Now and then a subject comes up that captures my attention so much that I have to drop everything—all of my projects and daily plans—to address it. This happened to me today as I read “The Bipolar Puzzle” by Jennifer Egan inThe New York Times Magazine. In this article, Egan investigates portraits of families with children diagnosed as bi-polar/manic depressive. She reveals the day-to-day battles, including explosive fits, sibling trauma, deep family pain, confusing doctor visits, ever-changing diagnoses, and multiple yet mostly ineffective attempts at medicating with Ritalin, Risperdal, Depakote, Lamictal (both anti-seizure drugs), psychotropics, and Lithium.
These stories do not have happy endings.
The painful mental and emotional imbalances that are manifesting in children today are beyond the scope of psychiatrists and medications. As I always say, pain is a call for change, so the greater the pain, the louder the call for change. The common childhood imbalances (diagnosed as ADHD, bi-polar/manic depressive, and hyperactivity) clearly show that significant changes are in order, but the necessary changes are often difficult for parents and doctors to recognize or accept.
Let me spotlight five truths that lead to the kind of disconnect that inevitably results in our children’s emotional and mental imbalances. We must recognize these critical pieces of the puzzle if we are to protect our children and their futures.
1. Love with a capital “L” is the primary ingredient: Let’s understand what this really means. Of course, everyone says, “I love my child.” But few people today recognize that Love is a vibration, a pure current of energy. You give and share Love when your body harmonizes with that vibration. When most people say they love something, what they mean is that either they admire it or would like to be near it to feel more complete, safe, or powerful. To these people, I would say: Do not mistake Love for not mutual need or mutual admiration.
Most people were not Loved properly by their parents so they don’t know what unconditional Love really feels like. How can you consciously give Love if you don’t even know what it is? When you emanate pure Love, everyone around you will receive it. You can amplify this current and direct it as you wish, to connect with others.
In order to tap into the pure current of Love, you must clear the cacophony of combative currents—including anxiety, fear, strain, impatience, and selfish intent. Not an easy task, because most people are wired by the modern world to carry these kinds of currents on a daily basis. How can children possibly be calm and harmonious when they swim in the energetic field of their parents’ inharmonious lives?
We want happy, balanced children, and yet children absorb and reflect their parents and their environments. They carry through their very DNA the experiences of the family lineage just as they do their hair, skin, eye color, height, and bone structure. Let us not overlook our emotional genes!
Love is essential to human development. Add to this fact that the drugs used to correct emotional imbalances don’t actually dissolve pain, but only suppress it, just as a cold suppressant only relieves symptoms temporarily. Human pain is powerful, explosive, and should never be suppressed. Suppression only sets the stage for much more acute emotional pain and mental imbalance down the line.
The only true course of healing is for parents to begin the profound process of dissolving their own emotional pain and social programming, which block the Love vibration from their children. How do you do this? Put aside time every day to reflect on why you act and react as you do. Write down all the social conditionings, inner pains, frustrations, fears, resentments, regrets, and hurts that may be directing your life in both obvious and subtle ways. See how they block clarity and harmony in your life.
Also, you must gradually wean yourself off stimulants (such as white flour, sugars, alcohol, nicotine, drugs, etc.) that you are addicted to and which block free, self-directed choice. If you don’t want your children to be victims of addiction, the change must start with you.
2. We must honor the sacred “fourth trimester.” I adopted this wonderful concept of “the fourth trimester” from the essential parenting book The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff. In the first 100 days following birth, a baby needs nearly constant contact with its mother (or other loving caregiver, if necessary). The baby must adjust from about 40 weeks of total security and warmth in the womb to the lonely world of cribs, rockers, and strollers. Ancient cultures understood that the 100 days following birth are sacred, and in many traditions, such as in Tibet, the baby was never taken out of the hearth of its family home during the first three months of its life.
In our culture, infants are almost instantly thrust into car seats, malls, and strangers’ arms long before they are emotionally ready to absorb the violent energies of the modern world. We argue that our lifestyle makes this a necessity, but too often the price we pay is an emotionally and mentally imbalanced child. As so many parents are discovering, there is no miracle cure—the drugs are not working (in fact, they are highly toxic and cause other imbalances) and therapy can only do so much. The inconvenience of honoring the “fourth trimester” is miniscule compared to that of trying to rebalance a child who has been thrown off balance from the moment of birth.
3. Proper feeding according to natural law is essential: Nature’s design is perfect. Breastfeeding delivers the ideal food to the infant and offers the essential closeness the mother and baby need to share their love and connect with each other’s essence. Granted, women today do not have the purest breast milk and are not always calm when they breastfeed, but it remains the best option available.
Follow up with a proper toddler and childhood diet of consistently clean, unadulterated foods. Feeding your child formula, soy, and rice cereals will lead to gas, intestinal distress, and addiction, which will likely translate to fatigue, moodiness, and hyperactivity.
4. The perils of television are insidious: Watching the occasional episode of children’s shows like “The Smurfs” or “Dragon Tales” is probably perfectly benign in the large scheme of things. But in most households today, the TV is a constant presence. Children are watching shows that cultivate a herd mentality, and even worse, they are absorbing commercials that are filled with subliminal messages designed to program their minds.
I let my own kids, ages 6 and 8, pick among videos that I feel are appropriate and that they really enjoy (such as Annie, The Wizard of Oz, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, and many other movies that are rich with imagination, sharp wit, and good humor). Sometimes, I’ll even find a show they can watch on TV—but only for an episode at a time, to shield them from the barrage of commercials. But I strictly limit them to one show or video per day.
Believe it or not, this does not have to turn you into an overly controlling, “mean” parent, as long as you explain to your kids what the parameters are and, with older children, why you have set these parameters while their friends may have different ones. My kids have always been agreeable to this approach. Children like direction and they like to understand your logic. If you are sensible, they’ll usually appreciate it in their own way—even if they grumble a bit!
5. Video games create and contribute to imbalances: Just about every family in America has video games. The children I know who are suffering from the worst emotional imbalances play with them all the time. Video games are absolutely poisonous: they steal our children’s time, their imaginations, and their energy, and they wreak havoc on their brain waves. If you have a child suffering from attention issues, hyperactivity, or any of the more acute imbalances mentioned above, you must wean your child off video games. The lifestyle that includes video games tends also to include unfit foods, disconnected emotional relationships, over-emphasis on test scores and appearances, and other misguided modern approaches to parenting. Now before you throw your son’s Gameboy at me, give it more thought!
If you have children, consider these five points at your own level of awakening to conscious parenting. Let’s not forsake our children’s mental and emotional health for our illusions of progress. Raising children is a bigger responsibility than having the income to support them or knowing how to strap them into a car seat (though those things are very important, too!). The responsibility of parenting starts with understanding the human being, knowing what supports its growth and what undermines it.
We must offer our children a continuous current of pure Love by embracing them throughout the months following birth, keeping their cells and tissues clean with natural foods, and protecting their minds from the insidious programming of television and video games. This is essential for balanced human development. Instead of relying on endless, conflicting research studies and toxic medications, let’s prioritize these basic truths of good parenting. That is the surest way to restore order where there is disorder.
With love and devotion to our human family and all our children,