When I was still in New Age spirituality, I tried to see that we are souls who have chosen this difficult lesson and incarnate to resolve our issues. It helped somewhat and I tried to learn to love his higher self. Little did I know that I was just covering up my unconscious guilt while projecting my own hate and fear onto him.
Eventually I moved out for a while and I was “happier” because I didn’t see him much. Talking about avoidance. However, things were to develop such that I ended up back at my parents’ place due to financial issues.
Since I got into A Course in Miracles, I began to realize that we are all sinless, guiltless and one mind. I have done countless forgiving of my father since then. The anger would come and go repeatedly. One day, I was chatting with my elder brother about my father’s issues and the “instant of separation” replayed itself. My ego was out in full force, seeing my father as the victimizer who caused many of my problems.
Shortly after, I figured I needed further help and decided to buy Kenneth Wapnick’s book, “Parents and Children: Our Most Difficult Classroom“. The books come in a two volume set, the first part discussing how to deal with children and the second on how to deal with parents.
Part One: Being a Right-Minded Parent
The first book started with a special message from Jesus to William (Bill) Thetford, co-scribe of ACIM and Kenneth Wapnick’s commentary on it. Kenneth Wapnick is using Bill’s fear of public speaking and teaching (see biography of Helen Schucman “Absence From Felicity“) as an example of parent-child issues.
Initially, readers may wonder what connection exists between the two. We learn later that Bill had developed an authority problem from his mis-perception of his parents since young. He saw himself as a victim and made that connection as a child. The solution lies in Bill first taking up the self responsibility for making that decision, and thus having the power to change his mind about seeing himself as a victim and his parents as victimizers. This victim-victimizer play is thus central to the issues of all parent-child relationships.
The book also draws a parallel between being a parent and a teacher. Being a teacher myself, I am reminded that the teacher-student relationship is yet another parent-child connection. As Jesus told Bill: “The role of a teacher [or a parent], is one of leading himself and others out of the desert. (Page 40)”, Kenneth Wapnick explains:
“To be a parent means to lead yourself and your child out of the desert of separation by not giving the child power over you, and by not believing you have power over your child. One of the worst things parents can do is to give their children power to affect them. This occurs whenever they get upset or lose patience with their children.”
This lesson is not unlike those of any other relationship. Again, Jesus is asking us to see our brothers as how we would see ourselves:
“If there’s really only one of us here, and if the unconscious part of the mind knows that, then what are we doing when we go around judging and condemning other people? All we’re really doing is sending a message directly into our own unconscious mind that we are worthy of being judged and condemned.” (Your Immortal Reality by Gary Renard, Pg 17)
If we judge our children or students, lose our temper over them or tries to control them, we are effectively seeing ourselves as powerless and others as having the power over us, thus seeing bodies and separation as real.
Part Two: Being a Right-Minded Child
The second part of the book is very much more relevant to me because I do not have children and of course, I have my long withstanding father issue.
I learn something very important from the book which echoes somewhat what my brother is telling me: be kind to our father. The funny thing is that my brother has issues with my mother yet he was in his right mind and speaking for the Holy Spirit when he reminded me to be kind towards my father.
The first thing that we need to realize is that our parent-child relationship has reversed when we become an adult child. We are thus now the “parent” to our elderly parents — not in the authority sense but a maternal role. Regardless if it is the ego’s script, it is a fact in our illusion that elderly parents may have difficulties taking care of themselves. There is no point walking to an elderly with arthritis to tell him that he is limitless and perfect. We have to meet other people at where they are.
This brings me to the next point, as explained by Kenneth Wapnick:
“Love does not have a sense of duty; it simply is. Taking care of someone out of a sense of duty or responsibility is not love but specialness: the triumph of form over content. Content is love. Form is duty, responsibility, ritual: one should do this, one must do that; good sons and daughters do this, good mothers and fathers do that. But love is not present in these situations. There is nothing in A Course in Miracles about what you are to do or not do behaviourally — only whether you choose the content of guilt or love.
“Even if you regard taking care of your parents as a duty, which is how society usually sees it, this does not necessarily mean you should not do it — be aware that refraining from helping may be not loving as well. The Course teaches that “what is not love is murder” (T-23.IV.1:10). You are being not loving but hateful if you act because you are supposed to, or because the guilt would be astronomical if you did not or because you do not want to be written out of the will. The loving response is to see yourself as the older brother or sister with your little sibling, or even your little child, who needs help. Why would you not help someone you love who needs you?”
And so I continue my own forgiveness lesson with my father and look forward to the day that I will be unaffected by what he does or say.
The book also includes many other examples of parent-child situations and Kenneth Wapnick’s take on how to deal with them via the ACIM way. I can’t recommend this book enough to any ACIM students who have issues with children, parents, students or teachers. That really includes everyone believing themselves to be here in a body.