Around the Motherhouse Blog

To Feel Hunger

The other day my daughter didn't want to eat her dinner, so threw most of it away. Two days later, my middle child begged for a snack because he was soooooooo hungry. I let him have a yogurt which he proceeded to eat two bites of and then dump the rest out. At the store my youngest insisted on having a certain type of cereal that once he tried refused to eat ~ it still sits in the cupboard, uneaten to this day. Apparently no one likes it.

Sigh.

Such a waste. But how do I teach my children the importance, the sacredness of food? I have spent my entire parenting experience trying to shelter my children from experiencing things like hunger or homelessness. And yet, unless they have experienced hunger how can they learn to respect the importance of food? Unless they have been without a home how can they truly appreciate the roof over our heads?

It is a conundrum I think of often. There is a Chinese proverb: Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand. If I tell my kids to eat all their food because some kid in Africa is starving it has no impact. Showing them the impacts of hunger may strike a chord with them, but still isn't something they can relate too on a personal and physical level. And yet ñ I do not want to allow my children to go hungry so that they will learn to respect food. I do not want to involve my children to the point of experiencing the horrors of hunger or homelessness.

My husband was abandoned by his mother when he was 14 and has been living on his own ever since. He learned right away not to take food or shelter for granted. He is a wise and powerful man as an adult, but how does he pass that wisdom on to our children?

It seems that so much of our wisdom comes from painful experiences in our past. These experiences are the exact ones we try to protect our children from. I want to raise wise children as much as I want to protect them from experiences such as hunger or homelessness. If I shelter my children too much, do I stunt their spiritual growth and the development of their wise selves?

I have been looking for a middle ground in this. I think a possible way to bypass the pain and embrace the wisdom is the ancient spiritual doctrine of : SERVICE. By helping others who are less fortunate we teach/learn compassion. By reaching out to those who are less fortunate my children can see that life isn't always easy or safe, but in a way that is safe and empowering. Perhaps by working in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter or finding ways to help others I can help to foster profound wisdom without the expense of harmful experiences.

What experiences have you had that were painful, even harmful, for which you have gleaned wisdom from as an adult?

~Written by Jenny June Sterling, Goddess Mother of 3, who is currently searching for her inner wisdom.