The 33voices Dialogue – Kapil Gupta on What We Get Wrong About Parenting

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Key Takeaways
  • “We consider to be right, the things that make us feel good. We consider to be wrong, the things that make us feel bad”
    • That is hardly a litmus test, for what is truth, and what is not
  • “In many ways, raising children is like victims raising victims”
  • Your biggest responsibility as a parent:
    • Recognizing that you have FAR too much say when the child is small – you get to choose everything
    • “When any human being has too much power, he’s corruptive. There are no consequences.”
    • “There is a natural instinctive tendency, never to question yourself. There is a natural instinctive tendency to believe that the way you feel things should be, are the way things actually should be.”
  • “I know for a 100% fact, that the vast majority of time the word love is used, it is actually describing attachment”
  • “If you do not want to live a miserable life, what must be understood is that the pursuit of any prescription, will absolutely cement your misery”
    • Whenever you try to “fix” something, you only perpetuate it
  • One of the most important things you can do – being 100% honest with your kids, all the time
  • A great question to ask your children – “What is it I have never really understood about you?”
Intro
Kapil’s Son
  • Kapil has a 19 year old son, who is a freshman at OSU – he’s part of the golf team
    • They are the #1 ranked Division I golf team in the country 
  • Was the environment Kapil and his wife created, instrumental for his son’s success, and his ability to cope with the pressure of playing for a Division I golf team?
    • “Parenting is a search, it isn’t a linear pursuit”
    • “I would never accept that I’m a ‘good parent’. I don’t even know what that means.”
    • To Moe – “You are giving me way too much credit. I think I have done far more wrong than right. I have made far more mistakes than I have done things right by a wide margin.”
    • “Wherever there’s a vision, there tends to be problems”
      •  “Excessive drive, as much as I believe in it, sabotages a level of peace”
      • Kapil is referring to the drive most parents have for their kids to succeed
  • Kapil takes very little credit for his son’s success
Right and Wrong
  • In a discourse Kapil wrote, addressing his son, he said – “When you were small I had so much to teach you. I was overjoyed by the times I tried to guide you and instruct you, but all my efforts failed. The reason I failed is because what I was not able to teach you was wisdom. The ideas that I taught you were born out of limited experiences. They were born out of my own biased views. Truth be told I do not know what is right and what is wrong.”
    • “What we call teaching, are the things that we think we know. The things we think we know are the result of our own limited experiences which we tend to have the habit of extrapolating into a universal experience, and as some sort of universal truth. and it’s not.”
  • “In many ways, raising children is like victims raising victims”
    • When you have children, you’re not enlightened – you are still learning yourself about who you are/are not, and what life is really all about
    • It’s very much “on the job novice training”
  • “We consider to be right, the things that make us feel good. We consider to be wrong, the things that make us feel bad”
    • That is hardly a litmus test, for what is truth, and what is not
What was going through Kapil’s mind we he had his son?
  • “I think when you have a child for the first time, you’re sort of, in a way, blindsided. You don’t really know what to do, you just do what instinct says.”
  • “Because all of your attention is so wrapped up into the minute by minute, which needs your immediate attention, that deep introspection into how to raise a child is not really at the forefront.”
    • The deep introspection sort of comes later on – as the child ages
What are the most important responsibilities of modern parents?
  • Remember first – all prescriptions are nonsense
  • “There is a natural instinctive tendency, never to question yourself. There is a natural instinctive tendency to believe that the way you feel things should be, are the way things actually should be.”
    • This is one of the most critical things that happens to us, that is really a blindfold
    • “There is no space between ourselves, and the thing that we think is the right thing to do” – But there should be
    • “There is a natural tendency to believe in our own ‘Godhood’ as parents”
  • Parents have FAR too much say when the child is small – you get to choose everything
    • “When any human being has too much power, he’s corruptive. There are no consequences.”
    • So the biggest responsibility as a parent – recognizing this fact
      • “The real doing is a non-doing. The ultimate action is understanding. The ultimate action is recognition. Seeing is the ultimate doing. Seeing is more doing than any possible doing you could do.”
What did Kapil get wrong as a parent, in raising his sons?
  • “Not creating that space between myself and how I view things
  • “Believing in the power of my position, without questioning it”
  • “Not viewing things from the perspective of the child more often.”
  • “Being intoxicated by my own drive”
    • This is related to Kapil’s drive to have his son excel at golf
Looking at The World From the Child’s Perspective
  • What causes us not to do this?
    • “A fact of human nature, which is that unless a human being is required to do something, he wont.”
    • Unless a human’s back is against the wall, unless he feels a consequence, he will not be compelled to do anything other than what is most instinctive and readily available to him/her
    • “No human being acts unless there is a consequence”
How would Kapil describe the love he has for his boys?
  • “Love is a very difficult word to define, and I don’t know what it means.”
  • “I know for a 100% fact, that the vast majority of time the word love is used, it is actually describing attachment”
  • “The relationship I’ve developed with my boys, is mostly about me learning of own deficiencies. 95% of the conversations we have now, are about the things that I have learned, and the things I still have to learn.”
Teaching Your Children
  • “If a child has any sense, that you’re trying to teach him something (like a lesson), he shuts off”
  • You can’t predict what wears off on your children – “Whatever wears off, wears off”
    • What often happens, are the things that wear off on your children, are things that you never thought they heard
    • “The things you emphatically stated, are definitely the things they didn’t hear”
How can we achieve freedom?
  • “You have to have a desire to ‘stop playing the game.’ The game of conflict, followed by temporary resolution, followed by rekindling of the conflict, followed by another resolution, followed by confusion, followed by sadness, followed by forgiveness, followed an apology, and followed by conflict again”
  • “One has to arrive at the point, where he recognizes that with this apology and this forgiveness and this end of conflict…it’s only a matter of time before it begins again”
    • “It is extraordinarily convincing that once the conflict ends…this is going to be it, and it’s never it.”
    • “When one reaches a point, that he fully and without a single doubt recognizes that it is absolutely going to continue, then he begins to ask different questions”
      • You’ll stop asking questions like…
        • How do I end this conflict?
        • How do I make this other person feel x and y?
        • What did I do wrong?
        • What should I say?
        • (All these questions only lead to more conflict)
      • And start asking questions like..
        • How do I get to the point of freedom?
  • You need to understand that no one ever does anything to us, all of the things we do, we do to ourselves
“Most human beings will never be content with who we are”
  • “You can’t be content, with something you don’t understand, or something that’s always changing”
    • “How can you be content with a moving target?”
  • “To be content with who you are, basically means to be content with who you think you are, and who you think you are is just a bunch of personality traits”
    • Those personality traits change based on who you meet in the street
    • “Who you believe you are is constantly changing, the mind is like the weather”
  • “If you do not want to live a miserable life, what must be understood is that the pursuit of any prescription, will absolutely cement your misery”
    • Whenever you try to “fix” something, you only perpetuate it
    • Most things are not “fixable”, they’re only “seeable”
    • Fixing is manipulation, and whenever you manipulate something you may fix one side, but ruin another side
How do Kapil and his wife become a great resource for his boys?
  • “By being honest, about everything”
    • Kapil is always 100% honest with his boys – the same as he is on Twitter…but it’s not always easy
  • “Very few people are honest with themselves, because they have ready made answers that their culture has given them, as to why they make the mistakes they do”
    • Because they use those prepackaged answers, they never arrive at the ultimate truth, and they never become free
Wrapping Up
  • A great question to ask your children – “What is it I have never really understood about you?”
Something We Should All Do More Of
  • “I have a habit of looking at my own deficiencies, far more than any small triumphs”
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