Marriage and the Home
By Richard Kieninger
Most marriages in our culture are different from those that existed in more advanced cultures. For example, in Lemurian marriages, women did not marry until after they had had at least twenty-eight years of excellent education and much experience with the opposite sex. Men waited until their early thirties and until they had had a similar education and experience with their polar opposites. Given that kind of background, both men and women were far more likely to be emotionally mature. Furthermore, people usually lived together at least three years before having children, so there was also far more likelihood of having a secure nest for the children, with plenty of love and respect having been established between two intelligent, secure, independent, and psychologically enriched individuals.
In our culture, on the other hand, sexual urges are repressed until rather early marriages, often around the age of twenty, when both partners are not well equipped to earn a good living and are not ready to commit to mature intimacy because of a lack of experience in that area of life. When children are brought into the picture soon after the wedding and usually close together, the unrelenting responsibilities are often more pressure than the already shaky romance can begin to handle. In the U. S. A. at the present time, given that kind of beginning, one out of two marriages fail.
At present, circumstances rarely encourage early emotional maturation. Early intellectual enrichment and abundant contact with the opposite sex from puberty, are not typical in our experience of patriarchal cultures. Both sexes accept the concept of female inferiority; so in the twentieth century, the result is resentment in females and guilt and fear in males who have been raised by women steeped in negative self-images. Let’s examine ways which people reared in a patriarchal setting can overcome early negative conditioning and establish a balanced marriage relationship and go on to establish a family which can flourish in such an unusual positive context.
Marriage is the ideal opportunity for Egoic growth, whereby we achieve both pleasure and discipline. It is a natural desire to be married since our God-given propensity to love and our biological need for sexual expression converge upon one special person of the opposite polarity. Our natural quest for spiritual advancement is served by that desire, for the marriage setting is challenging in the extreme, yet offers the potential for the kind of love which ennobles one in the course of a lifetime.
Marriage in the Home
When romance takes its natural course and both partners want very much to bring offspring into their union as an expression of their love for each other and for life itself, a romantic and enduring pairing of mother and father gives the offspring an example of balanced love and healthy sexuality. What are the possibilities when parents and child are involved in such a positive environment?
The family is essentially the key to society as we see it in Adelphi and the Philosophy of The Ultimate Frontier. Anything that happens in a culture, in a society, is based on what has happened in the family unit—how were the children raised, what sort of ideas were they taught, what sort of character did they build, what sort of example were they shown? If we look back carefully in our own lives, we see that we reflect as adults what happened to us when we were three to six years old. If we think about it, we can remember what many of those experiences were.
One of the most important things that we hope to do is to educate everybody in Philadelphia to have an awareness of the importance of child-rearing and what sort of things people tend to do as a result of the larger cultural background and their own family background. The culture teaches things that we are never aware of unless we compare ours to other cultures that do things in a different way. Analyzing and picking out the good things worth keeping and discarding the undesirable cultural traits will help us get what we want out of life.
People usually regard discipline as synonymous with punishment. Discipline, in actuality, means to teach by example. Most people look upon discipline as something you have your child do because you say so, not because you do that thing yourself. Children imitate what they have seen the parent do, much more quickly than what parents tell them to do; so teaching by example is what actually works.
To help a child develop into an independent, self-functioning person, we can assist him in making his own solutions to his own problems by encouraging him to think and use his own intelligence. In dealing with his environment by controlling his actions himself, rather than some outside agency having to be responsible for that, a child matures more fully into a contributing member of the community.
It’s your attitudes and perspective on life that pretty much determine what you are going to do and how you feel throughout your life. If you have been inured to the sensitivities of life, then you may do things that are destructive to other people but do not bother you a bit. You need to help children see things from another person’s point of view if they have an argument about something. Help them to empathetically see how that other person is feeling. Children are very perceptive; and the more you give them opportunities by asking them questions, the more they can usually come up with the answers themselves. You may find that the Socratic method works well with children. They get very astute at being able to say, “Oh, I think the reason that this child is hitting me is because he’s angry about something or afraid of something I did.”
As mentioned above, social stability is necessary for any kind of progress to occur. This is certainly true in the life of a child, just as in the life of any society, that there has to be a stable, firmly-rooted home security.
Starting with birth as an infant, a child has less stress to overcome if he or she remains with the mother immediately after birth. Whether or not the child’s needs are met determines whether that child sees the environment as a positive nurturing place or as a place where he has to be on the defensive. The bonding of the mother and the child allows the mother to intuit the needs of the child as they arise. It allows the child to mature as he is entitled to, to reach out into the world feeling secure in what he has got behind him. There’s a safe base for him to start from, emotional sustenance that can carry him far.
