Educating the New Generation
Dan Assisi – San Diego, EUA
We can tell the world is at a key inflection point. Everywhere we look we see signs of conflict: tension over racial and gender inequities, disagreement as to how to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, political division that incites violence and intolerance, and, more recently, even war in Ukraine. There is little doubt we live in times of great challenges and changes.
But it is not just in the world outside that we find signs of trouble brewing. In our neighborhoods, communities, and inside our very homes, we also witness tension and conflict. Often, it involves our children. We hear parents speak of it frequently. Their concerns are generally voiced in one of two ways: they either ask “why won’t my children listen to me?” or “how do I prepare my children for the world?” Both point to the same obstacle: we are just not sure how to best educate this new generation.
And it is, in fact, a different generation. Parents are quick to point out their children are not behaving like they did when they were younger or wanting the same things their parents did at their age. So the tension grows… But it does not need to be like that. This is where our understanding of spirituality can truly help us.
When we apply what we have learned in Spiritism to our own children, we begin to see them not just as the natural product of our families but as immortal, reincarnating spirits. As such, we begin to shift our thinking: they are not just a generation that is coming onto this world to be a victim of very complex times. They are much more: they are a group of souls God seemed fit to inhabit this place during this time – for a reason. And that reason is growth, as it often is when God is involved.
But here is the wrinkle: they are not just here for their own growth, as most of us would assume. They are also here for ours. Have you thought about it this way?
Sometimes we, as parents, forget that we are supposed to grow too – even if we already are “grown-ups”. We too have lessons to learn, and they are here to teach them – after all, aren’t we evolving spirits too? We hear a lot about how we need to educate the new generation, but don’t talk much about how this new generation can educate us.
Once we left that marinate for a while, we come to the realization that educating the new generation means changing this one too. We need to change our perspectives and habits to prepare our children for this new world.
So how do we do it? What can parents do today to help them prepare their children for tomorrow?
Here are a few tips on where to start:
It’s their journey, not ours
Here is a simple concept to understand in principle but hard to implement in our day-to-day. We must remember: our children have reincarnated on a journey. It is their journey, not ours. Our duty, as parents, is not to have our children fulfill our wishes, to be who we wanted to be when we were younger, or even to see the world as we do. Our role is to prepare them for their journey, and not for the one we wish they had.
Our job is to keep them safe, not happy
This may seem harsh at first, but we cannot make our kids happy. Of course we want to, but we can’t. They have to find their own happiness. Our job is to keep them safe and healthy so they can have the opportunity to find their own fulfillment. Buying things and catering to their every whim won’t make them happy – it will just make them used to it, which will make them unhappy in the long run when you are no longer around to do everything they want. Instead, focus on making sure they are safe, healthy, and independent so they can have the opportunity to find their own joy.
Focus on principles, not rules
You may have noticed that this new generation doesn’t just do things because you told them to. For that matter, adults don’t either – and that is what our children are: adults in the making growing up in a highly connected and decentralized world. As a consequence, many will resist authority – but they will not resist reason and love, because sharing reason and love mean personal connection on an equal level. So, if you need them to behave or act a certain way, you need to tell them why. A good way to remember that – and get better results – is to focus on principles and not rules. What’s the difference? “You can’t eat ice cream all the time” is a rule. “I want you to keep your body healthy so you don’t get sick” is a principle. The reason why you don’t want your kid to eat ice cream all the time is that it is not healthy for her or him – not because it is ice cream. By focusing on principles, you are making what is important to you clear to them: you care. And you will be surprised: they might quickly understand that eating chocolate all the time is not a good idea either. Principles should always come before rules.
Behavior as an indication of need
Finally, consider that our children – as immortal spirits with their own vast history – are more complex than we imagine. And that complexity sometimes gets lost in translation because they have not yet mastered communication in this lifetime. Therefore, consider that their (mis)behavior is sometimes a way to call attention. Because they have a need for connection they cannot verbalize yet, they break things, they do things they know they shouldn’t because it works: you pay attention. Instead of reacting, try getting closer to them (emotionally) and remind them you care. Then watch them change. Bad behavior is an indication of a need not met.
Of course, there is much more to do than just these few concepts can express. But they can be, nevertheless, a good place to start. And that is our hope: that we, as parents, begin to think differently about how to prepare our children for this changing world – and in the process, also change ourselves for the better. After all, we are all immortal spirits on Earth to grow.
Dan Assisi, is author, Spiritist speaker and is also a strategy consultant and executive coach focused on promoting sustainable change in the field of education. He is a founding member of The Spiritist Institute and of the California Spiritist Association.