Our Role in Parent-Child Relationships

“Our sole mission as parents of children is not even to get them to meditate. It’s to get them to understand that we are going to help them carry out the research into what they’re best at. What is it that they enjoy doing the most that they’re best at?”

Thom Knoles

Why do we choose our parents and why do our children choose us? 

Working out the evolutionary function of parent-child relationships is tricky, and quite possibly a waste of time. While it might satisfy the intellect to come up with an answer, the contributing factors are likely to be more complex than the intellect can process.

What we can do though, is to become exemplars in the relationship, whether it be with our parents, or with our children. We can bypass the need to know, or the need to control the dynamic, and shine the light for parents and children to follow, should they choose two.

Thom explains more in this Q&A episode… 

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Episode Highlights


Q-Why Did I Choose My Parents?



A-The Purpose of Jiva



The Menu of Potential Parents



Governing Agents in Our Lives



Gratitude for Challenging Home Life



The Curse and Blessing of Materialism



Parenting Our Parents



The Gift of Enlightenment



Q-How to Inspire Stubborn Child’s Knowledge Without Force?






Teachable Moment



Encouraging Self-Discovery in Children


Jai Guru Deva


Our Role in Parent-Child Relationships

[00:45] Q-Why Did I Choose My Parents?

Hi Thom. You have mentioned before that Jivas picked their parents for the coming lifetime so they can work through things. Do you have any tips on how I can identify what I, the Jiva, me wanted myself to work on? Is it where there is resistance or friction with my family? Or when I want to run away from certain situations, is that where I actually need to stay put and figure it out?

Thank you. And Jai Guru Deva.

[01:12] A-The Purpose of Jiva

Ah, my meditator, Jiva, means the individual assembly of consciousness, the senses, the five senses, and the intellect, and the body of emotion, and the mind itself, all assembling themselves as individuality.

That individuality has perceived needs, and that individuality between body lives reaches a certain point where it’s time to continue the process of evolution by integrating everything that you gained in between lifetimes, and bringing it into function here on the earth.

A Jiva is, by definition, not an enlightened being. It is consciousness seeking enlightenment. It’s a drop in the ocean holding onto the idea that, “I’m a drop. I’m not the ocean. I might even recognize there is an ocean, but I’m holding onto my ideal of being a drop.” This is Jiva, J-I-V-A, Jiva.

And when it’s time for Jiva to come to the earth one doesn’t just manufacture parents. There’s a menu. There are a number of potential parents available. Some of them might not be available as parents for quite a number of years in earth time. Others might be available as parents right away without a number of years passing. And we have some common characteristics with these people who are on our personal menu as being potential parents of ours, and one of those elements is unfinished business. We had a relationship with these two people in prior existences of ours, and one of the ways that we might fulfill that unfinished business, finish that unfinished business, is by becoming a child of these two.

[03:33] The Menu of Potential Parents

Who knows, maybe they were a child of ours? Not always, but let’s not forget about that possibility, that there’s some unfinished business.

And if we don’t choose them as parents, we’re going to still have to complete that unfinished business in a different way of relating to them, even if we choose others as being our potential parents.

So unfinished business is one of the characteristics of the process of making a choice about which of these two human beings are going to be those who have primacy in our upbringing.

Another thing has to do with the proximity of knowledge. Knowledge to gain enlightenment, to stop being merely a Jiva, and to become Atman. Atman means the realized soul. Atman means, I understand myself to be the one indivisible, whole consciousness field, Atman.

To move from being Jiva, merely Jiva, to being Atman, the fulfillment of the entire process of evolution.

Knowledge may be adjacent to parents whose capacity to create an ideal environment for us is limited. So maybe we’re not going to get an ideal environment as a child if born to these two. But there is knowledge adjacent.

And when knowledge is adjacent, it may mean that if I am forced to be a seeker of greater truth by being in an unideal parental relationship with these two people, I’ll become a seeker very quickly, and knowledge is adjacent. It’s going to be easy to find the knowledge. The sooner I become a seeker, the quicker I’m going to dive into the knowledge.

[05:40] Governing Agents in Our Lives

And so this may be one of the deciding factors of being born to a particular couple who happen to be on the menu of couples who could potentially be our parents.

There’s a third thing that is of all of these things, the most important, and that is the availability of a couple to generate a human body for us, a fetus, into which we can move, and to attain to a birth under a particular planet set.

Planets and stars Jyotish. Jyotish is the Sanskrit word for astrology. And we want to be born with a particular imprint from particular stars and planets that are going to, even when we grow out of our parental control, after we reach the age of majority, then we have the privilege of being able to live a life without having to have constant reference to two governing agents known as mother and father.