Some mothers who have bonded with their children think it’s even more on a psychic level. There’s a rapport on another level, besides the physical and emotional, that engenders nonverbal communication. The first few hours after birth seem to be extremely critical to this added dimension of exchange between mother and child. More and more, medical doctors seem to stress the importance of the mother and child being together from the moment of birth. If that critical time period is missed, the bonding does not happen. In cases where newborns are removed from their mother, maybe for a period of two or three days, that mother has no bond at all with her child. At that point, establishing a rapport is far more difficult than it would ever be otherwise, and the whole relationship is much more difficult to establish and maintain. Whereas, when mother and child are bonded, and hopefully the father is also bonded with the child, the whole interrelationship is much richer.
Emotional Needs of the Children
Children who are termed “spoiled” are desperately trying to get their needs met—needs that have not been met by the parents somewhere along the way. The child grows older, and yet the need, which could stem from a much earlier time in that child’s life, remains there. And so, in essence, this child is still stuck at that spot, and the behavior that he exhibits is not congruent with the child’s chronological development. Many times parents provide material substitutions for the emotional needs of their child because they themselves cannot meet those needs, because their own needs were not met when they were children. They do not have something there to draw on for their child. It is difficult to give to someone else something you have not received. Emotional needs are possibly more important than the physical needs of a child.
When children’s emotional needs are not met, the behavior they exhibit says, “I’m no good.” This happens on a very subtle level—a child probably could never verbalize that even when he learns to speak, but his behavior communicates it. A child with unmet emotional or physical needs is one who does not like himself. It has not been shown to him that he’s worth liking. Often the love and acceptance offered him later is suspect because his view of his own unworthiness has not been dealt with. Such children’s rejection of others and tantrums, etc. can be bewildering. (If to spare the rod is to spoil the child, then the meaning of “rod” must surely be love)
There is a biological timetable in a young child’s neurological development which Nature has designed to be stimulated in very specific ways at the appropriate time. When mother does not provide nursing, holding, stroking and loads of interpersonal play and attention as the child’s development demands it, neurological development is distorted by lack of this neurological nutrition. The child is emotionally stunted, compulsively starving for genuine closeness, rageful in his non-understanding frustration.
(Less is known about the biological timetable and the child’s needs for the ongoing love and involvement of the father, but at the present time there is a virtual renaissance in this field. Women are forming groups to study their own “father hunger” and many are contributing a wealth of literature about their insights. Some work has been done on the effects of the lack of adequate fathering for males, although at the present time this area of psychological studies presents a new frontier, ripe for those who are in the forefront of research on social uplift)
Children also pick up on double messages. They are hearing what you are saying, but also, on a more subliminal level, they seem to pick up on what you’re feeling. It would be much more beneficial to the child if you could be very honest about your emotions. Possibly, the way you were treated as a child is not something that you want to pass on to your own child. You may try to approach child rearing in a more positive light, yet your instinctive reaction is to “pass on the family tradition.” Your child is going to pick up on that conflict and confusion and he or she is going to feel confused. If you take the time to explain to your child that what you are trying to do is not easy, that it does not come naturally to you, but it is something that you -are trying to do for his or her own good, then you may be amazed at how much the child is able to understand even though he or she may be quite small. Children are fantastically intelligent, and if you sit down and try to explain what you are feeling about a particular issue, you may find that he has already picked up on the general emotion that you are feeling, but he hasn’t really known where it was coming from or if he was responsible for it. It’s very valuable to a child to experience clear congruence between your actual emotions and your accurate acknowledgment of them. To say that nothing is bothering you when there really is something, will convey to a child that words can’t be relied upon and that you are a liar. Similarly, acting like everything’s just fine when it isn’t, conveys to the child that you are insincere. Parents who are otherwise quite conscientious, will not be able to elicit complete trust and respect when their words and actions belie what is obvious to the child. To learn how, with honesty and simplicity, to explain concerns, pays off in closeness and a lack of destructive game-playing in the home.
In the United States, it has become traditional that males, particularly, hide bad feelings. It is expected that they be mum about their own personal difficulties. However, it’s important for children to know, because of their fathers’ verbalization, that the things that the children are feeling are true, and thereby they learn to trust their instincts. Boys, especially, in our culture need to have the male role model of expression of feelings in order to learn that it is okay to have and express feelings. Furthermore, children can be helped to learn to identify feelings and maybe even give them a name, so that somewhere down the road, if one is feeling a certain thing it’s not going to be some indistinguishable churning that’s going on inside that makes one react in a certain behavior.
