On our next episode in our series on relationships, we explore parenting and raising conscious children. We discuss:
Watch the next Soul Session in this series on our YouTube Channel.
How to Raise Conscious Children
Debra Maldonado, Robert Maldonado
Robert Maldonado 00:01
Welcome back to Soul Sessions with Creative Mind. Today we're continuing our series on relationships. This is a particularly important one for us and we hope for you as well. It's how to raise conscious children. Before we get going, maybe we should talk a little bit about our perspective and how we see things.
Debra Maldonado 00:36
I was thinking about this, this is actually one topic I know absolutely nothing about because I'm not a parent. But I've worked with many moms, and fathers, and understand the struggles and questions they have about their children, as they do individuation and go through the process of working with their shadow. They start to ask “What about my kids?” They also ask “How do I get over my own childhood?” and things like that. It's not that I don't know anything about being a parent. But I'm not a parent expert. But you are, you worked in the child psychology and did a lot of work with kids. When any one of our coaches says “What about my children? I have a question about my child.” Talk to Rob, he knows.
Robert Maldonado 01:57
But now we’re primarily talking as coaches.
Debra Maldonado 02:01
We want to be very clear, every time we bring up the issue of childhood, whether it's in shadow work or in talking about parenting, we want to set the record that we're not talking about abusive childhoods or traumas that happened in childhood. That's not for coaching. We're going to keep it in the realm of conscious parenting. We know that these things happen. But that's not to help you get over your traumas from childhood. That's another topic completely than this.
Robert Maldonado 02:42
Often those situations require professional therapists to address those questions. Our approach, if you're not familiar with it, it's quite unique. Because we essentially start off with the assumption that is expanded in the Upanishads, which says that we are spiritual beings having physical experiences. Parenting and childhood is no exception. It is a spiritual experience, both for the mother and the child, or the parents and the children. That's the beginning of the perspective. Then we take a Jungian perspective as to how we work with our mind individually, in families, in situations, in coaching. Then finally, we look at the external circumstances of our life, whether it be in work, or relationships, as a reflection of our own mind. Again, the family situation is no exception. Those situations reflect our own mind. We'll talk a little bit about that.
Debra Maldonado 04:05
I want to mention that I posted in our Facebook group, a question of what would you like us to learn. Not all but some of the— the underlying question I think everyone was asking is “My parents screwed me up, so how do I not screw up my children?” So not only do I want my children to be conscious, but my parents screwed me up or someone in my life screwed me up, so I don't want to do that to other people, which is a great thing to want, it's not to pass on pain. But what we're really getting to with this whole podcast today is that we have to let go of the idea that our parents screwed us up, and that you can't really screw your children up unless those extremes that we're talking about. We're so resilient and so resourceful as human beings that the true essence in us can never be broken or harmed. So what is conscious parenting? What does that mean to you?
Robert Maldonado 05:33
Just like in our work with couples, when we talk about relationships, if you want to find your soulmate, you have to be a soul for yourself. In other words, you have to be in touch with your soul. It's the same thing with parenting. If you want to be a conscious parent, you have to be conscious yourself. In other words, you have to be doing your internal work. It's not about applying a certain kind of discipline or behaving in a certain way. You can only communicate and teach what you yourself are living and breathing, by example.
Debra Maldonado 06:29
I think every parent — I mean, typically, there are those exceptions — but mostly, every parent is trying to do their best, it's great that you have that intention. That intention is all you need, really. Of course, there's personal development. But that intention is the beginning point of you wanting your children to be happy and loving them. That's really the most powerful intention you can have as a parent.
Robert Maldonado 07:01
And just as a way of introduction, right now families are in trouble because of all the stresses on it. It's not an easy task to bring up a child in today's world. It's never been but now I think there's a lot more challenges to parenting.
Debra Maldonado 07:28
This past year with the schools close, and kids being at home with the parents at home all day long, not being able to play with friends. There's a little complexity even this time that we're in of being a parent.
Robert Maldonado 07:43
I think just like in romantic relationships, it's also an opportunity. Anytime you hit these critical points in development in history, social history, and cultural evolution, it's an opportunity to redefine what are we doing? What is the best way to parent, given all the new circumstances of society? We definitely want to see it as an opportunity to do that. Because I think it's long overdue. We need to redefine, what is education? What are the schools going to teach kids and how are they going to teach kids? And then what is the family structure and how does that work?
