This blog started about year ago, when I started to write about my approach of Wu Wei Coaching. I am also a father of two lively little boys. It is difficult job to be a parent, I would say a lot more difficult than working with teams and organizations. The reason for that is, I think, because at home we don’t have professional roles, work times, vacations, processes, career development and all those things that are built to “fool us” to become somebody else than who we truly are. Like Erving Goffman pointed out, our home is kind of like a backstage of a theater. It is the resting place where we let go of our roles and different presentations of our self.
In this post I want to share some insights I had just few days ago about Wu Wei & parenting.
Wu Wei Parenting
Last week I was sitting in a couch, tired, watching my boys playing on the floor. My older son is 5-year-old and the younger one is 2. Usually the older one starts to tease the younger one, who then starts to cry and at some point I have to get involved and separate them. It often leads to frustration and negative emotions for all of us.
However, this time I was too tired to get involved. So, I decided to just observe what happens. I let the situation grow and dissolve by itself, just making sure that nothing dangerous happens.I was surprised to see that it actually worked quite well. I even noticed some things I hadn’t noticed before. For example, it seemed to me it was quite often the younger son who initiated the fight. Even though they have almost four years of age difference, he also seemed to be quite capable of taking care of himself in those emerging little fights. When I didn’t react to his crying immediately, he solved the situation in some other way.
This led me to an insight – I could probably use my theories and experiences of Wu Wei also in parenting! Instead of trying to establish norms and processes that should be followed by these little fellows, I could work with the patterns that emerge. Instead of fixing my mind to what is allowed and what is not, I could adopt to what happens naturally and work with that. Instead of having a fixed idea of what is parenting and what is expected from me in different situations, I could seek for creative viewpoints and develop new ways of acting that are more in touch with what happens in the reality. I could develop a whole new approach to parenting, an approach that works for me!
First of all, this should be an approach that is ethical, in line with my core values, with who I am and who I want to be. In my approach there shouldn’t be fixed do’s / don’ts (apart from what might be dangerous, of course). However, this doesn’t mean that there would be no rules – it just means these shouldn’t be fixed but reflexive. We are deeply interdependent, so I can’t stand outside of the situation and make interventions as an outside observer. What I see happening in my family are complex responsive patterns where I am deeply involved in. Even when my boys don’t behave the way I like I’m probably partly responsible of what happens. Most probably my attitude and reactions against unwanted behavior is actually amplifying it.
So, instead of trying to prevent something I don’t like, it would be wiser to amplify things that I do like. This is basic solution focused attitude – it is easier to gain weight than lose weight. But of course it isn’t black ‘n white. I need to be reflexive-in-action. I need to reflect upon what happens when it happens. I need to reflect upon what I do when I do it. Often that is difficult especially in emotional situations, but this skill can be developed in various ways. It is possible to train oneself to be more mindful and less reactive. It is possible to make unconscious and intuitive more conscious and accessible.
So, this is what I have been thinking recently. I’m just in the beginning of this journey, but feel free to comment if you would like to see more thoughts and development around this topic in this blog! 🙂