For over several hundred-thousand years and in the natural world, the role of parenting has been to keep a child fed and safe and teach them enough to be responsible until they become adults around the age on average of 13 – 14 years and are ready to run their own lives. This natural impulse runs through every layer of our being – physical, psychological, mythic, and soul level. A powerful ritual would be performed that makes it clear on all levels that the parents were no longer responsible, the young adult’s new mother is the Earth, and new Father is the sun and it is time to be responsible for feeding themselves and starting their own family. The ritual helps take this most difficult transition in our lives to the mythic to alleviate the emotional grief of this death and rebirth. When done well, this breaks the threads of limiting wounds, beliefs, and myths that might otherwise be perpetuated from generation to generation and allows for more functional relationships among family members throughout the remainder of their lives. It also allows the young adult the freedom to express even greater knowledge and wisdom than their parents have while retaining gratitude for what they recieved. This is the way the evolutionary process continues to greater and greater complexity. Otherwise, if the child falls short of the parents, and their child falls short and so on from generation to generation, you can see that this leads to devolution. This is similarly true for teacher and student relationships.
With the advent and growth of today’s modern society that is upside down in so many ways – see previous posts on the Pachakuti – there is very little support for both parents and children to get through the first 13 years, through the transition, and beyond in a truly functional and more graceful way. In fact, if you really try to do it the original way, you and/or the new adult would probably be put in jail. Add to that the number of children who are extremely sensitive and less likely to tolerate this society as well as their parents may have done in the past, and today it can be very problematic and frustrating for all. And the pressure and expectations of both parents and children today has reached extreme levels, such that no matter what you do, it is hard to feel good enough, or to relax into what should be a very natural and somewhat messy/dramatic process as is true for all beings in this theater. In other words, you are doing just fine, certainly the best you can under the circumstances, so please give yourself and children plenty of credit for navigating some of the roughest seas in the history of parenting. Also recognize, that humanity is shifting in a positive way very rapidly now, so the situation is actually getting much better. In the meantime, perhaps these insights will be useful to you, your children, and young adults.
Following is a breakdown of the typical issues and suggestions from the shaman’s approach that have helped many a family.
1. Your young child is not suited or can not tolerate the current education system, which was and is designed mostly to produce factory workers, or factory owners. Your child may be bored with the material, be way ahead or simply not resonant with what is being taught. If your child is a little shaman, then the added sensitivity and visionary capabilities just exacerbate these issues as well as not feeling understood, and being different than all the other children. In my book, Dreaming Your World Into Being, I mention the Sudbury School that I believe is an ideal model for childhood education. To the extent that a teacher or parent can add content that keeps your child interested and fully engaged this will help. And remember, expect or at least allow for the possibility that your child is way smarter and wiser and more evolved/developed/healed than you. So also, spend much time asking and listening to your child’s opinion about any and all subjects. I was fortunate to have a teacher in 6th grade, and in a school that thankfully allowed me to skip 5th grade, that secretly provided increasingly advanced workbooks as I progressed very quickly and otherwise caused a lot of disruption in class out of boredom. By the end of 6th grade, I was well through the high school level English and pre-Calculus. Without that and a similar support from my parents, I would at the very least have been diagnosed with every childhood disorder known today. So keep feeding your child’s mind and soul with all he or she can devour in whatever form, even if it completely confounds you.