Debra Maldonado 08:39
And is there room for children education, spiritual work, because I think Alabama finally passed that it's okay to do yoga in schools, because they thought it was too Hindu or something for their kids. They don't want to infiltrate the children with the wrong thing. I think it's true that you don't want to over spiritualize, if you're in a religious school and you're raised by your religion, that's different. But with public schools, there needs to be space for a spiritual life for the children — how do they express their imagination and intuition and all those things, as well as learn how to count and put words together. There’s something much more profound that they can be teaching in the school about the development of themselves, and their connection to the earth, and their spiritual nature, and all those things and how can we do that without offending everyone or someone. It's a challenge. So there's two things we're going to talk about. We're gonna talk about the world of the child. Then we're going to talk about later on intergenerational parenting inheritance that we've gotten. Let's start with the children. I really find this was very interesting when I read that Jung had mentioned that children are really in touch with the collective unconscious. They're wide open to. We can all remember as kids, we were imaginative, we had crazy dreams, we would fly, we had invisible friends that we made, we made play of everything, there weren’t any bounds to our imagination. We believed we were going to be like president or a superhero. There was this freedom that we had to free our imagination. Then we go to school and everything is “You're not being practical or rational.” How do we approach the child in that way? I think a lot of the questions that I've been getting from parents is “How do I keep them in that state of collective, how do we not drown out their intuition? How do we honor that part of them?”
Robert Maldonado 10:58
I think a good understanding of childhood from the Jungian perspective is that they are very much still in touch with a collective unconscious. Now what that means is that their mind is so beyond receiving information from the world, it's in touch with the source of creativity, that's why the play to them is so natural, symbolism is natural to them, they get that life is spiritual. Although they don't have the wherewithal to formulate those ideas, they experience it that way. They experience it very directly, as something incredibly magical and conscious basically.
Debra Maldonado 11:55
They get excited about the most simple things that when they get older would be like “That's a dumb game.” But as a kid, when they're really little, like hide and seek, Freud was talking about how that was such a powerful, they actually got joy, he called it the joyful return. The parent hides and then comes back, the child gets that push pull from that. Then they like the feeling of that return, how we're always searching that in life. We have these parts of ourselves that we still carry with us from childhood, we get excited when we haven't seen a friend for a long time, that joyful return versus a friend who you see every day, or someone you see every day. I just love that idea that there's so much in the child that is magical. And they believe in magic “Oh she really disappeared. And now she's back.”
Robert Maldonado 12:56
That's called object permanence. When something disappears, at an early age, they believe it's gone. When they see it again, it reappears. It's a magical experience. Later on they learn that when something is out of sight, it doesn't mean it disappeared, it's simply hidden from view. It's a nurture vs nature debate that's been going on in psychology for a long time. The question of whether we're born with ideas already pre-programmed, or are we a blank slate and just absorbing the new information of the world. From the Jungian perspective, we definitely come already with a lot of assumptions and a lot of programming, the unconscious mind. It gives us a heads up because it gives us a way of experiencing the world that has been inherited. In recent years, there's been a new perspective on development coming in from evolutionary psychology. One of the most fascinating things is this idea of epigenetics and epigenetic transmission. What that means is that we're not only arriving in this world with our genetic predisposition from our parents, which is the genetic code gives instructions to the body on how to build itself, the eye color, intelligence, all that. But epigenetics is f the cultural layer. Many of the experiences of our great grandparents and our grandparents and our parents are encoded on top of the gene that turned certain genes on and off. The experiences that they went through, our individual grandparents and great grandparents, are inherited.
Debra Maldonado 15:27
So that's why some kids have a strange aversion to certain things. They may have the generational memory in them too. Or even aggression, if they have aggression. There's could be that tendency, there were some questions in the group about when siblings are fighting and one is more aggressive than the other. Where did that happen? Why is this one kid so good and why the other one is rambunctious and a little aggressive? How does that play out? What you're talking about is that they're maybe different in that epigenetic level?
Robert Maldonado 16:04
Because it makes the whole question of behavior a lot more complex. You're not only talking about the individual's inheritance from the genetic code playing out in intelligence and aggression. Every human trait has a genetic component. Now we're understanding that there's also this evolutionary mechanism that connects us to the actual behavior and the actual individual experiences of our ancestors.
Debra Maldonado 16:46
We're not talking about trauma, we're talking about just being alive. There are certain circumstances, like Holocaust survivors, or Depression. My grandparents grew up in the Depression, they lost everything, they have some kind of codes for losing their business and livelihood, and stress. We're not talking about the heavy stuff, this is coaching. But it does include that, life’s traumatic, birth is traumatic.
Robert Maldonado 17:20
We don't want to define it as traumatic, that's a clinical term, but life has its ups and downs. It's got its rough patches even in the best circumstances, it challenges you. It's meant to, in other words, it's not meant to be totally isolating you to where you don't experience any difficulties.
