Monday, February 9, 2009

Loving logically

When Rose was but a toddler, someone introduced me to a parenting style called Love and Logic. Love and Logic basically teaches you as a parent to allow your child to make whatever mistakes they will make and to lovingly let them learn the consequences of their mistakes on their own, without getting angry or attempting to fix it for them.

I thought it was a brilliant idea. I think it was the first time I was able to relax a little bit about how I parented my children. It was then that I realized that they have to live their own lives and all that I can do is love them through it and teach them to bounce back.

I have tried to use the techniques consistently. Sometimes I am successful at applying them, sometimes I am not. I forgive myself, either way.

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There are times in my A Course in Miracles group on Sunday afternoons that one of us will bring up the topic of other religions. Most of us have backgrounds in Catholicism, Southern Baptist, Buddhism, Judaism, or some other mainstream religion.

We feel that perhaps we've "grown out" of our religious beliefs and tend to lean more towards a spiritual nature than organized religion.

The topic still comes up and much of the time it is frustration at the blind faith that "those other people" have in following the rules or believing what they're told.

Don't we all do that? In every spirituality or religion, don't we all think that we are the ones who have the right answers?

This is when I have to gently remind myself and the other students that we were all there too. We were all believers of an organized religion or belief at one time. Yes, that belief may be different or seem much more enlightened now but even now, we still carry the same strength of conviction that "those other people" have about their own beliefs.

We are all the same.

And we all have our own path that we have to live....making our own choices and mistakes along the way and learning from the consequences.

I wonder if perhaps all of us are on the same path but at different growth points along the way.

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I feel much the same way about my life and my relationships.

I see so many people who believe we're supposed to be a certain way, act a certain way, respond a certain way... but not a single one of us has the same experience.

Even if you or I did the exact same thing, both of us would experience it differently. Perception is very powerful that way.

I was thinking again about the movie I saw on Friday night. All through the movie, the poor girl was trying to learn the "rules". The confusing part was that there were always exceptions to the rules.

Rules schmules!

We all have life that we have to live. We all have mistakes and fucking growth opportunities (A.F.G.O.) that we have to make and consequences that we have to learn from. We all have experiences that we must experience. We all have beliefs that will be challenged, changed, clung to and let go of.

Who are we to judge what another human being experiences in his/her life?

Who are we to think we have the right answer? What they "should" do?

One of the girls in my study group says that we need to stop "shoulding" ourselves. "Should" is a bad word. Who defines "should" anyway?

What are our "right answers" based on anyway but our own stuff! Our own experiences, filters, perceptions, histories... your "right answer" may be the absolute "wrong answer" for me.

My path, my experience, my mistakes, my consequences are MINE. Sometimes the awareness of them stinks and sometimes I am incredibly happy that this life is something I've made for myself.

And I, like my children, am uncovering knowledge and growing all the time.

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Sometimes I like to think of God as a Love and Logic parent.

Allowing us to make what we think are "mistakes" and lovingly letting us learn from the consequences that follow.

Without getting angry or attempting to fix it for us.

Loving us through it and watching all along with a big grin on his face.

15 comments:

  1. T, you don't know how much I needed this post tonight. I can't say much more.

    Be well.

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  2. The thing I always remembered about parenting with love and logic is to make sure my child experienced the direct consequences of their actions, i.e.; not eating their dinner can mean being hungry later because you don't offer them something else to eat.

    In life our lessons are only learned through experiencing the direct consequences of our actions.

    Great post T.

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  3. T, you have managed to put into words exactly how I feel. Thank you. We all need to hear and heed these words. God is so much bigger than we give him credit for.

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  4. I loved this post T, thank you as always for your keen insights. There are so many things you wrote in this post that I tell myself and also things that I needed to hear. I agree with the word should. I would add would and could to that list too. This post reminded me of the serenity prayer.

