Parenting God’s Child on God’s Terms
by Jeff Morgan
I don’t know what I am doing and I can’t give you any answers…
Let me start by saying I am a student of parenting. I am a novice at best. I agreed to write an article and parenting showed up for me to write about because it has been an integral part of my spiritual practice lately. This article is most certainly not to tell you about parenting or how to do it correctly, but simply meant to be a reflection on what I have learned so far: the good, the challenging, and the transformational.
I am not in control, I am in cooperation…
One of the first lessons I learned as a new father is that I am not in control of this process. When we discovered that my wife Magali was pregnant, all of our ideas of waiting another two or three years were called into question. Every time Magali and I had discussed children it sounded so good to say we should wait two to three years until we were “ready.”
For me “ready” has become as hollow a concept as “purpose of my life”. The truth I have found is that “ready” is what I am in every moment that I choose to be present with what is and the “purpose of my life” is to be here right now doing exactly what I am doing. I find that people like me use terms like “ready” or “purpose” to either justify inaction, or to attempt to rationalize a feeling that something is not working, or to justify judgment/artificial comparison with what is. It’s not worth it. I tried it…a lot. It is not worth the effort.
So, I started the pregnancy process first by realizing that I was ready and then by banging my head against the wall trying to solve the problems that seemed apparent: We can’t raise a kid in a crappy one bedroom; I can’t keep working so far away for so little pay; and how were we supposed to afford Magali not working?
For me the shift came when I heard Luka’s heartbeat. My focus became simple and my fears became clear intention. The Soul that was coming in (we knew back in April 2015 that he was a boy and that his name was Luka with a ‘k’) had a plan for how he needed to be raised and we needed to go into participation and cooperation with this higher process. Cooperation seemed to be the key.
By the time we entered the third trimester of Magali’s pregnancy, the following had occurred: Magali got a new job where she could work at home; we found a house to share with Magali’s family that we could somehow afford to live in; I got a new Job at a better pay walking distance from the house; etc. etc. etc…
Part of discovering that I am not in control was also finding that many of the declarations I had made (as they often tend to be) were proven false in the most hilarious ways. Case in point: cutting the umbilical cord.
I never understood why the father was meant to cut umbilical cord. I figured that I’m paying thousands of dollars to a person educated on how to safely do medical procedures—so why would I do it? That’s what I was paying her for, right? When the baby finally came I was awestruck and kind of drunk with the moment. The doctor held up the cord and handed me the scissors and seemed like she wasn’t really asking if I wanted to. This was simply my job for some reason, and I performed it with no questions asked. I didn’t have time to argue.
There was and is a higher plan in play that was and is beyond my awareness. Clearly someone or something continues to be in control and know what they are doing, and it most definitely isn’t me. So, the key continues to be cooperation and trust.
If you can’t beat ‘em, love ‘em…
Part of the home Luka created for his first years involved a larger-than-average family-to-house ratio. In addition to Magali, Luka, and myself, we moved in with Magali’s parents and brother.
Needless to say, I tried my hand at changing them to match how I wanted us to live. I also tried controlling how they behaved. I also tried judging how they think.
While I am quite adept at building a case against people that bother me (I’m a lawyer after all), the approach was not working for me and not working for the house. There are inevitable growing pains and adaptations that have to take place to make any living situation work. There are also things that we simply can’t change about the people with whom we co-habitate.
At a certain point, we recognized that quiet resentment did not work, and we started to love living together. Key was (you guessed it!) acceptance. We could not change each other. We could not “win” against each other. But we could most definitely love each other.
I think that Luka, and the love that we all share for Luka, became a foundation upon which we could build the household. Many friends and family assumed it would fall apart and that I would go crazy. At times, with a teenager, a baby, and grandparents all living in the same house (plus five cats that didn’t really all get along), I thought this all wouldn’t work. Yet sometimes our seemingly impossible good seemed to happen.
For me it was bizarre how it happened. One day I was just talking to my mother-in-law and we realized we had lost track of time and had spoken together for more than two hours. It was just for the pleasure of speaking together. Without realizing it, I had started to enjoy my extended family and French co-habitants.
I find it interesting how roles become people, people become friends, and friends become family. The connections seem to grow like young seedlings in the sacred ground of Luka’s life. Inevitably, the old saying that a child is born with a loaf of bread under each arm proves true, but he also seems to bring with him the village he wants to raise him.
Opinions are like noses…
Another area of learning has been around ruthlessness. There were so many opinions and so many projections in play when we would speak to others during the pregnancy and even after the birth. No, I don’t need to hear your story about premature birth. No I don’t need your opinion on whether it makes sense that I don’t want to feed my child sugar. No, we don’t really need your thoughts on why it’s better to formula feed. No, I am not interested in worrying about enrolling him in preschool until I get the ‘green light’ inside of me to do that. Believe me, the list goes on and on and gets more outrageous.
