Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It's been one of those days, peppered with some aggravation with Joran. He torments Jasmijn here and there, he cries and whines about perceived unfairness, he uses mean words against Jasmijn and I.... I work my way through the frustration and anger, trying not to be mean myself. Then, towards the end of the day, he stumbles over something most people would have seen in front of them, and he splats down on the floor. As he cries out in pain, I suddenly remember all of the other little accidents throughout the day. I understand what is going on, and my eyes fill with tears of compassion.

Joran feels "off balance," literally and figuratively. The sensory input he gets is too much or too little: lights are too bright, noises too loud, the curb was closer than he thought, he didn't see the book on the floor.... We all have these moments, but imagine it multiplied into almost every moment in motion! It's no wonder Joran usually wants to stay home in his familiar environment. It's no wonder his behaviors sometimes seem rude, disrespectful, aggressive or even violent. He's trying extra hard to control his life, because there's a little extra that feels out of control for him.

I don't think he's alone. I know a lot of adults who have similar sensitivities, but have adapted to these sensitivities. In fact, we're all a little quirky. As adults, we're free to avoid most situations that make us uncomfortable. For children, this is a different story. Children are at the mercy of adults' decisions, and it is an adult's world. Besides, quirkiness isn't always acceptable (especially in an environment that depends on children behaving and progressing in a more predicable fashion, such as school). Among children, I don't think my son is an anomaly at all. I imagine all children feel small, helpless and out-of-control in a world that is often confusing and overwhelming even for adults.

For these reasons, I don't "punish" my children. The world holds enough natural consequences as it is. Not to mention the punishment of having a frustrated mother. Instead, I try to use the moment as an opportunity to practice unconditional love. I talk to my kids, I try to offer guidance, I reach for creative solutions for everyone's gain, I give in as much as I can, because I am the adult who chose to bring them into the world, which puts me in a position to be responsible for my own needs, and to facilitate the fulfillment of theirs as much as possible. I try to be an example of a person living life the way I think is best... happily.

I don't go for rewards, either. My son has demonstrated more times than I care to admit that he can outsmart any reward system I put in place. Nor would I want to set up a system that supports lies and manipulation in our relationship. In any case, my efforts to manipulate him through punishments or rewards will teach him that using physical or intellectual power to dominate others is okay. Not really the way to a more compassionate, partnership-based world.

This responsibility that I put on myself brings me to the Nuclear Family Dilemma. So far, it feels impossible to get everyone's needs met under this model. The best I can do is try to gather a close-knit community of friends, neighbors, family and other teachers and coaches around me. I can't say I want to live in a tribe, either. I like globalization, at least its many positive aspects. I think humanity is advancing and evolving... I'm just not sure how it's all going to work out. So, I keep stumbling forward.

Maybe I'm like Joran in this way, stumbling about in unfamiliar territory. I want to do things differently from how they were done when I was a child. I want to trust myself through this process rather than following someone else's prescription. I'm always seeking to walk the path according to my own power and confidence. Yes, a lot like Joran.

For me, it's an exercise into a special sort of Awareness. Feeling into all my feelings for the best action in each moment. Sometimes that means continuing to just be with those feelings and accept the situation as it is. I practice appreciation and compassion as much for myself as for my children. I practice squinting my eyes just right to see myself in each of my children and to see the perfection in us all. I practice this everywhere I go, with everyone I meet.

Humbly Yours,
Jolene =)


  1. Jolene,

    I am so delighted and touched by your words! Reading your words I feel as though you were reading my mind as you wrote them! It is so nice to find people of like mind! I am on Shine and decided to read your blog as per your invitation. Looking at your blog, I am amazed by how much we have in common. It's like coming home. I am smiling ear to ear and rejoicing!

    Thanks for being you and taking the time to write this blog.

    So nice to 'meet' you!

    Love and Light,
    Alberta, Canada

  2. Hi Shantel,
    Thank you! Was it pretty much the whole post, or were there specific aspects that stood out? Do you have a sensitive child?
    Jolene =)