I often get questions from parents about how to raise children as Taoists or how to use Taoist parenting skills to produce children that are closer to the Tao. The parent is seeking to provide to the child the many advantages he or she has reaped from his or her own practice, for family and self.
The Taoist 4 Ascendant Tradition is 1,500 years old, so the question is not new, and has some well established principles.
- Be a Taoist or place the child into the care of a Taoist, when he or she is of proper age.
- Live as a Taoist, make Taoist decisions, and implement Taoist choices. Children, especially young children, learn most from modeling–absorbing and imitating the behaviors of those closest to them. Your life as a Taoist will greatly influence your child, providing him or her with similar life strategies as you. Please note that if you are not around your child very often, this absorption method will not work.
- Make room for spirituality in your life. Like the example provided by the Hebrew and Christian Sabbath, spirituality must have time dedicated to it. Taoists do not have a Sabbath, because to be a Taoist you must consistently be engaged with the Tao. It is important though to have defined practice periods. A child must see you honoring those practice periods to learn that spirituality is important enough to set aside time for.
- A child should be exposed to the ideas of 4 managements and taught that these ideas are a cornerstone of dealing with the world. This basic approach, if retained by the child into later years, will result in dramatically increased success and happiness.
- Early indoctrination of the child into formal practice or method is not necessary and should be delayed until motivated by the child, in their teens at the earliest. For any person to progress to regulating their life with Taoism, or to make a choice about growing spiritually, he or she must have a cognitive level of development that is not typically met until the mid-teens. A teacher other than the parent should be used if at all possible when looking at formal instruction as the parent and formal teacher roles don’t combine well.
Taoist Approaches for Dealing With Conflicts of Parenting
Past the simple 5 guidelines above, we must move to the basic, conflicting forces that all parents face.
- How Do You Balance Love With Discipline and Boundaries?
- When do I let go? How do I let go? What should I let go of? Balancing Protection with Free will.
Of course, balancing these forces is easier the more you have developed your Taoism.
I will address these balances in articles in this category.
P.S. More in depth Taoist insights can be found in the Free Taoist newsletter.