What does it mean to raise conscious children?
To begin, let’s contemplate the concept of evolution in consciousness. My sister, Michel, and I came up with the name for our business and title of our Instructional Guide Series, Raising Conscious Children, because we believe that we, as humans, are evolving in consciousness, individually and collectively as a human race. But what does that mean?
The notion of evolving in consciousness can have very different meanings, depending on any one individual’s perspective. For me, it is both a very complex and broad topic and yet simple at its core. At its core, evolving in consciousness means that nothing is ever static. Everything is on a perpetual path of growth and expansion, change and evolution. I am. You are. The planet is. All life is continually growing and expanding. That’s the simplicity of it.
In my opinion, however, expanding in consciousness also includes integration of trauma, finding wholeness within myself, and becoming a better and better version of ME through the process. Living consciously means being the best version of myself that I can be in any given moment, in every given moment, to the best of my ability. Living this way requires skills and PRACTICE; daily, and lots of it! Living consciously means understanding and living in coherence with the laws of the universe. Ah, the complexity of the above statements is endless. And that’s not all evolving in consciousness means to me. It’s more. Much, much, more.
So…where to begin? Well, I happen to believe that expanding and growing is a positive process, leading me to greater and greater versions, better versions of myself. Even if sometimes the growing pains hurt!
The idea that the world is an ever-expanding, benevolent, and beautiful place to live is not a popular one these days, with a worldwide pandemic and all. Yet, despite what is going on in our world today, I still subscribe to this belief. And I know I’m not the only one.
In my opinion, one component to raising conscious children is helping children view the world primarily through this lens: to see the world as a benevolent and beautiful place to live where their dreams can come true, where they can be happy and feel good the majority of the time, and most importantly, to understand the purpose of times when they don’t feel good. This brings me to my favorite universal law: polarity. (Did you detect the hint of sarcasm? If not, keep reading; you’ll see what I mean).
Napoleon Hill, author of the classic Think and Grow Rich, wrote, “Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.”
In simple terms, the universal law of polarity can be summed up with a question most of us have heard before, “How can you know the light without the dark?” One of my favorite teachers calls
“the dark”, “contrast.” Or, more recently, “variety,” which I like much better.
The notion here is that the only, and I mean ONLY, reason for having experiences we DON’T like is for us to determine what we DO like. That’s it. Simple, yet complex again, right? Let me give you an elementary example. You walk in Baskin Robins, and there are 32 flavors. You feel adventurous, so you try the Pink Bubble Gum flavor. After all, you chewed that stuff when you were little, right? Didn’t we all (Hubba Bubba)? Immediately, you realize you don’t like it. It’s WAY too sweet. As a matter of fact, you decide you will never, ever, eat Pink Bubble Gum ice cream ever again. Problem solved. Right then and there, you order something else. You had an experience of something you did not like and got clarity. And then you moved towards something you do like, good old chocolate ice cream.
Now, which kind of person are you? In our imaginary scenario, after you left Baskin Robbins, did you complain about the Pink Bubble Gum ice cream all the way home? Did you call a friend and pontificate about it? Were you compelled to post on social media how awful the Pink Bubble Gum ice cream is? Did you write Baskin Robbins a bad review on Yelp? Were you still thinking about it the next day?
Did you bask in the deliciousness of the chocolate ice cream? Did you appreciate the consistency of good old chocolate – time-tested, scrumptious, reliable chocolate ice cream? Did you thank Baskin Robbins for not getting rid of the flavor some may find boring or uninspired? Maybe chocolate ice cream never tasted so good!… now that you had something awful to compare it to. Perhaps you’ll never take chocolate ice cream for granted.
Get the picture?
Teaching children to view contrast in this way, starting with small things, can help them develop a learning orientation towards life. It can help them see problems as opportunities. We know that life will, without a doubt, offer them plenty of experiences they don’t like, starting pretty much from the time they are born. That’s how life is. It’s designed that way. How can you know the light without the dark?
What if we modeled and taught children to view contrast as variety, like the 32 flavors? We could explain that life is like an ice cream store with lots of things to choose from (or a box of chocolates if you’re a Forest Gump fan). If they choose something they don’t like, or even if life chooses it for them, they could learn from the experience. They could feel their feelings about it for a time (preferably a short time) and see it for what it is: the variety life has to offer.
We could guide them to identify what they prefer, based on whatever happened that they did not like. Someone was mean to them at recess. They prefer people to be nice. They were mean. They prefer to be nice. (After all, meanness feels terrible no matter which way you slice it.) We could teach them to move in the direction of what they want, what they like, experiences that feel good. And show them how NOT to dwell on what they don’t like (no social media posts about the Pink Bubble Gum ice cream, got it?)
Wouldn’t it be nice if, even when something “bad” happens, something hurtful, they could step back and view it as life showing them variety? Variety as a way for them to identify their preferences and move in the direction of what they prefer. By the way, it would definitely help to give lots of real-life examples of your own for how contrast led you to find your preferences.
The sarcasm I referred to earlier came in because, let’s face it; it’s not easy to view traumatizing events as variety. It’s not always easy to see the “gift in the garbage,” as my one friend calls it. Even for us “evolved” people. I can authentically say, however, that one of my original traumatic experiences as a child (me growing up as the “bad” child and my sister the “good” one) has been a core ingredient in my life’s work. I would not be who I am today if it had not happened, and my Naughty Nicole book series would not exist. It may have taken fifty years, but I genuinely see the experience as a blessing. Let’s not make our children wait until they are fifty. Let’s start teaching them when they are young this one component of living consciously: the world is a kind and beautiful place and life is like an ice cream store with many, many, more than 32 flavors. Help them see the contrast for what it is meant to teach them. Who’s with me?
Remember, “Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.”