Debra Maldonado 17:46
That's what's happening today I think. Everyone gets a trophy, they call it the bulldozing parenting, where you want to bulldoze the path so your child doesn't have any difficulties. I think we have to remember that it's those difficulties that actually help them create their resilience. You can't possibly cushion them from life, or they're going to be in this bubble, then they go out into the world and it's a shock to them. They go to kindergarten and not everyone loves them and thinks they're perfect. We have to remember, we want to have a good intention but you don't want to be that bulldozer where you're so afraid of them having any little pain or any little discomfort that it becomes like that devouring mother, overprotective. That could be in everything. Extreme is probably something to watch for.
Robert Maldonado 18:41
The mind needs a little bit of pressure, a little bit of challenge from the environment, in order to really activate itself and grow to its full potential.
Debra Maldonado 18:55
So if someone had a harsh epigenetic experience from an ancestor, it doesn't mean that it's a terrible thing. That actually could be the source of strength, a wave to be resilient. And also, to break a pattern from generations, you be the one to break that pattern of victimhood, or feeling powerless. Now you're going to see anything that's happened to you, you can use for your strength and for your growth.
Robert Maldonado 19:30
Now we put the whole picture together. We have definitely genetic inheritance that's passed down from our mother and father. But the epigenetic then connects us to our recent generations and what they've experienced. We don't know exactly how far it goes back, but probably to ancient times as well, which supports Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious, his ideas that we're not only experiencing ourselves as individuals and working with our own personal unconscious, the things that we forget or that we've repressed in our personal experience, but also that generational element which connects us to all humans and the human experience on the planet. What that means for children is that when you're working with them, when you're raising them or helping raise them, or working with them as teachers or coaches, you have to consider that. We know, for example, a great way to work with kids is through art. Unfortunately, in the schools right now, what's happening is a lot of the art programs, creative programs are being phased out.
Debra Maldonado 21:14
That's been for decades now. I remember when I worked at MTV, we had a program called Save the Music. It was all nonprofit to save music — and that was in the 80s — to save music in the schools. It's been going on for a long time. We don't value that. You can't be a musician, that's not going to help you get a job eventually. Spiritually and emotionally, it's really powerful for a child to express their creativity.
Robert Maldonado 21:45
Not only that, but again, if we consider that connection to the collective unconscious, art is a way of expressing that, because it's all about symbolism, it's all about expressing from within, instead of just looking without the external world. The great emphasis in today's education is on cognitive development, language, mathematics, science, if they're lucky—
Debra Maldonado 22:19
Not even emotional, they should teach emotional wisdom, creativity.
Robert Maldonado 22:24
A lot of left brain activities. Nothing wrong with that, kids need that because it helps them develop discipline, structure, language. If you want to predict how well a kid will do, you look at their language skills. That's one of the biggest indicators of how well they're gonna do in the future. It's how human beings communicate and get along in the world, through this narrative, this way of symbolic communication.
Debra Maldonado 23:06
When we talk about this imagination, as a parent, we want to make sure that when kids are doing homework, or they're doing a lot of left brain activities, we want to encourage them to take a break, draw a picture, do something, or create a play, get on the floor and play with them. Even sports can be creative, make up a game together, have them use their imagination. Another thing too that I think would be interesting, and I know you had this experience as a child with your grandmother is to explore dreams with the children. What did you dream last night? Help them talk about their dreams. No one ever asked me what my dreams were.
Robert Maldonado 23:56
Back to play before we get into dreams. There is a play deficit in current society.
Debra Maldonado 24:11
Even as adults, we have a play deficit.
Robert Maldonado 24:13
Absolutely. But it begins in childhood. And it's more important for children really to experience that freedom and that imagination in play. Because our system needs it, our brain craves that ability to play, to joke around, to have fun, to imagine and to act out those imaginations in a social setting because that's really how we learn social skills — through play as children. If we're not allowed to play with others actively, meaning in present moment, I don't mean just through texting and zoom—
Debra Maldonado 25:01
Or in video games where you have the headset, playing with other kids, and you're not really in person. You were telling that a lot of the kids aren't having that one on one social contact, which is affecting their brains, the way they're interacting, because they're not having that social, sort of personal—
Robert Maldonado 25:20
There was some research, I was reading that they were looking at kids that were being taught another language through the internet. They were actively looking at an adult and the adult was teaching them. But once they did the longer term analysis, they realized it wasn't having the same impact that being present with a live person was having. They weren't absorbing the information in the long run. It wasn't really activating those language brain centers that social interaction has.
Debra Maldonado 26:04
I think too, if you think about it, the body language and unconscious communication between people, if you're only seeing this part, you're only seeing a piece of who that person is, the way they stay, the way they hold themselves, the way they hold their legs and move in there, all the subtleties of the facial expressions, you probably can't pick up as much on a video.
Robert Maldonado 26:25
There's definitely something different about seeing an image of a person even though you're hearing them and observing them, than being present with somebody. There's a different energy when somebody is in a room, or you're with somebody in a room, you feel their presence.
