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The Tao of Parenting

As an older mother of a 7-year old (she was born when I was about 46), I find that younger moms often ask me for parenting advice. It always startles me a bit, as I don’t see myself as much of a sage in the parenting department. But then I surprise myself when I respond with something that actually sounds pretty ‘sound’ as far as advice goes. Like my own parenting mantra, “Don’t take anything personally.” After five children, I can testify to the value of this advice: it’s golden—especially during those teen years.

Although the secret to perfect parenting cannot be found in any book (because it does not exist), I’m still going to recommend a parenting book that I swear by. It has never failed me. It is,“The Parent’s Tao Te Ching, Ancient Advice for Modern Parents,” by William Martin.

The book is based upon the actual Tao Te Ching, a 2,500 year-old sacred writing of practical advice for leaders and philosophers about “The Way,” or “The Way of Life.” The “Tao” embodies themes of unity, non-judgment, balance between doing and being and the simple truths found in emulation of nature. It is interpreted for parenting by William Martin, a student of the Tao who has; “distilled the essence of each of the Tao’s 81 chapters freshly re-interpreted them to speak directly and clearly to the most difficult of modern tasks-parenting.” (From the book jacket.)

Here is an excerpt: Chapter 17
No Need for Threats
You can control your children
through threats and punishments
and they will learn to fear.

You can control their behavior by praise and reward
and they will learn to look outside themselves
for approval and for worth.

You can watch over their every movement,
every action, every decision,
making sure they do it “right,”
and they will learn to always
doubt themselves.

Or you can love and guide
without controlling or interfering
and they will learn to trust themselves.

Mom with starry eyes. ~by Piper

It is the one book on parenting I feel absolutely confident in recommending. It’s short, concise, relevant, spiritual and practical. A good parenting book, like this one, appears to be teaching us how to raise loving, balanced, well-rounded and grounded children, but it is really teaching us to learn from our children how to become loving, balanced, well-rounded and grounded adults. It inspires me to become the person my children see when they look at me through their loving, trusting eyes.


There is so much divinity in the everyday.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great advice! I need to get this book. Thanks!

    July 6, 2011
  2. This sounds like a wonderful book. I’m putting it on my list! I’m always looking for ways to be a better parent/person. Thank you! 🙂

    July 7, 2011

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