2. Your child is withdrawn, confused or depressed. So are many adults right now, and have only learned or been conditioned to suppress or ignore it. Using the analogy of ocean waves coming onto a beach, at the time of this writing, we are and have been for a couple of years now, in the tumultuous and uncertain time of the whitewater after the wave has crashed. It’s hard to know which way is up, left or right, and swimming hard doesn’t really help. All there is to do is relax and catch some air when you can. Seemingly unmotivated children are really dialed into this right now. They can’t explain it, you can’t fix it, and there is nothing wrong with them or with you. It’s just that without a clear wave that is supporting the possibility of moving in one direction or another, there is not much to do. Some children may have something to distract them in the meantime, be it sports or video games, or texting, and can just stay engaged with the school learning process, which all acts as kind of a life raft in the white water, just helping stay afloat and breathe. For adults, this might be your current job or other endeavor, obviously feeding and clothing the children being number one. This period between waves can last a number of years, so hang in there. But it certainly helps for you and your child to understand this is what is causing the overwhelming influence that is being experienced, and know that in time it will pass. Whatever your child is doing now to cope, will also pass, and they will still grow to be fine adults – humans are miraculously resilient, adaptable, and self-healing.
3. Your child is defiant, frustrated, and easily angered. As with 2. above, many children are aware that the way adults are running the world for the most part is insane. They thought we would have had it figured out by now when they came in, and we haven’t. Would you not at least early on into a situation like this feel the same way? Until you either give up, join the fray, or become and activist or catalyst working toward a solution. Again, they may not have the words or wherewithal to articulate it, which makes it even more frustrating as their parents search for what is wrong and how they can fix it. This simply speaks to adults doing what they can to solve the bigger problem, and again I would suggest a child on every committee, board, and every other important decision making organization and take their opinions and ideas very seriously. And remember, that if the world were still matriarchal, this wouldn’t be such a problem in the first place. Also adding to the complexity is that prodigy child that is destined to extreme heights of accomplishment and/or leadership. Like the Mozart’s, Da Vinci’s, Cleopatra’s, and Katherine the Greats of the world, these children could benefit from being sent off to an apprenticeship as early as age 4 or 6 and would thrive. Tougher for the parent – I know, but better for everyone in the long run.
4. Your child is somewhere around the age of 13 – nuff said? Save for the possibility of a boarding school, an apartment down the street, or building their own stone house in the field next door, you must continue to live under the same roof at least for the next 4 years. Your young adult, on every level of their being feels this is strange at best. They are ready to take over, and/or break free of your rule as is natural after millennia of conditioning. Since society at large today sees them yet as children, this adds confusion because they still are conditioned to need you in so many ways, and the cruel world would not be very supportive of them setting out on their own. And there is also not much opportunity to learn to be fully responsible for themselves, as there was in more natural times. The rite of passage into adulthood ritual is critical at this point. If everyone in the household can be made to understand on all levels what is happening, at least there is a chance that the continued cohabitation can be civil, functional, and even graceful. This is also a time of great sadness as mentioned, when the parent/child relationship is ended. Unless of course you have raised an Alexander the Great, in which case you may all be relieved. In either case, making this clear cut at this point on the soul, mythic, and psychological levels, will greatly diminish the need for the young adult to do it the hard way through constant defiance, troublemaking, depression, or even violence.
5. Remember that every soul in a family is unique, and there are varying degrees of all of these experiences. All complicated by influences in and around us now, and from lifetimes and generations ago for each child and parent. This is where the shamanic healing work for all involved – parents, children, and young adults of all ages – including teachers and society at large is tremendously valuable. It is otherwise quite difficult to get there from here. And if your situation is already ideal or close to it, it is still valuable to engage in the mythic work and rituals to ensure it stays that way for the decades of life together to come. Otherwise, there are a thousand different workarounds and ways this can play out, some easier than others.
Nowhere is the current shift in humanity having a greater impact than on our children, young adults, and parenting. I’ve come to this conclusion after over a decade of working closely with families and my most recent shaman sessions. The families I have worked with as a shaman over the last decade have found it tremendously helpful at the very least to start with the appropriate perspective and a clear understanding of the historical and current factors affecting their experiences in raising children today. The good news is that more and more families across the globe are embracing this new paradigm. I hope that the insights I have shared with you here in summary will be of help regarding what is happening right now, and how to navigate it. And I love nothing more than to do this work with families, so please consider a consultation session to begin with for your particular situation.
With Great Love and Respect,