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  5. Very true on Love and Logic...and yes, it is tough love at some point. I guess, I need to learn more on the 'letting them be and letting them fix it' part, as I most of the time (though not a parent) tend to do things for loved ones.

    I believe in a very loving and forgiving God, yet, the free will that we have and us being responsible with it is the logical part...so with that, yes, we are embracing an almost the same philosophy.

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  6. I LOVE "LOVE AND LOGIC"!!!! I have been both a teacher of it and a student.

    As far as religion goes....I agree that we are all the same and we are all different. We each pick a path that lights our way. My particular path tends to be more spiritual and less organized religion. I am a proud atheist but still find myself inspired by my own inner strength.

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  7. This post is pure perfection, T. A big part of the spiritual path for me is forgiveness of self and others, and the Source I believe in is pure acceptance and forgiveness! More and more I am coming to see that there are no mistakes, just AFGOs!!!!

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  8. "Sometimes I like to think of God as a Love and Logic parent.

    Allowing us to make what we think are "mistakes" and lovingly letting us learn from the consequences that follow.

    Without getting angry or attempting to fix it for us.

    Loving us through it and watching all along with a big grin on his face."

    I believe that's pretty much it, in a nutshell.

    ~Best Wishes~

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  9. You are awesome, T. This post was just what I needed to read this week. I guess I should read Love and Logic. I've avoided it because I always thought it was hardcore right-wing conservative Christian beat your kids stuff but I guess not, huh? (Yeah, I'm not a Dobson fan.) I'll pick it up.

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  10. Awesome post. I try to let my kids screw up and learn from their mistakes, but sometimes I lose patience and yell, and wonder why they haven't learned the lesson they were supposed to learn yet. It can be frustrating. The same can happen between adults. We all have different perspectives. We all react differently to situations. No one is perfect. We're all just trying to evolve.

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  11. "Should" is a bad word. Who defines "should" anyway?

    Only the guilty ones, T, and all of us think we “should”. 

    Can’t be here and not “should”. I think I should breathe. I think I should eat. I think I should get a good night’s sleep. The great thing about “should” is that we determine its purpose. I can watch myself as I buy into “should” believing that I lack or don’t have a choice. Just as readily, I can watch as my “should” (or your "should")reminds me that I defined it and that I can have peace instead of “should”. Now, no matter what my religion, my experience has a holy purpose….now, that’s some holy “should”…..Great post as usual, T. Thank you.

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  12. You can only go so far relating experience to others, they just have to go through the motions themselves. (and failing just like we did)

    That's why parenting is so hard sometimes. We keep thinking we can help them skip over parts we had trouble with, but that doesn't always work, does it. hehe

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  13. Very interesting entry, T.

    I recall a priest telling me that the only truth he know about God was that "God is Mystery." I suppose I would have to agree, though, years after hearing those words, the only prayer I know is the prayer of a skeptic ("Dear God, if there is a God, save my soul, if I have a soul").

    Not to hi-jack your entry but it made me dig out one of my favorite books to find these:

    Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole ploughshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the wind may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guest, an alter for the unknown God. --Henri Frederic Amiel

    Somewhere, and I can't find where, I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?" "No," said the priest, "not if you did not know." "Then why," asked the Eskimo earnestly, "did you tell me?" --Annie Dillard, Pilgrim At Tinker Creek

    It is in affliction itself that the splendor of God's mercy shines, from its very depths, in the heart of its inconsolable bitterness. If still persevering in our love, we fall to the point where the soul cannot keep back the cry, "My God, why has thou forsaken me?", if we remain at this point without ceasing to love, we end by touching something that is not affliction, not joy, an essence, necessary and pure, something not of the senses, common to joy and sorrow: the very love of God. --Simone Weil

    *sigh* I can't find the quote I was really looking for...but it is something about how if it is arrogant to believe that faith will always be with you, it is equally as arrogant to believe that disbelief will be, too.

    A thoughtful entry, T - thank you.

