Parenting and role playing

Here you may share how the words Eckhart Tolle have affected your life.

Parenting and role playing

Postby Jbrooke » Sun May 20, 2012 6:48 am

I was rereading A New Earth this evening. The first time I read it was about a year or so ago and things since then have changed a great deal. I am now the mother of an 11 month old daughter. So, when I reread the chapter on Role Playing in regards to parenthood, I took a special interest this time around.

Tolle writes,
"Many adults play roles when they speak to young children. They use silly words and sounds. They talk down to the child. They don't treat the child as an equal. The fact that you temporarily know more or that you are bigger does not mean the child is not your equal."

I understand what he says about the fact that parents often don't perceive the child as being an equal, but what actually confused me was the statement, "They use silly words and sounds." What does he mean exactly by this?

My husband and I have spoken to my infant with silly words and sounds since she was born. We make up songs and rhymes and sayings with silly lyrics and sounds and sing them to her. We play games together and I wiggle and jiggle her around and we do silly dances together and play peek a boo. We take pleasure in making silly sounds and facial expressions and watch as she tries to imitate us and vice versa (the list goes on and on). And she takes pleasure in this also.

Is Tolle suggesting that this is a negative thing? That talking to our babies with silly sounds and using silly words and so on indicates that we aren't treating them as equal living beings?

The answer might be incredibly obvious and my posting of this might seem really ridiculous, I imagine! But, I was just too curious to not ask.
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Re: Parenting and role playing

Postby karmarider » Sun May 20, 2012 9:07 am

I don't think Tolle is giving parenting advice. And if he is, he is completely wrong.

Perhaps he's pointing the various roles that we play by analogy and pointing out that adults should not look down on children.

If he's saying we shouldn't goo-goo gaa-gaa to our babies, he's very wrong. That's a delightful experience which serves an important purpose in children's development.
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Re: Parenting and role playing

Postby smiileyjen101 » Mon May 21, 2012 1:20 am

I like his notion of treating children with respect as your equal.
That doesn't mean you can't have fun with your children - if you are also your child's equal - playing in the mudpit can be a hoot!!

Some people forget that children are human beings, and some kind of come down at them from a superiority or control, rather than nurturing appropriate for their age. They might forget their own manners while insisting the children use manners, they might lie to children while insisting a child should be truthful. They might tell a child to keep their hands to themself and then hit the child as a punishment for some wrong doing.

This all only confuses a child - it's a do as I say, not as I do and the greatest teacher to a child is by example, not by instruction.

On the baby talk, that's fine for babies, but doing it to a toddler maybe not so much - example that I witnessed - a grandmother 'babying' a 2 year old
- "xyz want some brekkie now?"
toddler (concerned): 'Nana, can't you say breakfast properly yet?'

Neighbour to same toddler: 'xyz go pick those toys up'
toddler smiling cos neighbour's obviously forgetful: 'what's the magic word neighbour?'
(neighbour peeved - mum teaches toddler 'tact')
next time toddler playing with friend at neighbour's house
neighbour: 'xyz go pick those toys up'
toddler does it, comes back with a big smile 'there you go neighbour, I knew you were going to say thank you when I was finished.
neighbour (still slightly peeved): thank you xyz
toddler huge smile: you're welcome neighbour


This is the same neighbour that will insist the children use their manners when asking for something to eat or a drink of water - the 'magic word' line was hers, the child was just copying the example of what happens if the children 'forget' to use their manners.

Children are sponges, we need to to be aware of that. The parent who insists on no swearing who then swears at other drivers in the traffic ... this is likely more the 'role playing' ET is referring to, not the dress ups and fun stuff at the child's level.
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Re: Parenting and role playing

Postby Jbrooke » Mon May 21, 2012 5:42 pm

All this makes a lot of sense. I think I just misinterpreted what Tolle was saying and got confused. Thank you both for clearing that up. I have a lot of insecurities as a first time mom and feel pretty vulnerable to what I read when it comes to raising children. Working on that, though;)

You know, I often wonder if Tolle has children himself? It doesn't sound like it from what I read- but I do often question whether or not he is married with kids. Interesting...
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Re: Parenting and role playing

Postby smiileyjen101 » Mon May 21, 2012 10:52 pm

Jen I've thought about this topic a lot, my own daughter has just become a mum herself and it is so beautiful watching her with her daughter- the fears, the joy, the breathtaking just watching them watching the child she and her husband have been blessed with. As a mum who now has less of the 'motherly' concerns to deal with I've noticed they too are adjusting to their 'roles' as mum and dad, as their child grows what will they share of themselves?

The 'roles' of mum and dad can either be who you really are - the full force of the human condition, the love, the fear, the joy, the disappointments, the laughter, the tears, the unsure and the capable, the curious and the wise, or the 'role' that you think you must now play as a mum - whatever you adopt that to be.
Your child can also either be all of the things above and been seen and accepted as such as they find their way in this world, grow into their life and experiences, or they can be molded into whatever it is others think they 'should' be in their role as 'your child'.

I think this is a really important distinction to make in terms of 'roles' in parenting. Will you share the child in you with your child, will you share your child's adventure of growing and grow with them, or will you confine and mold yourself and your child into some sense of expectation of how it 'should' be?

