I recently heard about a tribe in Africa that celebrates a beautiful tradition and I want to share it with you all.
When a woman can sense that she is ready to become a mother she finds a quiet place where she can sit in silence and she waits until she hears a melody begin to form in her mind and in her heart. This melody is the song she will sing as she welcomes her baby into the world. When the woman is sure of the melody, she comes home and shares it with her mate and together they sing the song to the baby as the child grows inside the mother’s womb. The mom and dad teach the song to the village and when the child is born the entire village comes out to sing the song so that the child will begin to know his/her special melody. As the child grows, the song becomes part of his/her being. If at any time during the child’s life he forgets who he is, someone in the village will remind him by humming his melody. When a person dies, his song is sung at his funeral and never heard again.
I had to ask myself why my heart lit up when I heard this story. I realize that it is because it resonates within me and reminds me that each of us does, indeed, have our own song. It is created when our soul and our body come together and it lives within us our entire physical life. I call this song our ‘inner voice’ and it sings to us when we quiet our minds and remember to listen. Our children have come with their own songs as well and it is up to us, the adults in their lives, to nurture and support each individual melody. I believe that what usually happens is that parents, with the best of intention, try to impose other songs onto their children rather than teach their children how to ‘tune in’ to their own music.
Why and how does a loving, caring parent give her child the message that the child’s song is not appropriate and that the child must listen to outside melodies instead?
One reason is because we do not have the support of a village that appreciates the individual songs of each of its members. There is a great pressure in our society to get the children under control so that they can fit into the mold we have decided is appropriate. As soon as a child starts to walk, realizing that there is a great, big wonderful world to be explored, the sweet, helpless infant morphs into a freedom-seeking child and the dissonance of different inner tunes begins to create outer turmoil.
Parent’s inner melodies become confused with the ‘noise’ of the outside world and we forget how to connect with our innermost selves. The daily stress of life steals our attention and we think we will be happy only when our children conform, behave, and please us. We resort to punishments, time outs and yelling in an attempt to control the pressures oof f modern life. Our own song gets buried beneath the messages that our society gives us: “The most important thing is a clean house and good grades.” I would like to think that our inner melody is singing, “The most important thing is to be joyful and follow the lead of a happy heart.”
Here are some strategies a parent can begin to use to support the ‘voice’ that lives within each child while encouraging her growing explorer to be a cooperative member of society:
The first strategy is to listen to your own song. Make it a priority to give yourself ‘quiet time’ every day, time to soften the chatter in your mind so that it can hear your melody. You might just tap into a few notes at first. Watch and see what happens. You may get the thought that all is well, that you do not have to worry so much, that you do not have to be perfect and that you have permission to take a bubble bath. You might choose not to listen to the evening news and put on your favorite music instead. You might tell the kids to forget the bath and take a walk outside to look at the stars. You might even giggle, thinking that the world didn’t end because you didn’t hear the details about the economy and the children had an extra story read instead of a freshly scrubbed face. As your own song resonates in your heart you might even stop caring what other people think about your children or your choices. That inner voice can become the magnetic pull to remind you of who you truly are.
As you begin to feel your own harmony and connection to who you truly are it will become easier to encourage your children to use their imaginations, to talk about their instincts, insights and intuition. Rejoice in their stories and their imaginary friends. Allow them to share their feelings without judgment or criticism. Instead of ‘fixing’ up their problems for them, learn to just listen as they share their experiences and hear them without pointing out where they are wrong. If they tell you they are not cold, do not wrap them up in scarves and mittens but rather show them where the warm clothing is and allow them to decide when they need it. If they tell you they are no longer hungry, allow them to stop eating and show them where the fruit and veggies are in case they need a healthy snack. When possible, allow your freedom seeker to do things his/her own way. Remember that childhood is a magical time; laugh, giggle and enjoy life through your child’s eyes. Talk about dreams. Take walks in nature. Listen to the birds singing. Watch the clouds change formations. Teach your children that they are each a unique and brilliant creation, filled with great potential. Allow that potential to emerge. Do not drag it out of its cocoon.
Do not let clean rooms and test scores rule your lives. There are few melodies that speak to that. Listen to the songs that pull at your heartstrings. They are about love and connection. They are about appreciating with hearts wide open. Yes, yes, I know you would like me to address getting the kids to clean their rooms and do their homework. I am making the decision that just for this moment we do not have to go there. We just have to give ourselves permission that for this moment in time, we will gently put those worries and cares aside and will take a few moments to sit in silence….and listen to the song that sings within each of us.
I am already imagining the symphony that is playing across this country as each of you begins to tune in…….