Dear Santa, Please Define Good



Dear Santa, Please Define Good?

by David and Susan Durovy

December 17th, 2019 / Read Time: 8 Minutes 45 sec.

Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward All

The reason I worked with The Post Institute (other than our four adopted and 27 foster kids driving us crazy), was the realization that Bryan Post offers real life solutions not only as great parenting solutions, but solutions for the world’s problems: real, unconditional, spiritual, realistic, honest to goodness yet very difficult to achieve—love!

The thing is, love as we refer to it day-to-day doesn’t happen much in our world. Oh, it exists as a symbol and a concept and idea/ideal, but in that, it is mere information (I love you—I love you too, luv ya, etc.), and not the experience. There is a world in-between.

Bryan Post says, “We don’t have all the answers, just one—love.” This is not a philosophy, a strategy or another great idea. It is THE way. If you understand this, then peace is not far behind.

When is the last time you looked at your child, spouse, family member or friend, with eyes moist, not knowing how to put feelings into words, said “I love you” — not as mere information (“love ya”), but, “I would do anything for you and I am so very sorry for all the times I hurt you”? If you haven’t had this experience of love recently, try harder, softer, bigger, smaller, gentler, slower, with great intent or something else but keep trying.

This is not something to believe in, but to experience, to feel, to know without a doubt that love is the way. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replied, “love God with your whole heart, mind and soul. And the 2nd greatest is like this, love your neighbor as yourself.” The list of those to exclude was left off. Those whose life-styles we judge, those of skin different from ours, different sexual orientations, those whose religion differs from ours etc. were not excluded. How about “love your enemies and do good to those that hate you”? Who is left off the list here?

What’s he trying to say here? Seems simple (not easy) and obvious—love. And this whole heart, mind and soul thing requires some digging. So lets think about that a bit… it is more than “love ya/love ya too”.

Our kids deserve our whole heart, mind and soul. As do our spouses—and ourselves.

We cannot have Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All with fear in our hearts and minds. As we experience the holidays, let us do so with a sense of wonder, excitement, and curiosity, bringing forth the greatest gift of all time—love.

Unconditional love; is love which cannot be earned and cannot be lost

Let’s transcend the notion that God and Santa reward only the good boys and girls. Bryan Post says, “see the fear, not the anger”. Pat O’Brien, founder of You Gotta Believe, the successful older teen adoption agency says, “kids would rather be mad than sad”. Sherri Boles-Rogers says, “when our kids are the most un-loveable is when they are needing love the most. And not just the words “I love you,” but the experience of love. What that looks like, how that sounds differs from mere words.” With this understanding in mind, just where are all the “bad” kids?

The saints and masters who have walked this planet over the since time began are those who have discovered the secret of this world. They have chosen love, in every instance, in every moment, in every circumstance. Many, even as they were being tortured, persecuted or murdered. As they were being tortured, persecuted, or murdered, they loved their oppressors. It doesn’t matter what their religion, philosophy or tradition was. Or what your religion, philosophy or tradition is.

Let us this year, this decade, this lifetime, and this moment give the gift of seeing the fear, sadness and trauma instead of the behaviors. Let’s just plain ‘ole love’em (no matter what). We might not get Peace on Earth, but maybe Peace in Family. And that may be just where Peace on Earth begins, in our very own hearts and families.

A few years ago we first published my wife Susan’s letter to Santa. It was a question, but one that seems as important today as it ever was. It’s a question that has implications for politics, religion, social relationships and for parenting.

Questions about good and evil, heaven and hell, reward and punishment and love, forgiveness and understanding have been around it seems since the history began. And the answers have changed over time, varied across cultures and differed from person to person. Remember the Catholic sin of “eating meat on Fridays?”

All religions it seems have drawn a line between acceptable and not acceptable. Once we delve deeper, the simple becomes murky and blurred and we may have to weigh in with our own sense of what we believe is right/wrong, good/bad acceptable/not acceptable. This could be a scary place for us, and no one wants to decide on our own what is right/wrong. It is much easier to point to law, the Bible, Koran, Scriptures, teachers, leaders or anyone we believe “knows” or has the answer. But for now, let’s just stick with the Santa issue. I see it almost daily during this time of the year and hear it from many parents, department store Santa helpers and family members—“have you been good this year?”

Hmmm. Let’s see what Susan has to say, then you weigh in and tell us what you think. Are any kids ‘bad’?

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Every year we publish this article hoping as you might struggle through this season of wonderment—and stress—you may find, that no matter how challenging it may have been in Christmas past, that every moment is an act of redefining yourself. And this redefining yourself has the carryover effect of helping others redefine themselves, your children for example.

