Reflecting on Christmas Presents

The page turns to a new year of parenting ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.  In my free book, I state that there are five principles of parenting that I put forth as a formula for life. They are:

Believe in God’s powerful alchemical love.
Believe you can be an instrument of that powerful love.
Use your free will to advance the power of love in all you do.
Balance your karma and try not to make more karma.
Focus on soul evolution as opposed to solely materialistic goals.
After the Christmas whirl is over, we reflect that perhaps we spent too much on presents, or didn’t give the “right” present, or were unable to help Santa as much as we would have wanted to.  And then we remember that the act of giving is the outreach of God’s love for us, that we gave our gifts to advance the cause of family love, and that those gifts are even in some small way perhaps atoning for past sins from other lifetimes.  So whether we spent too much or too little is not the point of it if we felt genuine love for the recipients of our gifts.  That love more than the object we gave is what was significant.

We were delighted in Tucson with the gift of snow a few days after Christmas and I prove my point with a montage of photographs from Tom attached below.  It didn’t last too long but reminded us once again that nature has a mind of its own and not to get too comfortable with the predictable.

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Snow in Tucson Photos by Tom Miller

 

Supporting Emotional Intelligence in Two-Year Olds

I have just completed a 14 week experience teaching two-year-olds in a Montessori-style classroom and interacting with their young parents.  “The terrible twos, how could you?” said my friends.  Today, I am very grateful for this concentrated glimpse into the world of these fourteen very individualistic two-year olds (and I didn’t find any of them “terrible”).

This age bracket is the beginning one for the development of emotional intelligence.  Many children are struggling with their emotions in a public setting (day care) for the first time and learning how to get through it all.   Already, I could see the previous social conditioning of their parents playing out in their personalities and orientations to other children.   I observed these children navigating for the first time with how to play in meaningful ways with others– copycatting was high on the list of observable play behaviors. If one child initiated a behavior, others would follow suit—usually these were with undesirable behaviors.  Some were transitioning from diapers to the toilet—those that had made it were in a different “older kid club”.  There was pride in this membership.  They were all learning how to be independent with opening lunch boxes, throwing away their left overs, cleaning their work areas, taking work off the shelves and returning it to the same location. Some days, all the children worked so diligently on their lessons with enthusiasm and joy.  Other days, they were more apt to throw themselves down on the rug, roll around and “space out”.   Sometimes they just got in trouble.  The head teacher called this “making a bad choice”.  This seemed to work.  I could see them categorizing these infractions in their consequent actions.  They certainly knew when another child made a “bad choice” and were happy to share that information. When they didn’t make good choices, they had to be carefully explained to as to why their choice wasn’t the best one.  Negotiations were often difficult.  There was occasional biting when “no” didn’t seem to cut through, there was hitting by those who didn’t go as far as biting, and there was a lot of touching, and not much hugging.  Crying was the easiest way to express their frustrations and disappointments.  I found all of these behaviors mark the beginning emotional life for the two-year old who is attending day care.

If your child is in day care and this age, you may be interested in exploring with your teacher the ways your child is developing emotional intelligence.

Parents are advised by experts to:

Become aware of the child’s emotion.
Recognize the emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching.
Listen empathetically and validate the child’s feelings.
Help the child verbally label emotions.
Set limits while helping the child problem-solve.

I was able to sharpen my teaching, listening and caring skills through this “in the trenches experience” and I have a new found appreciation for the amazing minds of two-year olds– their capacity for order and cleanliness, their curiosity about the world, their attention to detail, and most especially the emerging independent spirit that comes from wearing underwear and being able to do things for oneself.  Pay attention.  There is a genius stirring in your two-year-olds mind– even if you can’t quite see it yet.

Dr. Celeste A. Miller

Photographed by Tom Miller

Kwan Yin – Ceramic – Taipei

 

Adam’s Story

Adam’s Story (written by a former student of mine)

Adam was a happy baby and toddler who developed seemingly normal.  Upon entering kindergarten, his parents were asked at the conclusion of the first day of school for their consent to have Adam tested for social and behavioral problems.  Apparently, his first day had not gone well and his teacher seemed stressed and upset.  His parents were immediately confused, concerned, and afraid their child would be “labeled”, and needed to respond to a crisis without a lot of time to process what was happening.  Adam’s parents consented to testing, and within a few months, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  Being from a rural area, the school had not provided services in the past for a child with this particular diagnosis.  Every decision to come would be an experiment, which set this family on a path that served as a test of love’s foundation within their home and among school personnel.

Adam’s parents had many discussions about their love for their son, and how they wanted to advocate for his best interests, while trying to support the school psychologist, social worker, and other specialists.  The process was painful at times, as his parents often had to listen to staff detail hurtful information about Adam’s negative behaviors at school.  Adding to the stress and confusion was the fact that Adam did not exhibit the behaviors at home when he was in an environment that was predictable and safe.   Throughout countless meetings and communications between the parents and school, numerous changes were implemented and altered between kindergarten and third grade.