Debra Maldonado 26:43
So we talked about play, we talked about bringing out their creativity, imagination. Let me ask you this question. A lot of people have asked “How do I discipline my child without creating more shadow? How do I create a healthy ego?” When we think about disciplining and setting boundaries, all those things, how do you do it in a way that's conscious, but also where you're not overly worried that you're going to create shadow? I'm gonna screw this child up because I sent them to that room. How would you answer that? How do you discipline a child in a way that encourages growth? And I guess the second part of the question is, can you cushion them from creating persona shadows and egos and can you make them have a strong ego? Can a parent influence a child that way?
Robert Maldonado 27:46
The latest assumption is that it's about 50/50. Genetics and epigenetics would be the 50% that we would bring into the world and are born with, and the other 50% is the parenting or the environment.
Debra Maldonado 28:12
So the parents are never 100% responsible, except that their genetics are a piece of it, but you can't take responsibility for it.
Robert Maldonado 28:23
But you can obviously create enriched environments, meaning books. If kids grew up with parents who have books in the house, they're more likely to succeed. It just increases their curiosity about language, about reading, about writing. Compared to kids that grew up never seeing an adult reading.
Debra Maldonado 28:58
Also, I see this a lot with families, everyone's at dinner, at the restaurant, and everyone's looking at their computer. There should be rules when we're in the living room everyone put their phone down and let's be with each other versus individually in our own little bubble. But I want to ask you about the behavior because a lot of parents have this conflict. Maybe they had a strict parent and critical parent, and they don't want to be that to the child. They're worried about setting boundaries or setting structure. You had always said that actually kids crave that structure. They feel like they're going to hurt them if they send them to the room, or give them a timeout, or tell them they can't have something.
Robert Maldonado 29:48
If you think what does parenting do and what does socialization do? It is information that the child needs to feel like they can go out into the world and predict what's going to happen. To some extent, there's always a chance element.
Debra Maldonado 30:12
So the discipline is really about preparing them to be in the world versus you just can't tolerate their screaming. It's more like the world's not going to tolerate that either.
Robert Maldonado 30:24
That's right. So just basic setting limits. A lot of parents don't know how to do it, because maybe they grew up in a household where boundaries were not really discussed or overly held.
Debra Maldonado 30:41
For me boundaries were very strict. And I was always afraid, even with my clients in the beginning, I'd be afraid of I don't want to be like my father, like “This is the way it is.” I know how it felt being imposed with all those boundaries. But I also know that in a way, we always had to be on time, we weren't allowed to be a minute late. It helped me be punctual, respectful of people's time. All these things that I resented as a kid, like “Just give me a break”, in the end I feel so grateful for learning, having that as an adult. I think I got really good guidelines to behave in the world.
Robert Maldonado 31:28
I think that's where a lot of parents get it wrong. They're not clear on what are the boundaries. They might communicate to the child “I want you to behave”, that doesn't mean anything to the child, except behavior just means emitting a behavior. You have to be specific with kids, especially early on, and explain to them, how do I want you to act? You want to define what is proper behavior, according to your parenting rules.
Debra Maldonado 32:15
And the kid feels more secure. That's what you said, they crave it. Tthey're actually more secure with the structure than when you don't have structure, it's very insecure. Especially if you're ambivalent, where sometimes you let them get away with it and other times you don't, the child becomes very insecure of what's right and wrong and where are the rules?
Robert Maldonado 32:40
Yes. It's counterintuitive because like you say the kids often resist the boundary setting, but at the same time it helps them feel more secure, more sure of themselves. Because they understand, the parent is driving, they're in control.
Debra Maldonado 33:02
Wouldn't this be a way of helping them? Because another question that came in is how do I help my child have a strong ego because you need a strong ego to basically survive in the world. Will having strong boundaries contribute to building a strong ego and not having boundaries maybe have an ambivalent ego, where they don't know who they are, they don't know what the rules are, and everything's ambivalent.
Robert Maldonado 33:28
A lot of that family structure is internalized. We internalize our parents’ voices, we internalize the structure, the unspoken rules of how do I express emotions? How do I behave? What do I do in certain situations? All that is internalized very early on, and we're not even aware of it, we're absorbing it from our parents. At the end of the day, the best way to parent of course is to yourself have proper boundaries and a strong ego, or have a strong definition of who you are and what you want.
Debra Maldonado 34:13
Do you feel like sometimes parents please the child because of their own need to be liked? There's this stuff that they haven't worked out, they project on the child — you're going to be the success that I never was. I hated being criticized as a kid so I'm never going to tell you you did anything wrong. Your own stuff is influencing how you approach the child.