An essential part of education that we do not learn in schools in our culture, is training in parenting! The few courses there are in parenting are not taught in schools. Part of what it takes for a person to be an effective parent is development of-his or her own personality. When our own self-identity is strongly established we know that we can take care of ourselves in this world and that is assured through education and life experience. One needs to have such knowledge before one takes on the responsibilities of parenting. When parents have waited to marry until their early thirties when their own basic needs have been met, then the odds are better for having a much stronger base for family. Incidentally, the danger of having children after thirty is not a consideration if you are mindful of the nutritional needs of your body. The diet of most people in this culture is poor; but if you meet its nutritional needs, your body will stay young for years and years.
It’s not what’s happening to you, but the attitudes you have about what’s happening to you that shape what you do and what you are. Therefore, the way the parents feel about being the prime examples of role models for a child determines whether they see that responsibility as one they are going to have trouble with or as one that they welcome. Those attitudes are going to have a big influence, not only on what they do with the child, but also on the amount of success they have.
Expectations and Confidence
Expectations can open doors or set limits. Through your perceptions of what your parents expected of you, you became that expectation. Just as you fulfilled your parents’ expectations your own children will do the same thing. It does not have to be something that you verbalize. Your children will pick up on what you’re expecting. If you are expecting them to succeed, or if you are expecting them to make mistakes, they will make this a reality in their lives. Children inherently and subconsciously want to please. Your expectations do shape your child. You may limit your child because an expectation might not be taking into consideration all of your child’s potential. It is not enough to judge your child on your own experiences and your own life. Your child is a separate individual, and not a part of you. Parents have a tendency to, in essence, practice sorcery on their children because of the mental images that they hold in their mind for this child. If you expect your child to get hurt or get sick, your child will probably get hurt or get sick, and by your mental in ages you have assisted bringing it into your child’s environment. If you expect him to be stupid or a klutz, that is what you will get. If you expect competence, your child will exhibit just that.
Expect that when your child’s body is hurt, it will heal itself as nature intended it to do. Convey this to your child so that he does not think it’s the end of the world or panic if he suffers a cut or some other kind of wound. Help him realize that his body was designed to heal itself without any conscious effort on his part. He need only allow it to heal, and you too must allow it to happen. In essence, you arrange the child’s belief structure by what you believe for him or her. Many children are “taught” to get a cold if they go out in the rain. But cold viruses don’t come in raindrops. This holds true for other cultures where children see adults they know walk over hot coals. They see it done and know that they can do it too.
If people realize that on an Egoic level they chose their parents and that their children chose them as well, it tends to give those people more confidence. Parents are chosen in spite of their human imperfections and frailties. Enjoying your child is very important, too, because if you are having a good time, he or she will pick up on that acceptance. A different attitude is conveyed to the child who hears his or her mother telling someone that she is glad school vacation is over so she can have some peace and quiet, than to the child who hears his mother express disappointment that her child will be away from her most of the day, now that school is starting.
Extended Families vs. Isolated Nuclear Families
Creating an extended family is a positive way for families to gain role models, find alternative ways of doing things, and gain reinforcement of what the children are learning in the home. The parents cannot be everything that a child needs. By having a close community, children can feel free to go to other individuals and learn the things that they have to teach them.
Transmuting Negative Influences From the Culture One influence that is prevalent in today’s homes is television. A responsible family comes to grips with that issue. If children are exposed to violence, aggression and the negative aspects portrayed on the TV screen, it tends to deaden their sensitivity and compassion. Many people think that children love horror stories and monsters. The images portrayed in most nursery rhymes are horrifying if you read them from a little child’s perspective—from the view of someone who is just starting to look at life. There are popular children’s movies where three-year olds who are watching are screaming. The content of children’s nightmares are evidence of their trying to deal with such frightening images for weeks afterwards.
Perhaps the saddest thing that children have to deal with in our culture is the disrespect they receive from their own parents. In laundromats and grocery stores, parents display harsh and insulting behavior that they would never display to their friends. Chances are that the parents would not have any friends if they were to treat them like they treat their children. For many parents, it will take years of working with their own attitudes to learn to respect children. Being disrespectful of children and their needs teaches them to be disrespectful and inconsiderate of other people’s needs and rights, particularly of children younger than themselves. In contrast, gentle respectfulness shown a child pays off later, when those things are reflected back to the world in a positive, loving person.
Couples who have a romantic and harmonious marriage union are far more likely to have the ability to meet their children’s physical, intellectual and emotional needs with respectful and nurturing consideration. In turn, because their needs have been met early, those children will develop a compassion for people who may not have their positive way of looking at things nor their development in many areas. If, as they grow up, they encounter negative, aggressive, ignorant individuals, they will not feel compelled to react in kind but will be considerate of the other person. Such compassionate people can regard others who are less secure than they are with understanding. Interference in others’ rights, apathy, cruelty, and the need for power over others will be as foreign to them as love and romance, intelligence, brotherhood, and a quest for growth are natural to them.