We’ll still have the governing agents of the starry world, the planetary world, which will influence us, our Jyotish.

And so when we’re making our calculation about which of the couples to which we’ll be born, we want there to be ripeness for a fetus to be born at a particular time under a particular star set so that we can have that imprint on our individuality that will get us where we want to go, where we need to go in this next lifetime.

[07:34] Gratitude for Challenging Home Life

So these three elements, unfinished business, let’s call that Karma.

Second thing is access to knowledge of enlightenment. Whether we are going to have the good karma of being born into, let’s say, a family of Initiators, mother, and father, both Initiators, therefore, absolute 200% guarantee that I’ll be initiated into the highest level of knowledge by the age of four.

But not everybody has that kind of punya. Punya, P-U-N-Y-A, punya means spiritual merit or spiritual deserving power. That you can just choose to be born to a couple of people who, if one of them forgets to initiate you, the other one will remember to initiate you into spiritual knowledge, probably by the time you’re three or four years of age.That would be a fabulous birth if you can attain to it. But maybe you can’t attain to that. Maybe you have to have grumpy, neglectful parents who are going to make life at home so miserable that all you can think about is, “Let me go online and see where I can learn something that’s spiritual.” And then you come across a number of approaches, one of which leads to Vedic Meditation.

And then, who do you have to thank for that? The people who drove you out of the home because it was so miserable at home. At least you didn’t become a materialist, thinking that having stuff and being attached to objects and things was going to be the answer to life.

[09:20] The Curse and Blessing of Materialism

One of the curses, all of the very wealthy people who I know who were born wealthy, there are two kinds of very wealthy people. People who weren’t wealthy at birth but became very wealthy. And then there are those who were born wealthy.

The ones that I know who were born wealthy consider it to be a curse. Because, it took them a much longer time to transcend the assumptions of materialism being the answer, and then before they realized there was something underlying all of this, that fulfillment didn’t lie in having houses and yachts and objects and being able to pay hundreds of people to smile at you all day and say yes all the time.

But fulfillment lay in the experience of transcendence. So materialism can be a curse. It could be a blessing, too, if spirituality is mixed with it.

So you see, there’s so many different factors that we have to take into account. Now, as for your particular situation, should you do this? Should you do that?

The thing is that we have to default to a certain duty that we have, that I’ve discussed elsewhere in a podcast called Mata, Pita, Guru.

Mata means mother in Sanskrit, Pita means father, and Guru means a teacher.

We do have a certain responsibility to do our best to be of evolutionary assistance to those who went to the trouble of feeding us when we were hungry, keeping us warm when the weather was cold, and keeping us cool when the weather was hot.

Those, in other words, who provided our basic needs when we were growing up.

[11:24] Parenting Our Parents

If those happen to have been our parents, then there is a certain indebtedness we have to making sure that, if called upon worthily, we’re available to assist.

It doesn’t mean we have to be a dogsbody to any call, whether worthy or not. No, we have to use our discrimination. And there is an extent to which we have to parent our parents.

For those of us who practice Vedic Meditation, in most cases, not every but most, it’s unrealistic to expect your parents to become wiser than you in your parents’ lifetime. And so let go of that expectation.

But if it’s true that you happen to be already wiser than your parents, that is to say, your capacity to give wise and trusted counsel is greater than that capacity of those who had primacy in your upbringing, then you can relax. You are not alone.

But it does mean that if called upon to be the bearer of wise and trusted counsel to your parents, then it’s incumbent upon you to be available for that.

And that means, and I can sense from my questioner’s question, that you’re going to have to maintain an open line of communication to them. You can’t cut off the communication line. It’s not as simple as that. There’s some karma that’s going to require you to keep the line of communication open.

Sometimes it’s valuable to keep the line of communication open, even if garbage is coming down that line. You may find that garbage is coming down that pipeline of communication, and, as a meditator, you should be able to filter that easily and not be affected by the garbage.

But to cut off the line of communication is, in most cases, not every, but in most cases, not a wise decision, because you did make an agreement to be parented by these people on the basis of them being able to give you an existence from which at least you could reach out to the body of knowledge that gave you spirituality.

And we do have a debt of gratitude for whatever it is that they brought to the equation, even if they couldn’t bring everything.

[14:13] The Gift of Enlightenment

So they’re not perfect. You are not perfect. Thank goodness for that. And let’s be open to loving their sometimes petulant, childlike quality. And if we have to be parental to them, let’s not grumble about that because, after all, we are not completely free of responsibility for the experiences that we’ve been having.

