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The Law of Natural and Logical Consequences aka Karma

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:
Natural 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.

Logical Consequences

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 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 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.


Anonymous said…
Hey, babe. Missed me --

Today has been a long string of:
"Did you hit your head? What were you doing when you hit your head? Do you think standing on a stool on top of a chair and jumping was a good idea?"

Julie Pippert said…
Oh Dude. I KNEW IT! I scanned comments and email searching WHO IS IT. So not personal, so sorry. I haven't had my coffee yet. I think maybe there is a dogma biting my ass, LOL.

Yesterday was full of what ought o have been Natural and Logical Consequences but was really just Pain in My Neck.
Snoskred said…
I know that can't function without caffeine feeling well.. ;)

Nobody can explain why people get the challenges they do. In some ways I believe it is to make them the person they end up being. Some of the bad things in my life were necessary to get me to where I now am. I wouldn't undo them or change them, not in any way, even though some were challenges that brought me to the brink of losing my marbles and my life, on occasion.

I love Hump Days now.. but the time zones mess with my brain.. ;) I did this on Wednesday my time but it was still Tuesday US time. Confused? Yes, I was.. ;)

kaliroz said…
We are channeling the same brain I think sometimes ...

"Karma is the sum of who you are and what you do (past, present and future)". That's almost what I wrote verbatim in my piece!

I've, honestly, given up trying to muddle out why bad things happen to people. I will never understand. It is beyond my mind. What I can do is offer comfort and empathy.

Great post, as always, Julie.
Julie Pippert said…
Roz, I long ago determined I am not only myself...and that's not as existential as it sounds. I simply acknowledge that I tune into some brain wave that a lot of other people do too. If I'm lucky, I find them.

We may not always plug into the same wave at the same time but it's all within a frequency I think.

That theory is actually as spiritual as my husband gets, and he and I do actually share a brain, which sadly, is down to about 50% power these days.

On the upside, I am over the disappointment of not being as clever, original or unique as I once thought I was, LOL. Because now I see the upside. :)
Julie Pippert said…
Snos, I am so bewildered by the whole time zone thing. That math is too complicated. And yet...somehow, I have to explain it to Patience, who is all into Space and Our Planet right now. I did give it up for the moment and enrolled her in Space Camp at NASA. Let the rocket scientists explain it to her LOL.

I agree with your point about challenges.
thailandchani said…
Julie, the post is finally up. Sorry. It's been a slow morning. :)
Unknown said…
Oh yeah! Natural and logical consequences--that's what I'm supposed to be doing! I keep forgetting and I even took a class in it! ;) (Active Parenting, btw, excellent curriculum)

As usual, this is a great exploration and the tie in to parenting is great. I also appreciated the mini lesson into what the concept of Karma really is.

I burn sometimes, as it sounds like you do, when I see injustice. I still boil over when I think of my friend's husband who cheated on her almost 10 years ago and left her. I know that it is only from my own limited perspective that it seems as if he got off without consequences. I know he has had them, even if I can't see them--they're just not the ones I would give him. There's been no stretching on a rack for example.

Thanks for including my "sort of" piece in the linkage!
Girlplustwo said…
these are remarkable..all the different takes on one issue, as always, our minds are whirling.
Ally said…
"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."

Sigh. This was spot on for me. Nice work.
Christine said…
ok, ally took my quote! Seriously, i loved this take on it. We so look for a solution, a payback, justice, but (like I at said at chani's) these don't always bring the peace we crave. Perhaps looking inward at our own hearts and deeds will bring us to a better understanding of ourselves.
Lawyer Mama said…
Ooh - Julie I loved your take on this as well. And I love how you weaved parenting into it. Natural and logical consequences - that's what I'm supposed to be doing, but I'm failing miserably at it. Please tell me it gets easier when your children are actually old enough to understand the logical connection?

Anywho, on to the real topic. I completely agree with what you say about karma - it is you and what you do. What I completely disagree with is the Western New Age reinterpretation of karma.

I love what you say about bad acts - that they stain your soul. And that actually realizing all you have done and the consequences is the ultimate form of justice. I think that is completely true of most people. Good people who do bad things.

But there are still people out there who are simply and intrinsically bad. Call them evil or sociopaths, or whatever, but those people will never care about their stained souls or the havoc they have wrought on the world. What do we do with them?

There's so much else I want to say. Let's see if I can remember it all.

That girl who faked the affair - what a BITCH! (Sorry, had to get that in there.)

I too tend to keep lists of wrongs against me - well, hell, I talk about that in my post. At some point I think you're right, you have to let it go or it consumes you and closes you off from people and the world. I wish I could see the "fractal in the chaos" though. (Love that phrase, btw.) Or at least have the faith this it is there even if I can't see it.
NotSoSage said…
I've never felt that a bad thing befalling someone who has hurt me makes me feel better about what they did. I don't understand the comfort that people take in what you call the Western reinterpretation of karma. It always looks like vengeance attributed to some higher power.

And, hoo boy, Natural and Logical consequences, yes. But it's complicated with toddlers, I find...or perhaps I'm just not that creative.
Anonymous said…
"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."

Lots of us picking up on this... When one experiences such a pivotal point, it reverberates. My life changed so much for the better.
Sephyroth said…

I posted about my experience with a, well, not so wonderful boss here

Snoskred said…
Space camp? Seriously? I'm jealous.. :)

I have found a couple of tactics with the time zone thing, one is an extension in firefox called foxclocks, and one is this site - - you can make your own personal clock. ;)

Julie Pippert said…
Thanks all for the great comments, discussion and participation!

A few extra comments to you:

M-L, I might be Mr. Rogers-ing life a little but more and more I've noticed, more or less, that what we learn in preschool is largely responsible for our ongoing approach to life. The consequences, taking responsibility, etc.

Ally and Christine, thanks and you know, I think, Christine, that this is what I think. It's that wisdom and edge of control things again.

LM, you don't *really* want me to answer that, do you? Because it would be yes and no LOL. I doubt you are failing. It just feels like it. Trust me, I know how that feels. Maybe I need to blog on this issue. Okay the rest: Obviously I agree with your agreements. And you know, while writing this, I thought about the Bad People, the ones we try so hard to figure out why they have no sense of remorse or guilt. I don't know. I guess that's my faith in karma a little. They create harm but you know, in a way, I think, it really sucks to be them. They don't hurt and oh how awful that is form the POV of someone who CAN feel all of the range of emotions. I try so hard to not keep lists. And to see the fractal in the chaos. Sometimes I succeed. :) Another thing to ponder (that I do) and maybe blog are some of the people I have had around me, harmful people...and why that might be.

Sage, yes, I'd say me too but I'd have to qualify it with "now." Emotional feeling and mental satisfaction were pretty distinct for a while. Yes, PP can be challenging---heck anything is challenging with toddlers. You find a method and then have to find new ones...they grow and change so fast, these kids, and their currency changes too.

SB, I'm relieved to know so many understood what that bit meant. It's a powerful feeling, almost surreal with light-headedness sometimes, a real sense of clarity and understanding.

Sephy, added you in!

Snoskred, yes, for real. :)
Tere said…
What a FANTASTIC post! Love how you discuss natural and logical consequences.
Anonymous said…
I really wanted to participate in this one, but we stayed out of town and my connection is iffy.

As it turns out, you made all the points I would have.

Karma is in the moment. To me it is a mindful choosing of good and the pay off is instant.

We are trying postive parenting, but it's not always easy.
PunditMom said…
It will come back to get Libby. Of that I have no doubt -- you can't do that to someone's family and not have the universe exact a price somewhere down the road.

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