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Date: 01/01/2022
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Child’s Mind

This practice was created by Jo delAmor in 2022 and is included in her book Raising Children in the Midst of Global Crisis: a Compassionate Guidebook for New Paradigm Parenting. Please acknowledge the source when you use any of these practices. Please acknowledge the source when you use any of these practices.

 

This practice was designed primarily for parents and people with kids in their lives, but may be valuable to explore with non-parents, as well. It corresponds to the third dimension of the Great Turning, “Shift in Perception and Values,” as described by Joanna Macy and Molly Brown in Coming Back to Life.

 

Time: 15-20 minutes

 

Introduction

The compounding crises we’re facing in the world today are the consequences of a societal worldview based on disconnection and oppression. This Power Over Paradigm is at the core of our modern institutions, governments and economies. It also lurks in the subconscious terrain of our own way of seeing and understanding the world.

As we work for the Great Turning it’s essential to transform our own understandings and do our best to create the fertile ground for a worldview based in mutual thriving and deep connection to emerge. As parents in this critical time, we have the opportunity and responsibility to tend to this transformational process for our world by raising our children to be the seeds of a Thriving Life Paradigm and a Life Sustaining Society.

In the practice of New Paradigm Parenting we embrace the chance to begin again with our children; to re-examine our own thinking and relearn the world along with our children as we raise them. Instead of telling them “the way it is,” we observe and explore along with them in a state of honest curiosity while deconstructing our own conditioning and indoctrination. Becoming a student of the world allows us to peel back the layers of illusion and stories we’ve been told that perpetuate the Power Over Paradigm to reveal the deeper truths that help us align with and take care of Life.

This process of deconstruction and deconditioning can be tricky to navigate, especially when little ones are asking questions and looking to you for answers. In this practice, we get to open our minds and play with shaking loose from our conditioning and preformulated concepts to reflect on and express our own insights and curiosities about the real world. This is an opportunity to experiment with and practice ways to speak with our children and learn about the world together.

 

Method

For this practice we get to pretend to be six years old!

If you’re doing this practice in a group, you can break into pairs. One person in the pair will be the adult and one will be the six-year-old for the first round. Then they’ll switch. If you want to try this practice without a group, see if someone in your life is willing to pretend to be six so you can experience this process. Or try it out in real life with a little kid and see how it goes.

Once you’re in pairs, the person “playing” the adult will think of something that they’ve learned or are learning through their own direct experience that differs from the commonly accepted status quo version and the kind of answer a kid would typically get if they asked about it. This could be a difference in the way history is understood, or an understanding about race, science, gender, spirituality, politics, food, industry, how money works, what’s really important in life, or any truth you can think of that is different from the “standard answer.”

Meanwhile, the partner playing the six-year-old can work on getting into character, getting ready to embody the curiosity and quizzical nature of a young one.

When the partners are ready, invite the “adult” to introduce the concept they’ve selected and start explaining this understanding to their six-year-old partner in language they would be able to understand. This is an opportunity to speak plainly and honestly about complex ideas. Six-year-olds may not have a full adult vocabulary and they may not know much about the topic you’re sharing, but they are very intelligent and inquisitive. Be mindful not to condescend or baby talk to them. Just use plain language and relatable concepts.

This is one of the few practices where the listening partner doesn’t have to stay quiet. The person playing the six-year-old gets to interrupt the adult as much as they want and ask the kind of questions that a six-year-old would ask. If the adult uses a weird adult word, be sure to ask them what it means. If the adult brings up an idea that a six-year-old wouldn’t understand or would be curious about, jump in with questions. This is not a time to badger the adult or prevent them from getting a word in edgewise. In my experience six-year-olds are great conversationalists. So be sure not to get carried away with the interruptions but do keep it lively and challenge your adult partner to break down their understanding of their topic all the way to its basic truths.

Depending on the time you have, you can give 3-5 minutes for this part or even a bit longer. And then switch partners and do the same thing. Be sure to allow some transition time for the partners to get into their new characters and for the new “adult” to reflect on and choose the concept they’ll be sharing.

When the partner shares are over, remember to come back into the whole group to debrief and reflect together.

Additional Resources Similar WTR-style practices designed specifically for parents can be found in the book Raising Children in the Midst of Global Crisis and be experienced in Jo delAmor’s Parenting in Tumultuous Times 12-week program.

Contributor/Author: Jo delAmor