And if there is outreach to us down that line of communication, that into which we could input some degree of wisdom, then we have to be available for that. It’s our, it’s one of the things that traditionally always, we have to pay attention to.

The greatest gift that we can give to anyone, including those who had primacy in our upbringing, we’re calling them parents, the greatest gift we can give is for us ourselves to accelerate the speed with which we gain enlightenment.

Let’s not make the responsibility for wise behavior solely the responsibility of our parents. Let’s ourselves gain enlightenment as soon as possible so that we can transcend the rubbish that might be coming down the lines of communication and capitalize on the opportunities that might be coming down the same lines of communication.

We needn’t have this idea that my life and my experience is governed by somebody else. This is simply not true. You’re responsible for your own experience, so we need to grow up and become mature, enlightened people, and be available for worthy inquiry whenever it appears, from whomever, including our parents.

Jai Guru Deva.

[16:29] Q-How to Inspire Stubborn Child’s Knowledge Without Force?

Hi Thom, this is Jasmine from Phoenix, Arizona, and my question for you is how to approach my child, who is six and a half, almost seven, with this knowledge that I so deeply wish for her to know. She is very stubborn, and I don’t want to force, I want to inspire. So please, share any suggestions you might have.

Thank you. Jai Guru Deva.

[17:09] A-Inspiration

Jasmine, it’s nice to hear from someone who is also in the Grand Canyon State, as am I, a little to the south of me.

Jasmine, I think all we’re left with really is inspiration, but especially as regards our children. I have a bunch of children, and I’ve never been able to cajole any of them into meditating, although I would say more than half of my many children do meditate regularly, and have had phases of their lives where they don’t meditate at all.

They’re going through their rebellious phase. And rebellious could mean that children can take even the most sensible thing that their parents are engaged in and decide that that thing is the thing against which they’re going to rebel.

And so I think that really as regards a child of that age, six, seven years of age, from time to time, and I mean, not too often, I would say no more than once every nine to 10 months, you might remind them that it is possible, and this is going to require that wonderful thing which we parents all know about, which we call a teachable moment.

[18:43] Teachable Moment

A teachable moment is a moment where there looks to be either explicit or implicit worthy inquiry about how to feel better, how to experience things at a higher level.

To remind the child no more often than once every nine to 10 months that it is possible for the child to learn her or his — we would call it a word of wisdom — a thing that they can use for doing their own level of meditation. And that it only requires the same number of minutes as the child is in years of age.

Thus, a six-year-old practices for about six minutes, a seven-year-old for about seven minutes, and indeed they have the prerogative at that age either to use their mantra, their word of wisdom with eyes open or with eyes closed, or a combination of the two. A little bit of time with eyes open, a little bit of time with eyes closed, or sometimes eyes open entirely, sometimes eyes closed entirely.

All we can do is continue our own practice, and continuing our own practice is going to benefit us. Particularly if we have a child who doesn’t feel inspired to learn to meditate, then it’s all the more important that we, ourselves are regular practitioners.

I can tell you that life is eminently survivable as a meditating parent, even of non-meditating children, who, it really does underscore the great value in being a regular practitioner of Vedic Meditation oneself, whether or not one has a child who participates. And this is one of those things as parents that always, we are in the business of helping our child find what the child is best at.

[21:05] Encouraging Self-Discovery in Children

If there is going to be any expression of mission with a child, our mission with a child is not to help the child figure out how to earn money so they can pay their rent and maybe pay ours when we are in old age. Or to, a particularly odious habit that parents have of trying to be sure that the child has experiences that the parent herself or himself didn’t get to fulfill in their own life. In other words, that thing that parents are known to do of foisting on their children, a set of experiences that the adult wishes they could have had when they were that age.

This is completely unfair to another human being. Our sole mission as parents of children is not even to get them to meditate. It’s to get them to understand that we are going to help them carry out the research into what they’re best at. What is it that they enjoy doing the most that they’re best at?

And there’ll be some mistakes. “There’ll be some experiments that don’t work out, and we’re going to do those experiments together. We’re going to do the research together. And you don’t have to worry,” this needs to come from the parent about how you’re going to manage to make ends meet “because I’ll look after you until you find the thing that you’re best at.

“Cause I’m certain that once you’ve found it, with my help, that there will always be plenty of abundance because Nature rewards with abundance, those who pursue the greatest charm and make the discovery of their personal role in the evolution of things.”

Like that, this is our responsibility as a parent.

So, for the time being, keep meditation as a solution to problems in the back pocket and continue practicing the technique yourself. And let’s let the child come to us with worthy inquiry when the day comes. The last thing we want to be is a proselytizing parent, as you’ve pointed out, and I’m sure you won’t make that mistake.

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