    Oh yes, and as an aside, please let me know if you'll be requiring my break-up services. I'm developing quite the light touch.

    -R.t

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  14. This is such a great post! And it is so very true. God loves each of us individually. Differently. The direction He has for each of us is unique and cannot be determined or directed by those broken individuals who surround us. Why or how would a broken shard know what to do with another broken shard when the first broken shard doesn't know how he got to be broken in the first place? Its craziness! So we 'should' all love each other just where they are...mistakes and all. :O)

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  15. The Love & Logic parenting approach is totally awesome. The boys' mom and I took a Love & Logic parenting class, and she repeated it twice 'cause it improved her parenting so much each time. I highly recommend this class to any parent!

    > Who are we to think we have the right answer? What they "should" do?

    Hm. I've found two primary routes to learning things in my life, and in the lives of those I know.

    First, the most common and the easiest way, is to learn via experience. If we're learning, experience is good. It's up to us whether we learn or not.

    The second way to learn is from others, for example from a teacher. We don't have to duplicate the same mistakes that others have learned, in order to learn about those mistakes. So when other people tell me what I should or shouldn't do, I try very hard to find the value in what they're saying. Now & then I simply can't find anything; they're just too "wrong" for their input to have any application in my life. But most of the time, they're telling me something valuable and I can learn from it without having to go through what they went through to learn it.

    I believe that there are a few "right" answers out there, for sure. There are some universal truths. But I don't limit my advice to those things; I like to just open up & share whatever I think the recipient might be open to hearing. Then my part's done; whether they get anything from what I said, or not, is totally up to them.

    But if I don't offer it, then there's no possibility of them learning anything from me, which is a shame. People are excellent teachers. Sometimes we're even better at teaching than Life is.

    > One of the girls in my study group says that we need to stop "shoulding" ourselves. "Should" is a bad word. Who defines "should" anyway?

    Should can be used as a bad word. It's potential for misuse is high. That doesn't mean it's never useful or appropriate, though. We should say Thank You, for example. We should respect others' rights. We should be compassionate, and generous, and honest. Etc.

    > What are our "right answers" based on anyway but our own stuff! Our own experiences, filters, perceptions, histories... your "right answer" may be the absolute "wrong answer" for me.

    It does happen that one person's right answer is the wrong answer for another, but it's remarkably rare, in my experience. Usually what happens is "you don't know me" is used as outright rejection by the person who wants to do what's easy/exciting/fun, instead of figuring out what they "should" be doing to increase their own happiness.

    From my perspective, of course. :)

    I'm grateful for the people who've shown me lots of "right" answers. I've usually been able to figure out why they were "right". I'm even grateful for the people who've shown me lots of "right" answers that I eventually redefined as "wrong". They gave me something to examine and consider.

    > And I, like my children, am uncovering knowledge and growing all the time.

    D'ya think that, with a wise teacher, you could uncover even more knowledge and growth? In addition to wisdom (which is what knowledge is actually useful for, anyway).

    I'm not a wise teacher for ya, or anything; I don't think I have any particularly "right" answers. I have my thoughts, opinions, experiences, etc. that can be offered as feedback or insight, and there's surely a lot to be gained from anyone's input. But I have known several people in my life who were very wise teachers, and my life was shaped for the better by my ability to trust them and learn from them even when they told me things I didn't particularly want to hear.

    > Sometimes I like to think of God as a Love and Logic parent.

    Me, too! :) That's so cool. I don't think I've ever heard anyone else say this besides me.

    > Loving us through it and watching all along with a big grin on his face.

    Or, often with a frustrated frown, or even an angry countenance if we knowingly screw up. But still with the love, for sure.

    > "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?" "No," said the priest, "not if you did not know." "Then why," asked the Eskimo earnestly, "did you tell me?"

    I wrestled with this a lot when I was younger. It's a fascinating question and the answers aren't readily apparent. I talked about this with my kids just last weekend. :) Cool.

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