Robert Maldonado 34:43
That's right. You want to be conscious of that. The more conscious the parent is, of course, the better for the child because they're going to absorb that unconsciously. In other words, you don't have to explain to the child everything that's going on in your head, but they’ll absorb it. They’re really good observers. They have this ability to really discern what the energy of the person is, intuitively, they're not thinking it through.
Debra Maldonado 35:24
You can't really fool them if you're trying to get them to please you. They know it and use it against you. They'll see that I’m the kryptonite for my parent, she wants to please me. They'll push the boundaries as much as they can, they test them.
Robert Maldonado 35:44
That's part of their strategies. In other words, the child won’t be able to know where exactly the boundary is unless they test it. They're going to test it as part of their nature. Your task as a parent is to know where the boundary is and to enforce it. Because if you set a boundary, and they test it and you don't enforce it, they get away with it, then it's not really a boundary, it's not functioning as a boundary. Then the insecurity of the child grows. Because if the parent doesn't know where the boundary is—
Debra Maldonado 36:25
We think if we put boundaries up, we're going to create an insecurity, but they actually create security.
Robert Maldonado 36:33
Another common mistake with parents that I see is that they're not on the same page. The mom and dad are on different wavelengths. They have different parenting styles or different discipline styles. The kid is not going to respond.
Debra Maldonado 36:57
I have a lot of clients that have blended families, and the new husband brings his stepkids in, they are disciplined much differently than their children. Why are those kids allowed to eat ice cream and I have to eat my non-fat yogurt? Why are we not allowed to have sweets, but they are? That kind of thing. So we have to say both parents, if you're living in the household, have to come to a common. That can be really difficult because their kids would be used to be having a certain style, then this new style, and then there's a clash and they resent. You would need someone to help you navigate all that instead of trying to figure it out yourself or—?
Robert Maldonado 37:46
No, it's just communication. It's simply talking about it and saying “What's your plan on this? What happens when they do this?” Coming to some agreement. It's not that one person has the right way of doing it, and the other one the wrong way, it's simply a different approach. You want to compromise a little bit and say what's the middle ground.
Debra Maldonado 38:12
And then also the new partner and his new wife and what's going on when the kids are over there. With divorce, children are having a lot of challenges. Let's get to — because we don't want to make this all just about behavior — spiritually, how do we foster? Creativity is one of them, but how do you talk to your children about God and spirituality? Some people have their religion structure, they go to church, or they go to synagogue, and they have the spiritual foundation and their family life integrated, where a lot of people are now moving to spiritual but not religious. A lot of parents today are breaking away from their religion of origin and figuring out a way of how to be spiritual with their kids. A lot of my clients have told me they rebelled against their parents religion. Even if the mother was very spiritual and New Agey, they'll be like “She was into all that stuff.” They turn out to be rebellious and scientific. So how do you navigate spirituality with children?
Robert Maldonado 39:31
The common misperception is that children can’t understand spiritual concepts, but that's totally false. I would say it's the contrary. When you're a child, you're more likely to understand spiritual concepts because your mind hasn't been boxed in by society yet. So you're open to it.
Debra Maldonado 39:57
They’re close to it because you have that collective unconscious. You have a direct experience of the mystical already. I know what it means to know when something's going to happen, or I know what it means when I can read people and see how they feel. I know what it means to fly in my dreams and have these extraordinary symbols show up.
Robert Maldonado 40:17
That openness that children have allows them to understand incredibly philosophical questions. That's why they ask the right questions. Why is the sky blue? Where do babies come from?
Debra Maldonado 40:33
What happens after we die? They ask those really deep questions that sometimes the parents don't know how to answer. I think you have to be honest because they know you're lying to a certain extent?
Robert Maldonado 40:49
I don't know if it's about honesty, but it's about being open to discussing instead of saying “I don't know, go ask your father” or “Go ask your teacher”.
Debra Maldonado 41:03
Or you're too young to know that.
Robert Maldonado 41:05
Exactly. Engage them in that conversation.
Debra Maldonado 41:11
A lot of our clients do the Jungian work and learn about individuation. When do you talk to your child about that? If I had a kid, I would say you have an ego, and then you're going to have this persona in kindergarten, and you're going to pick what that is, and that's just part of your life. I mean, is that too young for a child to understand these concepts of their personality or their mask?
Robert Maldonado 41:49
Not at all. Because, again, if they're asking the deep, profound questions, that's what they crave. They crave understanding their own mind — what is it that I'm experiencing? Why do I have this mind? Why do I have dreams at night?
Debra Maldonado 42:05
If no one else entertains those questions, they lose the sense of spirituality and connection, get more into the physical, material world and think in more logical terms. They forget those mysteries of life.
Robert Maldonado 42:24
They get the adults are uncomfortable talking about this.
Debra Maldonado 42:27
Or it’s not important.
