Wednesday, April 24, 2013
The African Tribe
There is a tribe in Africa where the birth date of a child is counted not from when they were born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in its mother’s mind. And when a woman decides that she will have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child that wants to come. And after she’s heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child’s father, and teaches it to him. And then, when they make love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it.
And then, when the mother is pregnant, the mother teaches that child’s song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people around her sing the child’s song to welcome it. And then, as the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child’s song. If the child falls, or hurts its knee, someone picks it up and sings its song to it. Or perhaps the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honoring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song.
In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.
The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
And it goes this way through their life. In marriage, the songs are sung, together. And finally, when this child is lying in bed, ready to die, all the villagers know his or her song, and they sing—for the last time—the song to that person.
So as parents not a member of this particular tribe, I struggle when I have to punish my kids. I ask my self often when my kids do wrong how do I respond? Well it has depended on the offense most times. In my house hitting seems to be quite often the offense, I don't do hitting. I especially don't do boys hitting girls. EVER, my boys are to love and respect women and that love and respect starts with their sister. There is bickering, there is disobedience and those are usually dealt with with time outs and extra chores depending on how old you are.
I have yelled too much, I have spanked, I have resorted to punishments that I have never thought I'd ever do. I am human. I am over worked, under paid, and stretched thin when it comes to this mothering business. I love my children with all my heart and there are some days I want to take a mommy break but in the end I wouldn't change my life for all the world. Still there are times I struggle KNOWING that I've made and are making the right decisions when it comes to molding my children into the people they need to become.
I have most recently had to deal with an incident with my oldest that I never dreamed I'd face. I found myself furious, hurt, scared, and then all I wanted to do was wrap him in love. I didn't want to punish him; no thoughts of grounding, details, sentences, or any other sort of our typical punishments for wrong doing came to mind. I just wanted him to know he was loved. I wanted him to feel safe, secure, and to feel his most magnificent self worth. I wanted him to feel his Heavenly Fathers love as well. I needed him to know that no matter the wrong doing he still had worth, and even still his worth was more precious and costly then any gem or gold in the world.
This response triggered some deep thoughts on my worth and my place in this world. The first was that I really didn't know what I was doing but by darned I sure was trying my hardest to help my little ones turn into pretty spectacular big people. That as human as I am, even my self worth as a person, daughter, and mother were equal to my own children. I wasn't worth more or less and that in our Heavenly Fathers eyes we are all his children and worth every effort that He has put into us. I KNEW my children were worth every piece of my heart and soul I poured into them. What I was having trouble feeling, was that I was worth every piece that MY parents and Heavenly Father had put into me.
So while I try to repair my skewed view on my own self worth, I'd encourage everyone to find peace. KNOW that you are worth every bit of heart and soul that were poured into you. If no one else, your Heavenly Father sees your worth and He pours every piece of his divine work into you because you ARE worth it. Especially when we make mistakes.
I wish our society could adopt some features of that African tribe, that during crucial life experiences and transitions, we are shown more love then disappointment. You know though when you are in tune with who you are supposed to be and when you are not. When you are feeling on top of the world, you are more closely in tune with who you are supposed to be, when you are feeling awful then you are not.
Sing your song, keep singing it even if it's out of tune in parts...A great musician recognizes when they are out of tune and makes adjustments to be in tune by the end of the song.