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The author eating a roll with his two kids ages 8 and 5 years. All smiling.

Musings on Parenting and Ego

Knowing about ego and spending time increasing the awareness of mine and that of my clients it can feel like the job is to expunge the ego. Or, to cut out the ego. Or, to pull out the weed of the ego, roots and all.  That would be better right?

So when I see my kid’s ego develop and harden in front of my very eyes it feels like it’s my duty to stifle that growth, to put weed killer all over it.

Isn’t it my job as a reputable member of society to ‘positively’ influence my kids to ensure that they are mannerly, respectful and not too selfish?

Well. I was reflecting on this. And, on something my Spiritual teacher (Adyashanti [incl link]) talks about…

He said something like: 

‘Ego is not an evolutionary mistake. It is not something that we need to get away from and abhor. Ego is an evolutionary process’

Our ego develops from about 3 years old. When we begin to experience ‘me’ as separate from you/mummy/other. Our ego helps us to navigate life and look after ourselves. Our ego keeps us safe.

However, as we mature there is also the invitation to let go of some of the constraints and rules and fears that our ego holds and keeps alive for us. It is possible to outgrow or transcend our ego and we all do that to a greater or lesser extent.

But all of this got me thinking…

If Adyashanti is right (and he is the wisest person I’ve ever encountered, so I believe he is…) and the ego is not a ‘thing’ but more of a process then…

…and I am still grappling with this…

…does that mean that I shouldn’t stifle my children’s ego whatsoever? I shouldn’t do too much ‘shaping’ of their behaviour because maybe, just maybe, if they are fully supported to be who they are and nurtured to evolve in the way that is naturally occurring for them with minimal telling them off then maybe, just maybe, they will burn out (in a good way) their ego structure and ego process much younger then if I pushed more conditioning into them about how to be and not be in the world.

🤯

When you think about it… what part in me is it that believes that ‘I have it right’ that ‘I know that these kids need to be mannerly and kind if it’s the last thing I do’. Eah yep, that’s my ego!

Maybe just maybe if I allowed more space around them. Maybe just maybe if I honoured their ‘selfishness’ more and almost actively encouraged it (ok, maybe that’s a step too far. Let’s say at least didn’t ‘beat it out of them’) maybe they’d get to learn for themselves that when ‘I just think about me’ and look after me and insist on the game being played by my rules… people don’t want to play with me.

So perhaps the best job I can do as a dad is be there when nobody wants to play with my kid because of how forcefully they decree their rules onto other kids. And I can gently and lovingly help them look at why this might be the case.

This really changes the game for me…

Can I step back when my son is being mean to his younger sister?

Can I find a way not to get annoyed when my daughter won’t be quick and eat her breakfast so we’re not late for school and me for a client? After all she’s being wonderfully present with that toy (“she’s distracted by”)

Ooft! Tricky… 😬

Just for the record my kids never have too many rules that other kids wouldn’t want to play with them… But I’ve seen other kids doing this! — said James’ ego 🫠🤣

I’ll do a few expirnments with my kids and see how it feels to let their ego come into it’s own. It’s going to be uncomfortable! Maybe I won’t even like my kids (behaviour) anymore… I guess we’ll see.

Maybe you’ve already crossed this road and have a few answers already. I’d love to hear… Message me. Help me be a better dad and citizen 🙏🏻

James

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