"When children are taught to appreciate the value of applying themselves to achieve 'a thing well done,' they grow to become adults who know how to find meaning and satisfaction in work," shares Judith Costello and Jurgen Haver, co-authors of Zen Parenting: The Art of Learning What You Already Know. "What we really need to learn as adults, and find ways to teach our children, is that we can feel gratitude for each moment. Often we don't have control over what is contained in the moments of our lives. But we can control how we react to those moments."
Work is Zen
Children who are allowed to enjoy working will grow up to know that all work can be a source of pleasure and fulfillment. Costello and Haver define "work" as "concentrated effort for a specific purpose." To concentrate, whether it is in preparing a snack or making your bed, is a Zen process. In concentrating your whole being on the activity at hand, you stop worrying, judging, fantasizing, or any of the other distractions that create suffering. We become united with the effort and the things we are creating.
Children have a natural ability to merge with what they are doing and be fully. It is best to learn the value of focusing one's efforts on the things at hand during the years of childhood.
Living the Lesson
Children should have "chores" to do on a regular basis. Plan a list of regular chores for every member of the family. Below are some "work" activities that even young children can do and feel they are helping the family.
- Water the plants.
- Scrub the sink.
- Feed the pets.
- Make the sandwiches.
- Set the table.
- Wash the dishes.
- Put laundry in the laundry room.
- Sweep the floor.
Zen Parenting: The Art of Learning What You Already Know is filled with touching, inspiring, and humorous anecdotes of what it means to parent in today's world. This short story format allows readers to easily grasp and apply Zen concepts in their own lives. It offers practical insights into using the Zen practice of non-judgmental awareness to deal with the day-to-day chaos and joy of parenting.