grows into a dog and the dog can be trained to refrain from certain activities, control its physical urges and impulses and usually becomes quite manageable. The untrained mind can be as destructive as the untrained dog. The thoughts running rampant through your mind can destroy your inner peace much as a puppy can wreck your home.

And one final thought, which gave me pause:

The past is not a place to dwell. It's okay to visit for reference, but if we live there, we are bound to recreate it.

Do You Know Who Your Children Are? is a great read, full of fun insight and comfort for those of us who sometimes think we're doing it all wrong. It would be a great present for new parents as well—let's reassure them right out of the gate, shall we? While we can all do better at it, ultimately we're bringing the best we have to the job of parenting—and that is enough.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or submit a question.
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At 12/22/2008 01:44:00 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Wow...this is a great recommendation...I love the first explains so much of what we experience and give us a perspective from which we can navigate the journey with more joy and wisdom...thanks sweetie...another great post to cross-link you bunches and bunches...I hope you, Carol, Chris and all "whom your thoughts rest upon" are filled with Christmas peace...every day...every moment...throughout!! Kate


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