Embrace Each Child and You Embrace Yourself

Co-authored by Jan Jennings & Dr. Darryl Luke Pokea
Emily

…the apparent teacher is also a student and the apparent student is also a teacher… True learning is a state of consciousness that lets everyone’s light shine; all the teachers, all the students, they are the same… Our children are our teachers…. Each time we are attuned to a child we are attuned to an aspect of our own child within. As we each do this, we reclaim our humanity, our light shines and so do our children.

Children must be taught How to think not What to think.
Margaret Mead, Anthropologist

I genuinely believe we have an opportunity to revolutionize how we educate our children.
Lavar Burton, actor, television host, director, and author

We can’t afford to sacrifice another generation of American children to bureaucratic politics. We’ve got to get it done. The future, the health, the life – our nation depends on it and it’s just foolish to think or act otherwise.
Lavar Burton, actor, television host, director, and author

In every adult there lurks a child-an eternal child, something that is always becoming is never completed, and calls for unceasing care, attention, and education. That is the part of the human personality which wants to develop and become whole.
Carl Jung

At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service.
The late Fred Rogers of TV’s “Mister Rogers”

Jan & Her Grandmother

We each know what genuine respect and reverence feels like in our minds and bodies. As we know it, so too our children know it. They continually attempt to show each of us their comfort level with the “matters” of this world. All of us adults have a choice in deciding how much we participate in responding with indifference or with peaceful expansive kindness. Our choices affect our children even more than they do our fellow adults. We each are continually modeling avenues to deal with conflict and stress in our world. The violence in our schools and events of “9-11” all point to the necessity of remaining connected to one another. While we remain conscious of the events occurring in this world, we also can actively reflect on our attitudes, feelings and thoughts. They do “matter” and those matters are easily passed onto the minds and bodies of our children.

Children are particularly sensitive to the incongruence between our thoughts and actions and what we actually say with our words. They are excellent right brain observers of nonverbal subtleties and can tell immediately when adults are conflicted, regardless what they say with words. As a child is exposed to adult conflict, they may not express their discomfort in words very well. Instead they may say, “My tummy is starting to hurt.” They know something is wrong because their right brain, most in tune with their body, expresses its style of knowing through their body. We adults can choose to remain sensitive to these expressions of discomfort in our children. They remind us directly of the effects that stress and conflict have on our own bodies.

Humility is one of the virtues offered by our Creator to be open and receptive to children. Jesus of Nazareth manifested this humility as he invited the little children to come to Him in the midst of His apostles protesting their presence. Humility opens the mind and heart of adults to be able to exchange; to give and to receive, particularly with children. Adults who recognize that the student/teacher relationship is constantly interchanging can also express this same humility. That is, the apparent teacher is also a student and the apparent student is also a teacher. Our children are our teachers. What we see our children doing to one another teaches us as adults what we are doing to one another. They teach us in their play. They teach us how to be their teacher by the way they phrase their questions. They mirror the many opportunities of connecting to one another so that healing restorations in “child’s play” are not lost in fast paced living, stress and conflict.

We can all maintain an open consciousness in our dealings with our children. The mature adult knows that the natural discovery and understanding process in a child is continually interacting with their own self-discovery. When they fidget, complain of body discomforts, behave restlessly, or look away, they are telling us that something is uncomfortable about the situation around them and within them. True adult teachers do not impose more discipline in lieu of such behaviors. They encourage deeper understanding and self-reflection.

The perceptive adult realizes that the state of consciousness achieved both in learning and meditation is a process of the mind observing each moment of experience. An enlightened teacher never imposes, but rather invites children to observe and learn in every situation that develops. They know that these states of consciousness in learning and meditation are one and the same. Both learning and meditation are looking at oneself and the world without any distortion, without any friction, observing whatever happens without contradictions. True learning is a state of consciousness that lets everyone’s light shine; all the teachers, all the students, they are the same.

Each time we are attuned to a child we are attuned to an aspect of our own child within. Our child within is part of who we are. We strengthen this foundation within ourselves, each time we support children and accept who they are. As our children remind us how to embrace them, we are reminded how to embrace ourselves. Jesus of Nazareth said, “Become again like little children.” As we each do this, we reclaim our humanity, our light shines and so do our children.

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Jan Jennings, artist

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