Teach Your Children Well: Model Behavior

This is a short foray into parenting before I try and tie it back up with health and healing. The dilemma of how to teach your children always weighs heavily on my mind.

My four year old son Reggie has come up with an interesting version of L-shaped Handstand. I’m not sure where he got the idea but my first instinct was to tell him to stop, “That’s not the way it is done.” But I restrained myself. I even tried it later in the day and offered it as a variation in class.

It is so easy to try and tell my kids what to do all of the time but my wife and I make a conscious effort to hold back and let them find their own way.

When my kids were born we made a choice to not teach them or tell them to do certain things. In particular we emphasized letting them find their own way to the niceties of please and thank you. This can bring up some intense moments. Not only would someone who gave my kids a gift expect a thank you, but if they didn’t get it from my kids they expected me to prod my kids to offer it up. And while I admit to enjoying these moments on a certain level, they could be awkward.

It wasn’t easy to resist telling them, and in truth I didn’t always, but over time the words started coming out of both of my kids unbidden. The idea from our perspective was that by letting them find their own way to this kind of polite behavior was empowering as the decision to be polite came from them rather than from our prodding.

I believe in being polite but I also believe in allowing my kids to be their own people, to help them foster an independence of thought and action that will hopefully serve them later in life.

My work in helping people to find their way out of pain is somewhat similar to this idea of empowering my kids. It has been my experience that many people in pain are searching for the magic blue pill that will fix them –but I don’t believe that it exists. We need to be the agents of our own lives and healing, taking responsibility for ourselves.

While I am a guide, and a pretty good one, no one can truly be healthy without taking matters into their own hands on the road to wellness. It doesn’t mean we don’t need doctors, chiropractors, rolfers and the like—we do—but we need to partner with them if we have any hopes of their work being effective.