When I first found out Magali was pregnant, every dude friend of mine asked me if I was freaked out about it. No, I was not… Why should I be? There was some unspoken expectation that having a kid would make me freak out about the future. It’s easy to play into other peoples’ stories about pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing and I found and find it important to distinguish between my experience and others’ stories.
Information helps, opinions less so, and listening to the God within the child has been the most helpful. In my experience, if we are missing something, Luka’s High Self has no issue hitting us over the head with what we are missing. So, there’s discipline and trust in there too.
For the guidance that was helpful, usually there was no attachment from the person who gave the guidance about whether we followed it or not. Some guidance was encouraging or challenged our own negative beliefs: “You’re making this very hard on yourself”… “The baby is fine and knows what he needs”… “There may be an easier way of doing that”…etc.” Some guidance was completely inaccurate but so loving that it didn’t matter.
For me, I am not willing to act outside of alignment with our awareness. I am not going to do anything as a parent with Luka that doesn’t check out with Magali’s and my Knowing. The advice might be so good on paper but we are clear that we want to follow the Spirit. Why? Because this isn’t OUR child, this is GOD’S child and we need to raise it in accordance with Spirit’s direction.
He is not just a baby, he’s a little person…
Having a multicultural family has been a valuable awareness tool. It turns out that different cultures tend to relate to childhood and children differently. There’s this notion in American parenting culture that babies have different needs than other humans. To some extent, there is a reality there. On the other hand, we have very intentionally related to Luka as a being who knows what he needs, knows how to act, and often struggles with the same issues we do as adults.
I can remember a specific time when the baby was unable to get to sleep. He kept screaming and crying. We tried leaving him alone in his crib to calm down and nothing seemed to work. I looked him in his eyes and I said, “Okay, show me what’s going on here…” I immediately saw disparate images of an argument and conflict.
I became aware that I had picked up the tension and conflict that had occurred in the house during the day and did not know how to release it from his body. I started to put him on his stomach and massaged out that energy that was blocked in his back. He was still awake and so I picked him up and asked him again what was going on. I saw an image of extreme fatigue. I put him back on his stomach and filled my hands with light, and attempted to charge him full of energy to make the jump into sleep. Within one minute he was in deep sleep.
It’s all very simple, ordinary stuff. It’s the same stuff that we all go through. Why should his needs be fundamentally different than ours? There’s a temptation in our parenting culture to manage Luka’s needs as a sort of chore or obligation, rather than relating directly to Luka for guidance. For me, Luka is not a schedule or a philosophy. Luka is a divine being with something to teach me. I came in first and he chose to come in through us physically; therefore, I have a responsibility and privilege to demonstrate what works on this level and help him get up to speed on things. At the same time, we are both equally students on the same path home to God.
There is a perfect plan and not everything is as simple as a statistic, book, or other comparison would lead me to believe…
I never identified with the concept of “normal.” As a parent, from Day 1 we have been getting told what normal looks like. This can be medical guidelines like vaccines, child development milestones, or it can be behavioral norms that are expected of most children.
It’s tricky to balance awareness of norms for the purpose of supporting the child with awareness that the child has his own plan that is already perfect. For us, for example, if he’s ahead of a developmental marker, that’s great. If he is behind, that’s also great. We can take action on data but we put way more stock in checking inside where he is and if he is communicating that he needs additional support.
Luka, for example, is a considered a late speaker based on the standard development timeline. Magali had an intuition to seek help and now we have found an amazing speech therapist with whom we are really excited to work. We totally align with her way of working and we sense a beautiful connection between her and Luka. The whole process feels very Spirit-directed. We also really have no idea if he is “behind” on any developmental plan but it seems very clear that Luka and Spirit arranged it so that he could work with this person.
There is also always a temptation to compare Luka to other children. I see this thinking as a kind of zero sum approach. For me, I am not concerned about where other kids are because Luka is my responsibility, not them. If they are already reading or doing their parents’ taxes, I think that’s wonderful. For me, each of the children is perfect and has his or her own plan. It’s not important that I understand that plan but it’s important for me to recognize that it’s already perfect.
We have really gotten clear that we can take action on useful information without playing into the story, knowing that Luka, as God’s child, is going to learn and grow on God’s terms and in God’s perfect timing.
I am not missing out on anything when I stay home and serve my family…
When I was younger my definition of Service was assisting Insight and MSIA Trainings, planting trees at Windermere, and feeding the hungry. For Magali, the service we give to family was equally as valid. I struggled being in a committed relationship that I saw as limiting my ability to do “real” service. “Does she even know what it means to be a minister?” I would naively pontificate, as if I really knew what being a minister looks like. I had learned a very clear definition of what it means to be a minister and what it means to do service and it did not involve staying home. I resented being kept from “Serving,” as I understood it.
