The following is taken from the July edition of the Byron Katie newsletter. Eileen writes because her son's violent video games are causing her stress. Her words are italicized.
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Please help me with this one: "My son shouldn't play violent video games/watch violent children's programmes." I know there's a violence to stopping him playing them. But when he plays them he seems to get brainwashed into thinking it's ok to go around shooting people and that the most important thing in life is to be the winner (the end justifies the means). So at times I panic, because I think, here I am doing The Work, trying to become a more peaceful parent, meanwhile my son is becoming indoctrinated in the art of war. Last week he bit a friend and said it was ok because he won.
I've considered the possibility that how much he watches and what he watches is his business. But he's only six. If he's doing what he wants to do, which is to play video games most of the day (he's home-educated) and I let him, then am I not being passively violent because love would act to protect him? Aside from what will it do to his mind to immerse himself, at such a sweet young age, in programmes made by people who clearly don't do The Work (!), I feel I must restrict his use for fear of what will it do to his body, his eyesight, his posture, his adrenalin (he gets very flushed), what constant exposure to electro-magnetic frequencies may do to his health, in way that can never be measured.
With a 6 years old, where do I draw the line between his business and my business? I find this one a really difficult grey area.
My daughter, Roxann, it seems to me, is very clear about her business, her daughter’s business, and God’s business. She sees her five-year-old daughter as her business and God’s business. If, for example, Marley wants ice cream before dinner and Roxann says no, it is over and done. It is over and done because Marley can trust her mother’s integrity 100%. Marley hears the no and simply goes on about her business.
If Scott, her father, (this no longer is entirely true, as he has since “lived through” a lot of ego didn’t survive the nine-day School for The Work) says no to Marley, he has to say it over and over, since he doesn’t really mean it, even though he thinks that he does; he (is this familiar?) is teaching Marley, unintentionally, that if she can push the right button, crying, begging, stamping around, pleeeeeeeezzzzzzzzing him, etc., he will finally say yes. She only needs to find the right button to push.
Now consider how painful it is for the little girl, as you imagine what she must go through and what she is teaching herself about what it takes to get what she wants in life. Now, consider the little girl who hears what she trusts to be true from her mother. I see peace. Her mother is so very kind in her communication and isn’t seeking Marley’s love, approval and appreciation; she is being honest and answering out of love with her instead. “After dinner, honey.” And that’s it. Roxann is open to a discussion and won’t be moved unless from what she is hearing it makes sense for her to move to another idea. I find that Roxann is very loving and open-minded and real with her children. I closely watched Marley growing up and witnessed the two methods of raising children. (Scott was doing it the way that I did it) The School really opened Scott’s eyes. Beautiful to watch such an amazing young family grow as their minds become open enough to Work themselves.
I asked a health kinesiologist to muscle-test for me how much was ok for my son to watch, and he said he thought an hour and a half was as much as my son's body could manage each day healthily. So then I turn into the 'Hour and A Half police' as I try to apply this daily principle and notice my lovely son become secretive about watching. I have introduced guilt into his joy.
There is another way. I invite you to inquiry, to look to the ways that you are secretive, with him as well as with yourself and others.
So have I left my business in trying to protect my son? I note that when your daughter was drinking you did not take steps to protect her, and that this ability to stand back and just love her is what helped her the most in the end. But she was 16. My boy is comparatively tiny.
I read in Loving What Is that you're no longer a believer that children's teeth shouldn't rot. So am I in my son's business even when I brush his teeth? What about when I rush to save him from an oncoming car? I really get The Work when it applies to adults. But with my children, it's more complex, because I want to be responsible for them.
If you can't answer my question, then at least would you consider developing (a) a book on The Work for parents and (b) a video game for children based on being a warrior for The Work? Perhaps where they could choose which Byron Katie outfit to wear and then act out storming into people's internal prisons releasing them from their uninvestigated alien thoughts. They could have special anti-thinking stun guns, love cannons and guns that shoot out questions and turnarounds. They could have bullet-proof suits printed with Judge Your Neighbour worksheets which see them through all obstacles. It could all be so lovely then. I could just plug my boy into all of that and he'd be happy and investigated all at once. And I could put my feet up, have a cup of tea and celebrate this marvellous technology that gives me a break and keeps my boy so entertained.
"Your son shouldn’t play violent video games"—is that true? No, because he is playing them—until he doesn’t, and so much of this is up to you and what you are believing that would cause him to take over your life using ways that you have taken over your own life with. Our children learn from us how to get what they want. .
How do you react when you believe that thought? You feel stressed, worried, exasperated. You’re thinking along these lines: What are children coming to? What kind of horrible company would create a video game like this?
Who would you be without the thought "My son shouldn’t play violent video games"? Probably more relaxed. Possibly at peace with your son. Possibly at peace with yourself.
Possible turnarounds: "My son should play violent video games" or "I should play violent video games with my son" or "My son should play some other games."
Accepting the way things are doesn’t mean you can’t act to change it.
So what to do? How should you act?
As a mother, you have a very clear path of action: either (1) you accept your son’s video game—perhaps you should enter his world, and join the game—or (2) you take away his video games. You can take immediate action. See if you can find an alternative to channel his energy. What comes to your mind? Perhaps a physical sport (skateboarding, soccer, tennis, rock climbing, running), perhaps a book (a friend swears by King Solomon’s Mines), or a chore or activity (mowing the yard, sweeping the floors), building (a treehouse, a kite, a plane), or creating something (a website, a movie, a painting, a comic book)—the possibilities are endless. And if he still chooses to play his video games after that, bring him some cookies and sit with him as he plays. Talk to him about it. About the game, about the violence, about the world. Show him the protests in Iraq on YouTube. You can engage with your child’s world or reject it. Try embracing it.
As an adult, when I do The Work I get free, and my children follow. My children learned confusion from me and are now finding clarity through me. We teach by example, not through empty words that we cannot follow ourselves.
"Sounds like a great video game, however: "rushing, storming…" I would have to relearn. Does it work with a smile on your face? Does everyone drop their gun and laugh? Then I’m in. Any ideas out there?
Thank you, dearest, I enjoyed your letter and have been where you have been, and it can be so very heart-wrenching as a parent when our children are out of control and we don’t know what to do.
Also, The Work brings sanity; no parent wouldn’t take a child to the dentist if they could. Roxann has the most amazing way of brushing Marley’s teeth and Marley today doesn’t and has never, as far as I can see, had the thought that it is something that is a burden. Her mother and father answered her questions and it all made sense to her, just like walking. Ahhhhh, peace is a brilliant state of mind, and my job is to invite the world to that. The way is “in” first and lived “out” as an effect of the power found inside. That is what happens as a natural result.
Loving you and your dear son,