Robert Maldonado 42:29
The message is that it's not important, or that we don't talk about those things in the family, around the dinner table. If you know something about your dream life, about Jungian psychology, about the persona, the ego, you can talk to them about this. Obviously, at their level, whatever age they are, but describe to them or explain to them a little bit about what is going on when you interact with other kids. What are thoughts? What is imagination? What is emotion? People are learning about emotions from those Disney movies.
Debra Maldonado 43:18
I love that movie. We were just watching something where one woman was bringing yoga into the school. The kids were talking about their energy and how they felt and what it felt when they were scared. The teacher was teaching them how to breathe and how to use the breath. All those things are really valuable, doesn't have to be like “Let's talk to some spiritual guide.” You could just talk about breath and energy and feelings and intuition and knowing and feeling, also feeling other people's feelings. I think no one's ever told me that but I would pick up on how other people felt. We never talked about that. That’d be something you can teach your kids to keep that channel open, that it's normal, that that's what we do. We sense other people. There's a lot they're learning, they're not learning about the psychology of themselves and who they are. So you said we can talk about these things. What about Shadow Work for children? Maybe when they're teenagers, they can start a little bit?
Robert Maldonado 44:33
It depends on the child. There's kids that I've worked with, incredibly intuitive, able to understand the dynamics of the mind. They understand that you can hide things from yourself in your own mind.
Debra Maldonado 44:53
So I would think it would be very useful for a child to say “I want to be good, and Jimmy and class keep interrupting the teacher. And it really bothers me.” It's like “That bothers you because that's what you don't want to be. That's the shadow, you create this goodness, then you judge him”, those simple things to understand. Maybe not to have them integrate the shadow yet, but understand the concept of “I choose to be this, that’s why the opposite triggers me.” You think that's okay for a kindergartner? We all believe that they're not wise. But they're so wise.
Robert Maldonado 45:31
They're very wise. Their mind is capable of understanding a lot more than we give them credit for usually. And they are highly emotional. This is another mistake we often make as adults, because we think the emotions develop like the cognitive abilities develop, from very small capacity to larger capacity. But that's not what happens. We're born already with a fully developed emotional sense of ourselves in the world. And so a child can feel the intense emotions that we feel.
Debra Maldonado 46:15
Same exact intensity too. Then also, the research that came in is that at five, that template is formed for the child of how they respond, what do they have access to? How much joy can they feel? How much anger do they feel? All that stuff is programmed in at five, even though cognitively they grow and learn more about themselves, they have more of a logical understanding of things, theoretically, but emotionally we're still five years old, all of us until we become conscious of it. We don't want to suppress emotions with the child either or tell them that it's not good to feel, to cry, or you want to encourage them to connect with their emotions and feel what they're feeling. If they're angry, instead of saying “Don't be angry”, “Let's examine the anger” versus “That's bad, be happy.”
Robert Maldonado 47:14
The only way to master something is to understand it. If you've never practiced and you never are able to express the full range of your emotions, then we repressed them and never really learn how to work with them. So it is an important part to understand that kids are highly emotional, that they should be able to express some of those emotions and then be able to work with them, meaning we don't want them just expressing emotion all the time but be able to process them in a more methodical way.
Debra Maldonado 47:57
I love the idea of seeing the child as possibility versus — just like yourself — seeing them as broken, or they have behavior issues, or even a label of dysfunction or disorders. You want to see the child as a possibility beyond what other things are happening. I know a lot of parents that have a child that's been diagnosed with a disorder, or setback, ADD or something like that. It's very important to see the child beyond that label. Instead of “I have my ADD child”, it's “My child has ADD, but my child is my child first.” Not letting that label cover over the person.
Robert Maldonado 48:41
That's an incredibly important piece. Because in schools now, a lot of those labels are thrown around haphazardly. Sometimes by people that have no business making those kind of calls. They’ll label a child is with a learning disability, when maybe the kid hasn't even been tested yet, properly assessed. All those labels are two-edged sword. On the one hand, people sometimes need them so that they can get the services that the child need and support. But at same time, because it is a label, and it's out there, the other kids hear about it, and the kid hears about it, it becomes part of their identity.
