The Right Touch

When it comes to parenting the answer to virtually every question is: it depends.  Everything depends on so many variables, such as our child’s age, developmental level, emotional level, physical health, levels of sensitivity, our own challenges and how they interface with our children’s needs, etc. etc. that no one can really know better than us how to live our own lives or parent our own kids.  Taking the time to deepen our thinking, and strengthen our inter-connections, may help us more than yet another “expert” telling us what to do.

For these reasons, the central focus of this blog, despite whatever “advice” I might dish out, is really in striving to be effective by a) empowering us to trust our own instincts and b) empowering us to parent as our best Selves through connecting with each other and conjuring up empathy and support for each other, personally and as a group.

In this spirit, take a moment and think about whatever is on your mind today—whatever might be weighing heavy on your heart as these words and your eyes meet (parenting or otherwise—after all, if parents are happy kids are freer to be happy).  Maybe today’s concern is about money, love, fear, pain, confusion or sorrow—whatever comes to mind, let it be front and center for this moment. 

Perhaps, without over-thinking it, you might imagine your concern (i.e. fear, sadness) as an object; perhaps something pops to mind, maybe not.  If it’s vague, just contemplate your five senses:  what does your concern look like (i.e. color, shape, size); what does it sound like; what does it feel like (texture, heat/cool, sharp, dull, etc.); and finally what might is smell like and/or taste like?  Let it grow vivid—tangible to the imagination.

Now, use your intuition to decide if you should a) imagine honoring, but then releasing this object into the ocean or burying it in the earth, b) imagine putting it in a very large stew-pot where it will be slowly cooked down and later re-ingested in a way that will nourish and empower you, or c) follow some other imaginal path that comes to mind, whatever occurs.  Take another moment, play it out in your mind’s eye (consciously dedicating the exercise to the well-being of your child or children).

My instinct today is to risk sounding ridiculous, frivolous or irrelevant in the spirit of actually making a difference.  Trust your imagination, trust the universe, trust the group—trust that there are others who suffer, worry, quest and strive—and just like you, those who care about kids and about others—those “anam cara” (or soul friends) who we naturally relate to, effortlessly.  Perhaps your anam cara are friends who live in far off places, perhaps they are spirits of the seemingly “dead” or maybe they are the gathering ghosts of friendship future.  

It’s too bad that we don’t express love more, and more freely for fear of being misunderstood, but one thing we can do, especially in the face of our own dark struggles, is to give more love.  It may be in sending wishes; it may be in calling or emailing a friend who has been on our mind.  It may be in trusting that no matter how our relationships with our kids (and others in our lives) may seem to go off the rails, we can always love within the secret truth of our hearts—no one can stop us from that but ourselves.  Sometimes development hinges on finding the courage (and stamina) to love, even if our love is not validated, returned or acknowledged; children are intermittent masters of teaching this lesson.

My intention today is to not necessarily sound smart or helpful, but rather to actually inspire your own process, trusting your life and your experiences as a teacher, one that liberates you (and me too) from reliance on others to tell us what to do, while at the same time freeing us to authentically connect with each other in ways that nourish us and our collective children.

Finally, no matter if your child is tiny or big, take your feelings of love and compasssion and imagine transmitting your love and infinitely complex spirit to your child through touch.  Take what is ephemeral and make it concrete and tangible to your child, in the form of affection.

Babies benefit enormously from massage (helping immune system, ability to calm, etc.) but even the teen who no longer allows the hug, particularly the teen who thinks for whatever reason that we hate them, have nothing but complaint and criticism about them, who may be shut down from even hearing our words these days (or on certain days anyway)… just imagine a gentle touch, a hand on their arm or shoulder that, like putting love into food when you cook, deftly transmits a message of abiding love into your child’s deeper nerve cells, a firm but fleeting bit of pressure that tells the animal self of your child that you are bonded, that you love them, that you do not give up on them—ever. 

Good parenting is a lot of small right moments strung together.  Think of your favorite “art” film, or piece of music, painting, poem or sculpture that has moved you, think of a touch so interior that only you really understand… and then simultaneously trust that others are somehow able to feel and communally participate in these unbearably light and ineffable moments that hover magically in each of our lives, in the play of light across the afternoon of our children’s faces, in the quiet kitchen moments when we wonder if anybody’s actually out there, feeling, caring, touching.

Sometimes it’s time to stop making any sort of sense and surrender to the crescent moon soft twilit nonsense of our souls, our love, our skin, our noses and our imaginations, seeing and feeling with hearts true enough to free us.

So, let’s dedicate today to right touch, to cultivating consciousness and transmitting the pulsing spirit of our love to all our collective children through just the right touch, perhaps even a touch so subtle that it finds its way into a text, an email, a glance—trusting that we all have good love to give and relishing in the sincere pleasure of giving it.

Namaste, Bruce

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5 Responses to “The Right Touch”

  1. April Says:

    I love this: Good parenting is a lot of small right moments strung together.

  2. chris white Says:

    Very beautiful and bold. Thank you for sharing your passion to give love in as many moments as possible. And thank you for the humility you have shown in letting parents know it is up to them and there own natural wisdom to decide what is right. Very strong post.
    Love to hear your comments on my blog and site — EssentialParenting.com
    Seems like we are on the same page.
    Blessings
    Chris

  3. Laurie Says:

    Once again Bruce, a perfect post. I used to date a gal from Las Vegas, her parents were teachers as not all who live there are pit bosses and show girls. The family used to talk about the desert outside of town and they would say that if every body that was buried there had a candle it would be as bright as the city. The desert being the destination of people who crossed the Mob. So it came to me to bury my worry out in the desert with all the other bodies. There is where it will stay.

  4. Nicole Says:

    Thank you, Bruce, for this post as well as all the others. Your love support and wisdom carry us through.

  5. Jen Says:

    Bruce,
    Thanks, as always, for your soft touch and the lightness it brings. I’ll be passing it along and especially wanted to send it right back to you!
    Namaste,
    Jen

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