How can a child grow into the Light of her or his Unique Self without parents who live the truth of their own stories? Family is part of our Unique Obligation in the world. Parenting from a Unique Self matrix challenges some traditional ideas about the roles of parents and children.
Q & A
The following is a transcript of an excerpt from a dialogue between Joe Perez and Marc Gafni in July 2012 (audio file available for download at the bottom of the page).
Joe: I’m here with Marc Gafni in our Unique Self conversations and today’s talk is parenting. Marc, I’m hoping you’re in the mood to talk about Unique Self and how it changes the game for parents and what it tells us about the nature of parenting.
Marc: That’s a wonderful inquiry. Being a parent — I have a new son, 20 months old, named Zion, who is awesome; I’ve been a parent four times over; it’s a big deal. Whatever your relationship with your children is, the thing you most want is for your child to be happy. The way that you understand your job as parenting is [by asking], What can I do to create a deep ground of joy for my children? But actually that’s not the job of parenting. The paradox is that parents cannot make their children happy. As long as parents view their job as making their children happy, they will actually fail at parenting and paradoxically they will fail at making their children happy.
The major job of the parent is to create the context, the ground, the safety, the matrix, within which the child can realize and grow into in a non-distorted form of their Unique Self. It creates the context to enable – in the most gorgeous sense of the world, to make the child able – to live their unique story, their Unique Self. To really see clearly from their unique perspective and not to be lost in the perspective of the parents.
Parents have to bracket their own perspective to allow a child to emerge into their own unique perspective … and that means to not live the unlived gifts of the parents. That really creates the child’s ability to own responsibility – the ability to respond to the world they live in in a meaningful way, being a unique beneficial presence on the planet, giving a meaningful gorgeous gift, being a beneficial presence on the planet. That’s a very big deal. If the parent is lost in making the child happy, then the core job of parenting doesn’t happen.
The paradox is that joy – happiness – is actually not available itself by pursuing it. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Life is great. Liberty is awesome. And the pursuit of happiness doesn’t work. When you pursue happiness, it runs in the other direction. The only way to obtain happiness is to actually get it as a by-product of the passionate pursuit of something other than happiness.
And what is that other thing? Living your story, living your Unique Self, living the unique virtue, the unique vector of your story. Living the unique trajectory or plotline of your story is what makes you happy. It’s not a light, saccharine happiness, but the deep joy of knowing you’re in the right story. Sometimes it has some hard twists and turns, but you know you’re in your story, and you have a deep and abiding sense of joy living the story that’s yours.
It’s a by-product of living your Unique Self. In this wonderful unfolding, the way that the parent makes their child happy is not by making the child happy. The parent clarifies their unique perspective, gives their unique gifts, and then has the responsibility to show a life lived with adequacy, dignity, and, as a by-product, incredible joy. It’s great that Unique Self literally changes the game in parenting.
That’s what’s so exciting about Unique Self. It’s a psychoactive force. Once you actually understand that depth, it changes the source code understanding of virtually every area.
Joe: Just to follow up on your perspective on parenting, how does a parent know what the child’s Unique Self is? How do you identify the child’s Unique Self versus the parts of their personality that they’re growing out of?
Marc: It’s not actually a parent’s responsibility or right to determine what a child’s Unique Self is. The parent’s responsibility is to create the ground of love, the matrix of security, the womb of presence, in which a child can naturally grow towards their unique light, grow towards their Unique Self. Sometimes it’s the parent because the parent can see. Sometimes it’s a mentor who sees the child more clearly, or a group or friends or peers who see the child more clearly. The parent creates the ground for the child to grow towards the light, but it’s actually not the parent’s responsibility or right to determine for the child what the child’s Unique Self is.
Joe: Let’s switch the perspective on our conversation a little bit. What is the Unique Self perspective on the child’s responsibilities towards the parent, or an adult child’s responsibility to the aging parents, an increasingly important area as more and more people are aging and living longer today?
Marc: What is the relationship of family in general to Unique Self? Unique Self is a property of essence, a property of one’s being and becoming. Family can’t replace Unique Self. You can’t say, “My Unique Self is my family.” Family is part of the expression of my Unique Obligation in the world. Everyone has a unique set of obligations and needs that they can address; that are their own personal needs which can be addressed by no one else. Unique Self means, again, there is a unique need that I can address in the world, an important dimension of Unique Self teaching.
If, let’s say, an aging parent has two children, the only two people who can address that parent from a place of love and responsibility are those two children. Their friends can’t do it, their brothers and sisters can’t do it, their friends can’t do it, the only two are those two children. Therefore they can give those aging parents a dimension of recognition, gratitude, love, caring, attention, and kindness that can actually only be given by them and them alone.
It’s irreplaceable, and in that sense it’s part of that unique need and it creates that unique obligation. That’s the matrix of Unique Self within which that conversation falls under.
File: unique-self-dialogue-gafni-perez-on-parenting-July2012 (19.9 MB)
Learn more about Unique Self and Parenting:
- See “Chapter 22: Parenting and Unique Self,” Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment (Integral Publishers, 2012)