When we planned our parenting strategy---which is to say when I planned our parenting strategy and announced it to my husband---we settled on Positive Parenting, which incorporates the principles of natural and logical consequence/discipline over punishment.
In case you aren't familiar with natural and logical consequences:
Ask yourself what would happen if I didn't interfere in this situation? If we interfere when we don't need to, we rob children of the chance to learn from the consequences of their actions. By allowing consequences to do the talking, we avoid disturbing our relationships by nagging or reminding too much. For example, if your child forgets her lunch, you don't bring it to her. Allow her to find a solution and learn the importance of remembering.
Often the consequences are too far in the future to practically use a natural consequence. When that is the case, logical consequences are effective. A consequence for the child must be logically related to the behavior in order for it to work. For example, if your child forgets to return his video and you ground him for a week, that punishment will only create resentment within your child. However, if you return the video for him and either deduct the amount from his allowance or allow him to work off the money owed, then your child can see the logic to your discipline.
The idea is to help our children see the train of consequences from their actions, and to understand their own responsibilty therein. The long-term result is that they develop their own, solid, internal morals and ethics.
This, my friends, is parent-invoked karma.
That's because karma isn't some dogma coming back to bite you in the ass.
Karma is the sum of who you are and what you do (past, present and future)---the actions you take; it's the theme-song for you. You are responsible for the actions you take and the effects of those actions, on yourself and others.
In fact, actions are another key component of positive parenting
Action, Not Words
Statistics say that we give our children over 2000 compliance requests a day! No wonder our children become "parent deaf!" Instead of nagging or yelling, ask yourself, "What action could I take?" For example, if you have nagged your child about unrolling his socks when he takes them off, then only wash socks that are unrolled. Action speaks louder than words.
This concept is within Christianity; it simply goes by other names, such as God. And, luckily there is Love and Forgiveness, offered through us, to us, from us, and from God (or, in this case, karma).
But not always.
There's the girl who conspired with another girl to fake an affair with my husband (then boyfriend) in order to get us to break up. Later, I heard she dropped out of the master's program and got some mysterious disease that caused all of her hair---her pride and joy---to fall out. Instead of any kind of sympathy (much less love or forgiveness), I gleefully cried, "Ha ha! KARMA!"
There's the time we moved to Texas from Massachusetts and suffered so many setbacks, crises, and tragedies that I decided I must have been a serial killer in a past life. Or a politician. (Or never, ever meant to live in Texas.)
Or the Enron guy dropping dead.
I'm waiting to see what Scooter Libby gets, besides a justifiable conviction and an unjustifiable pardon from his bedmate Bush. (And the "karma" there, I suspect, involves a further pun about bed: he's made his bed and now he has to lie in it.)
But this isn't really karma. It's the Western mind misapplication of the concept of consequence, which we always, always perceive as punishment of the worst sort we can imagine under the constraints of reality. That's not karma.
In the case of the bald girl...the real karma there was that she behaved dishonestly and dishonorably, and truly hurt two people. It stains her soul, what she did and how it affected her and those around her. That's karma.
In the case of the move, bad things weren't happening because we were (or had been) bad people. The bad things were a result of decisions we---and others---made. How we acted, what we did, the people we were within that situation is what factored into our karma.
The Enron guy dropping dead...now that probably was karma. (Just kidding!)
And Libby? He put a family, including innocent children, into mortal peril. He chose, even if it was at the behest of another, to reveal information that leaves a lifelong danger for the family of Valerie Plame. That's a part of him now, who he is, his makeup.
Karma isn't fate. It's your free will and what you do with it, because that comprises the sum of all the parts that is, was and will be you.
But after that, karma and I part ways. At least, the Western New Age idea of karma and I part ways
Western New Age reinterpretations of karma frequently cast it as a sort of luck associated with virtue: if one does good or spiritually valuable acts, one deserves and can expect good luck; conversely, if one does harmful things, one can expect bad luck or unfortunate happenings. In this conception, karma is affiliated with the Neopagan law of return or Threefold Law, the idea that the beneficial or harmful effects one has on the world will return to oneself. Colloquially this may be summed up as 'what goes around comes around.'
I can't explain it, why bad things happen to people. I don't know why some people receive the challenges they do. I don't believe it's because they've put so much bad out there that they deserve a bad thing. I don't believe it's because they are somehow bad people, or paying off a karmic debt.
