I am not a parent so I should probably stay in my own lane when it comes to the topic of child rearing. But since Authentic Living IS in my lane, and I recently heard a lecture about authenticity and child development, let’s call this blog parenting-adjacent.
Living a Truthful Life is really at the heart of my work, both personally and professionally. In Ayurveda, it’s a fundamental ingredient for longevity and health. Veda means Truth. AyurVEDA means the Truth of Life. When natural, organic development is inhibited, it creates a fissure between the True Self and a Presentational Self. That fissure is a breeding ground for health degeneration.
The lecturing scientist offered this message to parents:
You do not get to design/engineer your kids.
There is a popular notion that a child is a blank slate onto which a parent can write and somehow engineer personality, sexual orientation, IQ, and academic achievement skills (to name just a few examples).
But Nature would never have permitted that to happen. Evolution would not have allowed a generation of a species to be so influenced by a previous generation. Your child has over 400 psychological traits that will emerge, and they will have nothing to do with your brand of parenting. (Don’t shoot the messenger!)
The better view is that a child is a unique, genetic, mosaic of your extended family. And a parent’s role should veer more towards the direction of being The Shepherd rather than The Engineer.
Shepherds are powerful people! They pick the pasture where the sheep will graze, develop, and grow. They determine whether the sheep is appropriately nourished and protected from harm. And while the environment is important, it doesn’t design the sheep. To put it another way, a shepherd will never turn a sheep into a dog. And, by the same token, no amount of hetero-normative influence on me (parenting, media, government, church) in the ‘60s and ‘70s would turn me into a straight guy.
As yogis, we understand that deep within meditation and a mindful Hatha practice, we are shepherding our journey toward the True Self. We plant a Sankalpa/Intention deep at the root, the Bliss Body, where all other voices are silent. Then, when we are awake, we can reinforce the Intention at the level of the surface mind. And yes, at this surface level, we can also “engineer” our destiny through efforts like study, networking, and choosing relationships. As adults, we are at once Shepherd and Engineer of our own destinies.
OK, so maybe playing classical music to your uterus whilst pregnant will not guarantee the birth of a genius according to hard science (The Mozart Effect).
But now that you are an adult: in your home, in your relationships, are you creating an environment that shepherds your own authentic evolution and unfoldment? It’s a lifelong process.
And your health depends on it.