The parents chose to acknowledge the work school staff was doing on Adam’s behalf even when they did not agree with all the decisions.  They made choices to build upon anything positive, while letting go of things out of their control.  They purposefully wrote letters of gratitude and appreciation to teachers, personal aides, and other staff to let them know they were valuable people to this family.  The more the parents positively engaged school workers, the more responsive they became to Adam and his needs.  The family’s love for one another, their commitment to acknowledge the strengths of others, and their willingness to remain hopeful in the midst of dismal circumstances transformed the ways school staff approached their work with Adam.

In the three years since his diagnosis, Adam, his family, and those who work with him have gone through some extraordinary changes, which include tons of tears, laughter, heartache, and most importantly, the transforming power of love.  Adam is a child who goes to school with joy and anticipation knowing that those around him think he is special.  When love is put into practice, it has the potential to literally change how others think, feel, and behave.

Adam is my child and he has taught me how to get up and keep moving when others do not understand.  He has challenged our family to educate ourselves, to forgive others when they lack knowledge, and to hug someone else just because.  Without the bond of love that binds each one of us together, we would have missed out on the opportunity to open the door to future parents and their children who will on day follow in Adam’s footsteps at school.  The relationships formed in the process are grounded in love and we consider each teacher, social worker, and educator an important and intricate part of our lives.  Simply stated, we love them.  The family truly is love’s crucible for transformation.  May we all be willing to accept the call to love (Anonymous student, 2010).

Surely, the example of this family is a statement of the living truth that the family is love’s transformation.  And this is the way I believe God intends it to be.  The family is called upon to learn about selflessness, sacrifice and service to one another in myriad ways while living out their lives together.  This requirement for love’s expression will challenge and pummel us.  There are many roles love plays in multi-generational family configurations.  All of these present opportunities to be of service to others and to grow in love.

Excerpt from The Reincarnated Child’s Family

Dr. Celeste A. Miller

Art by Tom Miller

Art by Tom Miller

Marriage and Karma

Research says that healthy adult relationships are fundamental to the core strength of the family.  Couples who love each other for all the right reasons are able to withstand more stress and strain and not break up the family. Children cannot create a healthy family core by themselves, they depend on adults.  Research says the development of the child, and the trajectory of the child’s life, as well as the future relationships of the child will all be influenced by his family of origin.

That is true to a point, but not the whole story if you believe in reincarnation. Because the couple relationship is often based on previous karma, there exists either an added strength from positive associations in a past life(s), or a negativity that needs to be healed for the soul(s) to move on.  Considering that there might be an old negative karmic record can help to sustain relationships when things become challenging.  Karmic relationships often tend to be intense and there are often conflicts to work through.  There is no formula for couple success that will work for everyone.

Marital happiness can be marred by the pain we bring into the marriage.  Some psychologists suggest that we bring to the marriage our own pain bodies (to use a phrase popularized by Eckert Tolle) developed from our own childhoods (added to the pain of previous lifetimes).   The spouses we select may be chosen for the very reason that we feel they can help us heal those wounds.  It goes without saying that one of the most emotionally charged relationships we will have is with our parents and our spouses.  Often these are very challenging, and we don’t always understand why.

Locked in our unconscious mind are all the experiences we had with our own parents which will unconsciously influence the way we parent and define marriage.  If we add to this thesis the notion that we too have locked within us unconscious wounds from parents and marriages in previous lifetimes which we are carrying around with us, perhaps also unhealed, then we have an even greater incentive to expose these and heal them.  Because infanticide, child neglect, child sacrifice, child labor and other abuses were prevalent throughout history, it is unavoidable that our souls probably carry a record of perpetrator or victim.   Karma, both good and bad is ever present it seems. For the sake of children and our own spiritual progress it is important to deal with negative karma in ways that create a healthy environment for children to grow up in.

Because of our unresolved “pain bodies”, finding your “soul mate” is no guarantee of creating a strong family core, if the marriage does not help you to evolve out of the pain.  One “soul mate” to someone can in time become a “soul mate” to someone else.  So, who was the real soul mate?  And when the karma is expiated, do you just move on?  There is a revolving door in some people’s relationships.  But, because research confirms that a child needs safety and security with at least one loving adult; it behooves us to wisely and prudently choose who we will marry, so the children can have an unbroken life with the same two parents, if possible and if not, then safety and security with at least one of those adults.

In western societies divorce is common and even marriage is not a requirement for parenting.  Consequently, many children do not experience intact families.  And yet, the research continues to show that children thrive in two parent families.  For many reasons related to health and well-being, it is important to keep a strong couple relationship. Overcoming issues that challenge the strength of the family can in turn also strengthen the souls of all involved.

Dr. Celeste A. Miller

Excerpted from The Reincarnated Child’s Family

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