As time has gone on, I have realized that for me Service is in the loving, in the devotion, and in the Spirit rather in the outer expression or form. I am a Minister when I serve that which is, or the person who is in front of me, even as I would serve J-R in gratitude for being given the opportunity to serve him. While I still love to serve out in the world, I have come to understand that there is a beautiful and sacred ministry at home.
Since having Luka, I have experienced some of my most profound spiritual work, inner awareness, and experience of Service. It was not through my “Service” out in the world but rather by recognizing, accepting, and cooperating with my ministry to my family. I realize more and more that I never have to worry about missing anything because God places in front of me that which I am meant to serve. Perhaps this is because I am especially dense and need obvious signals from Spirit—but I have a suspicion that others can relate from their experiences to what I am sharing.
I am constantly humbled by the level of service and devotion Magali shows in her relationship with Luka. What higher calling than raising God’s child? What higher calling than serving God in my family members?
Parenting is healing and healing is parenting…
I remember the specific moment when I forgave my father and my mother for everything I might not have liked about my childhood. Ironically, the moments of forgiveness were not moments of profound emotion or confrontation with my parents. It came down to the simple realization that they did what they did and my relating to it as less than perfect is not only untrue, it limits my life.
For my father, I remember a time when I called him at 2AM when I was 18 and in the middle of a crisis inside of me. I hadn’t had a real conversation with him for several years following the divorce with my mother. I was desperate and called him because no one else was answering the phone.
For some reason, the fact that he picked up the phone and spoke to me, no questions asked, after years of avoiding conversation with him, was enough to forgive everything. I realized that this is one of only a few people on the planet that would take my call at any hour and give to me unconditionally. In that instant, all was forgiven and I was free of that.
Recently, I was talking to my father when he shared a perspective about mistakes he had made as a father to my older brother. I disagreed maintaining that he had done a perfect job with us and that it doesn’t serve my brother for him to perpetuate this mythology that my brother or his upbringing were less than perfect for my brother’s growth and learning. It would be better to support him in seeing that all of it happened to support his learning, growth, and path to God. Put simply, nothing happened to him and it all happened for him.
He continued to argue and I finally said to my father with some degree of frustration, “Listen! Inside of me there is nothing between us in a negative way and nothing in the way of my loving for you, and if I ever hear about you using how you raised me against yourself, I am going to kick your butt because that doesn’t serve either of us and does not align with my experience.” I meant it. Why would I let a false notion of what childhood “should” have been stand between me and God in him?
To be clear, forgiveness does not mean no lessons learned. There are things my father and mother did, for example, that I may choose not to do in my relationship with Luka but I can choose that path in gratitude to my father, for example, for demonstrating why certain things don’t work so that I don’t have to. At the same time, with this clarity between us, I see the beauty of my father’s devotion and service to God in all people, and I am brought to my knees with loving and humbled by the beauty of who he is and I am honored to know him.
I am aware that forgiving my parents and loving them for who they are makes me better able to align with Spirit as a parent. I am aware that there is a simple and beautiful freedom in deciding that nothing will come between me and my loving (God).
Because I have already made it okay that my parents did what they did, I can really make it okay to do what I do. I don’t have anxiety about being a bad parent; rather, I choose devotion toward Luka with the same loving devotion and excellence I try to bring to everything I do.
I call Magali “La Femme de ma vie” which would be like the “Love of my life.” I call Luka the Light of my life. From the very beginning, there was never a sense of heaviness or obligation with Luka. It continues to be light and joyful with him. I still get butterflies even thinking about Luka’s smile when he sees me. I hope I never lose that gratitude and that Joy.
As I listen to Luka’s laughter, I wonder if it is possible to feel more Joy than I feel in that moment. The Joy is almost overwhelming. I remember when Luka first seemed to dance to music that I put on (side note: it was Aretha Franklin because Luka’s got Soul) and seemed to be trying to move to it. I was so overcome with Joy, I could only cry and laugh at the same time.
I also know it may become more challenging to enjoy the relationship as he grows older, especially during the dreaded teenage years. I have had a bit of the “raising a teenager” experience with Magali’s brother in the house and I make it a point, even when he is doing his best to be difficult, to remember to enjoy our relationship (fart jokes and all).
Life hasn’t always been easy and a big key has been gratitude. It’s really during the challenging times that I find it most powerful to ask the question “What is the blessing in this situation?” and allow myself to connect in loving to Magali and Luka inside of me.
It’s really about remembering that I am blessed: blessed to spend my time with people that I love.
So, there you have it…
This was my experience. I know that yours has also been filled with miracles. I also know that it’s perfect just like mine has been. I have so much love and respect for the young parents in our spiritual community. I hope you feel that loving. I hope we can be a support to each other and an advocate for each other’s’ truth. We have a unique and beautiful gift to give ourselves and our children with these teachings. I pray that I remember to thank God for all the blessings he has given me.