I'm also not able to ease my worries (or someone else's) by saying, "Ahh, Terrible Fatal Disease befell you. It seems bad, but because you are a good person, in some way this must be a blessing."
And when bad things do happen, or justice is lacking from a harmful situation, I feel a burn inside me. I like to see obvious consequences in the short term. I want to see justice served.
I'm the sort of person who notices injustice. I catch it, worry about it, and feel a desire to interfere...to bring about justice in some way: fix it, and punish. I carry the knowledge of injustice like an albatross.
For a long time, I bitterly kept count of events such as the girl's betrayal, how the moving company "got away with" ruining and losing all of our furniture and belongings, the unfairness of how certain so-called charmed people such as executives and politicians "got away with" operating outside the rules and laws the rest of us must follow or be severely punished.
I had to let these go and accept that sometimes in the case of injustice---as with the rest of life---there is a fractal in the chaos, and I may not be able to see or discern it, but I must have faith it is there.
Ultimately, I came to believe the most tremendous justice available is at some point becoming completely and utterly aware of all you have done and what it has wrought. In this, and only in this, can we cry out for true forgiveness and love. In my faith, you receive it, at least divinely, and in my opinion, once you have, you are able to offer it, too---sometimes stutteringly like a new walker and other times as gracefully as a dancer.
We all have different beliefs about how or when this cognizance and forgiveness happens. Dickens provided Scrooge with ghosts, Christianity provides a God of judgment and forgiveness, Buddhism and Hinduism provide karma.
In the end, I think it all boils down to one salient point that wraps up honor, ethics, morality, forgiveness, and yes, most especially karma
become mindful of the effects of desires and aversions
In truth, what I most hope in each case of injustice---when desires and aversions create harmful effects, whether it is personal or public---is that there is a tremendous moment of awareness, of awakening. I believe it must happen, at some point in some way. I believe we continually get the opportunity, and if we are mindful we know it. If we are even more mindful, we are also aware of where we end and another begins, so that we accept only that which is within the effect of our choice, and do not take on false responsibility for another's choice.
Positive parenting. Actions. Natural consequences. Logical consequences. In fact, two more aspects of positive parenting apply here
Give Children Appropriate Ways to Feel Powerful
If you don't, they will find inappropriate ways to feel their power. Ways to help them feel powerful and valuable are to ask their advice, give them choices, let them help you balance your check book, cook all our part of a meal, or help you shop. A two-year-old can wash plastic dishes, wash vegetables, or put silverware away. Often we do the job for them because we can do it with less hassle, but the result is they feel unimportant.
Seperate the Deed from the Doer
Never tell a child that he is bad. That tears at his self-esteem. Help your child recognize that it isn't that you don't like him, but it is his behavior that you are unwilling to tolerate. In order for a child to have healthy self-esteem, he must know that he is loved unconditionally no matter what he does. Do not motivate your child by withdrawing your love from him. When in doubt, ask yourself, did my discipline build my child's self-esteem?
When we feel power and control in our own lives (versus inappropriate power elsewhere), when we understand the natural and logical consequence of actions, and when we can separate the deed from the doer (not the sin from the sinner---I don't like that saying, "Hate the sin, love the sinner.") we live mindfully, with good karma.
Karma is the ultimate in positive parenting for our spirits.
Note re. sources: Karma quotes from Wikipedia, and Positive parenting quotes from Ten Keys to Successful Parenting.
That's my take on karma, and how it lives with justice and forgiveness, what did others have to say?
Emily wrote Why I don’t believe in Karma
Snoskred wrote Karma. Or why it's bad to be bad.
Catherine wrote Karma: as American as the 4th of July
Kaliroz wrote "Karma police, I've given all I can ..."
LawyerMama wrote The Litany of Motherhood
Chani wrote Divine Justice?
Mary-LUE wrote The Song Remains the Same, which was more from last week (secrets and lies) but which carries an element of karma, of action...choices we make and the effects they have so it easily ties in with this week.
Sephy wrote It'll come back to bite ya...
I hope I got everyone...if not, tons of apologies, just comment with link or email me with the link. And as always, I'll in other entries any time this week. So feel free if you have been motivated to write and let me know and I'll link you.
To all participants, thank you. Wonderful, amazing posts as always.
copyright text and images 2007 Julie Pippert.