Debra Maldonado 49:37
There's a stigma to it too. I know a lot of my friends that are grown up now have had dyslexia. They talk about that shame that they have from that label. As parents, we don't want to be ashamed if our kid has some kind of learning disability. We try to be proud as parents, that idea that you want the perfect child. That's all ego. Putting that aside and letting in unconditional love and seeing the child as that's just a tiny little piece of who that beautiful spiritual being is, and seeing their potential brings them out and helps them grow. When I first met you, you worked with a lot of kids with autism. I used to say “autistic children”, and you were like “No, it's children with autism." You had told me that once they got the label, everyone around them started changing, the parents started seeing them differently, the teachers, their friends — and they were locked in. We did this beautiful thing back in Denver, the art class. We put on this art show, and we didn't say “Children with autism have art”, we just said “Here's the children's art show.” These children came out of their shell, there was one girl I remember, she's probably 30 now, because it was so long ago. But I remember she wouldn't even look at me in the eye ever. She was a beautiful artist, we actually have one of her pictures from that show. I remember, she looked up at me and saw me in my eyes, and she ran away and came back and handed me this heart. It was such a beautiful moment, because she was seen as something besides that disability. It was just beautiful. These kids were so excited that they were featured and we treated them like typical children. When they have a disability or challenge, we have to address that but also hold that they're typical children too. They have feelings and emotions and gifts, just like every other child. And then ourselves too, when we think about our parents and how we believe that they wronged us, we have to stop defining ourselves by our childhood, our situation that we grew up in. That doesn't have to define us anymore.
Robert Maldonado 52:14
Understanding and applying — because we have so much information about how the mind works, how the brain works, but we're not applying it where it really counts, which is with kids in the beginning. That's one of the redefinitions that we have to make about what is education, not only we have to teach them math and reading but the emotions, the sense of self, the interaction with other kids, imagination, all those things, they should be a central part of an educational process.
Debra Maldonado 53:07
The last part is how you parent your children to be sure that you're not — we talked about making a compromise, making up for the poor parenting you received as a child. You have to do your own work, the best thing you can do for your child is to let go of your judgments and resentment of your childhood and parents. Not to let anyone get off the hook but you have to stop caring that they wronged me and that you're imprinted forever with that past. Or else you're going to pour that into your parenting with your kids and you're going to try to compensate and make up and give the kid everything you didn't have, which is a great thing to do but then it's not really coming from a real place. It's coming from an ego, building up your own ego and getting away from that. You want to have that intention but without that baggage and a burden of judgment.
Robert Maldonado 54:06
It's almost like the definition of good parenting is being willing to mess it up because we're human beings. So we're going to mess it up. Nobody's going to be a perfect parent, nobody's going to have the perfect child. But that in itself is love. That's the definition of love that you accept somebody despite their human foibles.
Debra Maldonado 54:36
If you can love your parents even if they did a terrible job, just be like “They tried the best they could.” You'll be able to be that to yourself as a parent to your children, and then it's okay to mess up with your kids too. It's okay to say “I screwed up here, let’s try this over. Talk to me about how that feels.” Be open with them. But maybe drawing the line with negotiating with them. “Jimmy, let's make a deal. If you do this, I'll do this.” You want to keep the authority. But it's okay to be real and human with your children too. I think a lot of times what's most dangerous or impactful of us as children is what our parents hide from us or think they hide from us. They're not able to really express who they are because they think you need to be this way to be a good person in society. Then you can't have any flaws, or you can't express those things, you got to keep up the appearances. My mother used to always say “What will the neighbors think.” She said that all the time, I'm sure we've all heard that. We have to bring our kids up as a good part of society but we don't want to let that burden of judgment from others weigh them down and create that heaviness around just being themselves and making mistakes. So you want to get to some questions?
Robert Maldonado 56:03
Let's do it.
Debra Maldonado 56:04
Okay. “I don't trust any school curriculum to be taught as intended. We're always limited by the consciousness of the teacher.” Correct?
Robert Maldonado 56:13
Unfortunately, we don't pay teachers very well. That's one of the problems. We need to make an important profession where people can be proud of being teachers, so that we draw talented people to the profession. Think of the importance that they have, they are molding those young minds. We just need to redefine what teaching is.
Debra Maldonado 56:45
“How can a man who grew up with an alcoholic mother now learn to express the emotions to his wife? What are the steps?” Three steps, Rob! Number one?
Robert Maldonado 56:57
It's becoming conscious of that. If you're aware of it already you've done the first step, which is insight. You know that it's impacting you, you know that it's going to influence the way you relate to your wife. Now, the second step is seeing it as an opportunity. Because if you define it as broken, as some kind of trauma, it's going to negatively impact your life. That's what you'll experience. But if you redefine it as “Here's my chance to be a better person, to really become more conscious because of that experience” now you're approaching it in a much better way. You're able then to use that emotion or that energy, that past conditioning, to reinvent yourself, recreate yourself.
Debra Maldonado 57:55
“When a parent goes on vacation, and the child is nonverbal, nine months of one year, how should you talk to the child that you're not abandoning him or her?”
Robert Maldonado 58:04
Again, the emotions, you communicate with that love, with a nonverbal communication, that's very powerful. Children understand that language.
