Thursday, October 23, 2008

worship and the special needs child

my 5yr old has special needs and behaviour problems...he sees a psychiatrist and counselors and is in special ed at school..he takes medication and will probably need more....he is a sweet kid and he tries, but he doesnt understand consequence.
He will run around the temple and will not sit still....ok, let me rephrase that..he CANNOT sit still... I know that he ruins my peaceful meditative mood when I am in the temple, and I cant imagine how he makes those who dont love him feel.
I have taken to using temple time as a threat to him...and I am feeling really bad about it.. I tell him if he doesnt behave, he cant go see Krishna...I have left him home with Dad several times while I bring the twins to Damodara prayers..and I have felt guilty every time..on one hand, who am I to deny him darshana with Krishna? On the other hand who am I to force everyone else to take darshan of Jayadeva? The thing is, we dont know if Jayadeva will ever be able to function in a place where restraint and self control is a am I as his parent supposed to just bring him, and deal with it or leave him at home and deal with it? I refuse to just let him run amok in the temple....
If anyone has feed back on this I would greatly appreciate it


Ekendra Dasa said...

pranams. my wife and i read your post. man can we relate. our son (4 years) can be a big disturbance at the temple although he is getting better as of late.

Although there may be many who disagree, I think you are doing the right thing by making a visit to the temple a privilege.

I know one senior mother who raised all 5 of her kids this way - if they were naughty during the week she would threaten to leave them at home with their dad while she took the other kids to the Sunday Feast. All 5 of her kids are still connected to Krishna Consciousness and 3 are initiated and practicing. She is a very deeply committed devotee herself and an outstanding mother.

Krishna sent you Jayadeva to love and care for. He is a devotee who didn't quite make it in his previous attempts to completely surrender. He's in your care because Krishna wanted it that way. I know you love him tremendously or you wouldn't be asking for advice in a public forum.

It is a fallacy of contemporary parenting ideology to equate unconditional love with total permissiveness and leniency. Restriction, revoking of privileges and , dare I say, punishment are all forms of love provided they are done with a care and the intention to impart a higher understanding to the child.

My personal guidelines are to keep 80%-90% of my relationship with my son all smiles. I show him the extra attention he seems to need. This way he knows I love him with the core of my heart. Because this is the foundation, I then have plenty of room to correct him without jeopardizing the trust. I find that he actually tries to listen to me and often responds when I express even subtle displeasure with his behaviour. This took a lot of work though - wasn't always like this.

Anyways, I hope i didn't get too preachy here. I'm still trying to figure out this parenting stuff myself. I have had a little success with a difficult child so I wanted to share. Hope something here is useful for you.

ys, Ekendra Dasa (yeah - im a dad)

Ekendra Dasa said...

oh ... and i know other parents who take their kids for darsan at times when there are not a lot of people there.

Devadeva Mirel said...

hare krishna!

i have a son and a daughter 19 and a half months apart. my son is a total farm boy, but we are not living on a farm. he is a climber and jumper and runner and he honestly doesn't care much if i disapprove. he also loves the devotees so much he jumps into their arms, onto their arms, over their arms and clings onto their necks....thus messing up the alignment of anyone's back whom he has affection for. instructing/disciplining him is a work in progress.

sometimes i feel like the meanest mother at the temple as i tell my crabby kid he can go stand outside while i stay in the kirtan or that i will take him home. i definitely think attending the temple program, taking darsan of the deity and associating with devotees is a privilege.

i am actually pretty lenient with things...i think me and my kids look like total farm hippies. but their are certain things i won't tolerate...namely touching one's own feet, sitting with one's back to the deity and being such a total spaz that a huge disruption is caused (especially if my son takes to corrupting an otherwise well behaved child).

i know parents who use different techniques. i observed a couple of summers ago a parent who bribed her daughter with teeny tiny tic-tacs. it had a good effect.

although many parenting experts don't recommend it, i like to employ threats. they seem to work for my son. like, "if you do not show good behavior at the temple, then you will not be allowed to have any ice cream this week."

another practical thing which one mataji shared with me and i have found some success with is preparing the child for what is expected of them. the entire car ride to the temple i am saying, "when we are at the temple, i want good behavior. i want you to chant. no running around. only dancing in kirtan. when it is class we will sit for 15 minutes and then leave." sometimes i even show him where on my watch the end point of our class internment is.

finally...something which parenting experts all support but we have had only varying success with is a program called "i,2, 3 magic." there is a book and a video and basically you count and if you get to three and the child doesnt stop, kid gets a time out.

this works a lot of time for my son but if he really wants to be a spaz, he doesnt care about the punishment.

personally i used to feel kind of humiliated when my son was a spaz and i felt like people thought i was a bad parent. i am sure some did and there was all kinds of unwanted advice i would get in the throw of things..totally stupid stuff he hungry? no! he is a spaz!!! but i have just learned no to care what other people think. and if you do care, from my experience people will forgive your kid but they won't forgive you if you are not on top of things.

just do the best you can. ekendra had a good suggestion of bringing your son to the temple at less attended times but we have also found our child's behavior better when there is more going on...more of a social expectation from him. i dont know what kind of problems your son has so you really need to do what is accomodating to his needs. and don't forget, you can always give him krishna consciousness at home.

oh! and don't forget to tell your son when he has done a really fabulous job behaviorally....even if it is just for 5 minutes. everyone loves the soul, the false ego is forever youthful ;)

Ekendra Dasa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ekendra Dasa said...

Thanks for mentioning it Devadeva. We used the 1, 2, 3, Magic techniques which helped a lot. Same realization though - if our son was really determined to be a spaz then it didn't have too much of an effect. But it does work great for general maintenance.

Now, as soon as he starts to turn to the dark side of the force, his mother or I will say "That's 1." and he knows we mean business. The way to make it work is that you always have to follow through or they can't take it seriously. It was pretty tumultuous at first employing this technique but the results speak for themselves.

Now our son can be playing with a group of boys that are just about to get stoopid and all we need to do is get his attention and say "That's 1." and he thinks twice - sometimes. If we get to "That's 2." then he usually knows he's about to get it and desists obnoxious behavior. If we ever have to count to 3 then we still follow through and make him sit out. At the temple it means sitting on one of the benches away from all the other kids. He hates it - does the job though.

I'm convinced that the more our 4 year old son learns to respect his mother's authority than the happier he will be in life. Without respect it is hard to be grateful and without gratitude relationships are miserable and life is miserable.

Devadeva Mirel said...

yeah...what is it with sons and mothers? it is so wrong sometimes. my son is much better behaved for my husband. sometimes.

also, i think that generally devotee kids are not as dumbed down by tv and video games and all the other opiates common to our culture. so...we get the unwatered down version. it isn't easy.

N said...

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Best wishes, Nilesh