Some of my greatest memories of my children's childhood have been the adventures of being all we really are. Funnily, they are my children's greatest memories of their childhood too.

The 'lets go on an adventure' days - that the girls would mock groan at and pretend they were the adult and me the child .. 'oh god, where's she gonna take us today, what is she gonna get us into?' Adventure days go like this, you pack a picnic and weather appropriate clothes (eg swimming gear if its summer) you jump in the car or hop on the next bus that comes along and take turns in 'giving directions' - it might be 'second street turn right'... 'third street turn left'... pretty soon you're out of your known area and really living the adventure. It's landed us swimming in a hotel pool at the top of an island across the bay that is way south of our home, a two hour journey that a train ride, a bus ride, a ferry ride, another bus ride - we stop when our tummies say 'eat'. We pretend we've run away from home for the day, we live on our wits and we see our surroundings like tourists - we also see things we've passed on so many occasions that we've never 'seen' before.

I would cry at Disney movies and they'd hand me the tissues and learn that it's okay to cry, I'd scream like an idiot on funfair rides and swing on swings and slide on slides at the park with them and they'd learn it's okay to have fun and be noisy. I'd take a road without knowing where it went 'wonder where this goes?' and they learned to be curious and adventurous. Going to the movies, or the park, or the beach can be a 'be yourself' experience - what is it to 'be' a mum anyway?

If my girls wanted to know something that I didn't know I would be honest, I'd check with them whether they wanted the two minute version, a chat about the possibilities of it, or if they were really serious, if we were off to the library to find out.

Is it a 'role' of a mum not to cry, to know everything and to provide a sense of security by always staying where they felt comfortable knowing their surroundings? I don't think so, I chose instead to be honest about my vulnerabilities and ignorances and show them how to navigate those parts of life. Is it a mum's role to always be right, to hold themself up as an expert, I don't think so, I used to lay on a bed with the girls and 'explore' their thoughts and feelings and ideas about things and I learned sooooo much from them. The trick with that one was that the bed chats had rules - no one was 'boss' of the conversation, it could go anywhere like on our adventure days, what was said (particularly in the teenage years) could never be held against you once you were off the bed :? no one was 'right' we just shared our ideas, our deepest thoughts, our dreams, our fears, our aspirations and our disappointments. When you're laying down its all so much more relaxed and focussed - you also can't be angry when you're laying down next to someone, so especially the youngest would call for a bed chat when she had an admission to make.

These things allow you to be a human being with your child, and for your child to be a human being with you. I'm not saying don't 'parent' where/when necessary, but it's not 'necessary' to take on that role all the time. Let your child know you - really know you as a human being, not just as 'mum', see your children as beautiful, amazing human beings, not just 'your child'.

I didn't realise my girls could distinguish between the 'mother role' and 'me', but they did/do. One day my now adult eldest was trying to convey to a mum over the phone to take control of a difficult emergency situation where her daughter was panicking and making things worse, she spoke to the mum, then spoke to the child, then to the mum again and the child had lapsed back into panic- understandably, she was seriously injured in an accident with a plate glass door and bleeding profusely, when the mum yelled 'she won't let me near her to help' my daughter firmly and loudly said "Well then, you NEED to pull the mother card' and the mum went into the 'role' of 'mother' and took control of the situation. My daughter's colleagues in an emergency centre were all laughing at the 'not in the script instruction' and it became a 'thing' with them.. well then, you NEED to pull the mother card!'

The thing is, some folks don't realise they don't need to play that card all the time.

Be human, be real, and let your child be human and real too. Recognise when you need to 'play the role', but don't 'become the role'. You are the best gift your child will ever have.

Give yourself to your child, fully, freely and with love.

They will thank you for it, for you will be showing them how to be a human being.
Our rights start deep within our humanity; they end where another's begin~~ SmileyJen
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Re: Parenting and role playing

Postby Jbrooke » Tue May 22, 2012 3:45 am

VERY insightful! Thank you for this. It makes a great deal of sense to me! I know that we teach our children by example. They learn from us through observation and sensation. It can be a beautiful thing...
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Re: Parenting and role playing

Postby Golf » Wed May 23, 2012 9:59 am

I was in a visit to friends who have small children a few days ago. Previously, I would feel like not knowing what to do around kids, maybe even a bit embarassed, frozen, I mean it was just silly!
But this time it was such a nice experience. I was just there, smiling at them, not thinking what to do, just being and letting them be, and they were showing me their toys, and I played silly games with them, and smiled, and they smiled at me :D

And then one of them would start to cry, and immediately there were parents all around, "why do you cry", "oh it's nothing", "who took your toy"...
And I thought like, why making all this fuss, why not just letting him cry, so what, he cries and you just hold him gently and let him cry, and smile at him...
As if showing certain emotions like sadness was wrong or something.
Or the child being sad because the other one took the toy, and the parents "disciplining" and "fixing" the situation. Basically they are saying, "you are unhappy without the toy and yes to be happy again we must give you the toy back", and so "my toy" becomes "my happiness" and I'm all miserable without it.
While all the time there are other toys around, and he can be happy even witohut them too :D

So these are my first "parenting" experiences, just wanted to mention them...
"If you're so smart, how come you're working at a gas station?"
-"It's a service station. We offer service, there is no higher purpose."
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