Debra Maldonado 58:17
Even saying “I'm coming back”, energetically they'll know. We think because they're not speaking, they don't understand language, but it's because their vocal cords haven't been developed yet, so they can't. When they're babbling, they're actually warming up their vocal cords to prepare themselves for speech. But it doesn't mean that that's how they're thinking, or that's how they're communicating with you. Their instrument isn't formed yet, so they have this. They know more than you say, and you can talk to them like an adult. “How do you feel about this new child raising concept of non gender, parents are announcing the birth sex of the child until the child directs the gender?”
Robert Maldonado 59:09
As parents and as freethinkers, we always advocate for people's ability to determine their own destiny. So if a parent feels strongly about that, I think we support that, we support very individual decisions. Now, whether they are right or wrong, who's to say? It might be right for them.
Debra Maldonado 59:43
Does it cause confusion or not? I think, either way, if you give them a gender and it's not them, they're going to correct. So it works, I guess, without the intention. I think forcing them into agenda that they're not is probably more damaging than just giving it up. But I don't know. I guess there'll be research on it eventually, because it's a new thing.
Robert Maldonado 1:00:17
Again, the way societies form those rules are very flexible, because different cultures have different ways of doing it. That means there is no real set pattern of the way it's supposed to be done.
Debra Maldonado 1:00:36
Even gender-wise, there's certain cultures where the woman has a different role than in another tribe or another culture. There's no set rules, I think the Western culture feels fixed but now we're seeing this new emergence of non-gender and people coming out as themselves. There's more acceptance, more than ever of. It's always been around, it's just now there's more acceptance.
Robert Maldonado 1:01:05
It's always been fluid, except the impression was that there's a right way to do it. And anybody else that doesn't do it that way is rejected from society. And that doesn't work because you're cutting out a lot of people with valuable ideas and skills to bring to society.
Debra Maldonado 1:01:29
And not to judge others who actually do the gender thing, where it's like “I'm having a girl, I'm gonna dress her like a girl.” Don't judge your neighbor, the yardstick you measure others, you measure yourself. So you can do that but you don't want to advocate that this is the only way to do it. You say "This is the way I choose. I respect other people that are choosing their way.” I think that's the best way to be. Don't tell other people what they should do. But this has been a really interesting conversation about child rearing. I think I probably would have been so overprotective. I would get nervous with my niece and nephew all the time climbing and getting into things. I say my children would be wearing helmets and pads on them to make sure they don't fall. But it's the toughest job in the world. And they say it is the most underpaid job, because most of the time the mother is not being paid to raise their children. And now they're also having to have a career to bring a second income in, and in charge of everything. It's one of those things where, especially when they're little, sometimes you don't feel that they appreciate you for what you're doing and even appreciate you for the boundaries that you're setting and the way you're presenting yourself to model for them. Especially when they're teenagers, when they start to rebel. I'm sure it's tough. So every time I see rebellious teenagers in a movie, I'm like “Oh my god, I don't know if I can handle it.” So thank you, mothers, for all you do. “When a kid doesn't talk about feelings at all and evades the topic, how do you get him to open up? How do you help him get in touch with his emotions?”
Robert Maldonado 1:03:20
Depends on the kid but you definitely want to model that process for them, meaning, you want to play out the emotion for yourself, so they can observe how it's done.
Debra Maldonado 1:03:39
Maybe instead of talking about it, there's a game that you can play with them of what his anger feels like or looks like. Maybe getting out of the language of it. Maybe there's another way to express it, or draw a picture of what it feels like. The logical or the cognitive talking about it might not be the way. I am not a child psychologist, but I know a lot of times they ask the kid to draw what they're feeling. So that kind of thing would be a good start, to make it a playful thing. Draw different characters and which one is feeling what. Ask what the characters are feeling instead of what they're feeling. That would be a way also. Well, thank you so much for your questions. And we are talking next week. I'm prepared this week. Next week, we're going to talk about empowering work relationships. Whether you're a business owner and you have team members, whether you're in a corporate setting, whether you're a leader, how to deal with your own, how to deal with the cranky boss. Those dynamics and what do they say about yourself and your mind and your shadow? It's going to be an enlightening conversation. After that we're going to talk about soulmates. So we're going to end with love. Hopefully we'll see you next week. If you haven't yet, join our Facebook group, Jungian Life Coaching with Creative Mind, search for us on Facebook. It's a free group, come in and say hello, lots of content in there. Also subscribe to our YouTube channel. You get notifications when we go live. We go live every Friday here at noon Pacific. And we really want to hear more. So don't forget to post questions or comments if you're listening to the replay, and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Soul Sessions with Creative Mind. And that's all you need to do. There's a bunch of things, but we would love to see you in all those areas. And watch our previous podcast here on the YouTube channel. There's so many great topics that we cover that you might find interesting.
Robert Maldonado 1:06:00
We'll see you next time. Thanks for watching.
Debra Maldonado 1:06:02
Take care and have a fabulous, fabulous Friday, and we'll see you soon.