22 Apr What should I teach my children?
by don Miguel Ruiz with Janet Mills
Love and respect are what we should teach our children, but the only way to teach them love and respect is to love and respect ourselves. There is no other way. We can only give what we have, not what we don’t have. I can only share what I know. I cannot tell you anything that I don’t know. My parents taught me what they learned from their parents. How could they teach me something different? They could not do better than that. I cannot blame my parents for the programming I received. I cannot blame my teachers for the training I received in school. They did their best; it was the only thing they knew, and they passed it on to the next generation.
The only chance to break the chain of lies is to change the adults, to change ourselves.
Children are very aware. They learn from what we do; they learn what they see, not just what we say. We tell them, “Never lie to anybody.” Later, somebody is knocking on the door, and we say, “Tell them I’m not here.” Whatever we do at home, the way we behave, the way we treat one another, is what our children learn. If we are never at home, that becomes normal behavior for them. When they grow up, they are not at home either, and their children are alone. The way we speak is the way they speak. If we curse at home, they curse, too. If they receive violence, they deliver violence.
If we fight and share our anger and our poison, our children learn that this is the normal way of being, and this is how they learn to write their own stories. But if there is respect and honor at home, if there is love at home, this is what they learn.
By changing ourselves, by loving ourselves, the message we deliver to our children carries the seeds of love and truth. These seeds go into our children, and these seeds can change their lives.
Imagine how our children will grow up when we share with them the seeds of love instead of the seeds of fear, judgment, shame, or blame. Imagine how they will grow up when we finally respect them as humans just like us, and we don’t try to break their integrity because we are bigger and stronger. Imagine when we teach our children to be secure in themselves and to have their own voice. Imagine how everything will change if we bring respect to any relationship.
People have asked me why I don’t work with children, and the reason is because they have parents. It doesn’t matter what I tell children; it is undone by their parents. I prefer to teach parents and teachers because our children learn from them. Our future as a human race depends on children. Children will take our place one day, and we are training them to be like us. Just imagine if your parents had told you a different story when you were a child. Your life story would be completely different. But you can still change your story, and if you have children, the only way to change their story is to change your own.
Adapted from The Voice of Knowledge: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace. Copyright © 2004 by Miguel Angel Ruiz and Janet Mills. Reprinted by Permission of Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc., San Rafael, California.
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