I recall one Ghost of Christmas Past, where we ended up with four grown men carrying our seven-year-old son (one man on each arm and leg) as our son kicked and screamed bloody murder. He was appearing so out of control that it lead one man to ask if we should call the sheriff or just take him to the hospital? I was so embarrassed and ashamed of my son by this huge drama as all the relatives just stood by with their mouths hanging open wondering what the heaven was going on.

I said “no”, lets just take him in the house and let him go. Being a student of Bryan Post just added to my burden. I should know better. Finally, love broke through and I could help him regulate, just by letting sit and play by my side. All was well.

Except that as I thought back to what the triggering event was and realized it was ole’ dad using his strong arm technique of “do it or else” when asking him to stop playing with his toys and get ready for lunch. It was such a small thing and should never have happened if I had “had my Bryan on”.

Just thinking back on this brings a wave of shame. It was nothing or should have been nothing. Just an opportunity to sit with him for a few minutes and love him, maybe play with him for a bit, then help him transition and gently move forward to lunch. This I have also done so many times since with much success.

It was this humongous failure on my part that helped me to redefine who I wanted to be.

This was a long confession to what should have been a short intro to Susan’s article. Don’t take it too seriously, but seriously read it. Read it and think about it, as I think the questions may be more important than the answers.

Dear Santa, please define “Good”?

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He’s making a list
And checking it twice
He’s going to find out who’s naughty or nice
So be good for goodness’ sake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness’ sake

Seriously? Do you think if our kids are bad they won’t get anything under the tree for Christmas? Do we scare our children, especially our adopted/foster ones by telling them this tale? I know, I have told it over the years to my kids.

It would be a lot cheaper on the parents if we could do that, but I think we would feel bad in the end, and do our children and ourselves a dis-service. I have thought many times as this season has approached.“If child doesn’t straighten up, stay in school, stop stealing and lying, I am NOT getting him anything. That will teach him I am serious this time.”

Then the big sale notice came from Best Buy for the game system $100.00 off the regular price if I buy TODAY. I better get it or I will miss the deal. While shopping for the other kids I see things I know he will love, so better get it now. Before I know it I have bought him his whole Christmas list and more. Oh well, I still love him and he is “good” now and then. I am not supposed to ‘punish’ him because of his behavior; I am supposed to love unconditionally. I keep forgetting that part.

What if I use fear-based parenting that only serves to produce more defiant behaviors in our children, should I get no presents for Christmas?

As the holidays get closer, I have to keep reminding myself that my child gets so stressed and excited that he will act out at home, in school and anywhere else we go. I have to remember what Bryan says in his CD/e-book Holiday Peace: How to Turn Holiday Stress into Peaceful Family Time. I have to relax and keep him close as we go to the parties and family gatherings.

So I want to ask you Santa, this question that my husband asked me when we were talking about good and bad. Please define good? Where do you draw the line? Do you have a different list for good and bad than God? What does God say ‘good’ means? I know at least in the Christian tradition—and there many religious traditions, we have the 10 Commandments. But really, there are very few that apply to kids.

Honoring your father and your mother maybe, but where is the line here? Once, twice, thrice? What age does this one expire at? How about stealing? Once, twice, thrice? Never? The same goes for lying. If our children cannot control their behaviors because of “amygdala hi-jacking” as Dr. Bruce Perry refers to, which leaves a child’s brain so hard wired that they will “protect themselves” at any cost, are they really wrong or bad?

Does God withhold His gifts because we aren’t as good as we should be? How much good is good enough? Where is the line here Santa? Tough questions, yet the answers are even tougher. If our kids lie, steal, cut, act defiantly because they feel threatened or insecure, should we ‘take away’ to teach them, rather than help them move past their fears of survival?

My answer is that everyone does things that are or look ‘bad’ in others’ eyes, But this does not make us bad people, and doesn’t make our children bad. We all know what terrible people look like, but underneath it all, they all have a story that led them to be the people they are.

They suspended my son from 2 different schools on the same day for two different reasons during the 3rd week of school and kicked off the bus. They then sent him to an alternative school. They have suspended him from the car that takes him there, also suspended him from this school. He is still getting into trouble at home doing things he knows, or should know better.

I can only say, Christmas is coming, I can make it worse on everyone by dwelling on these behaviors or I can just love this child and have fun during this stressful time. I think I will choose love and have fun this year.

Have a Merry Christmas and a blessed Holiday Season.—Susan Durovy

“Engrave this upon your heart: there isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.”—Mary Lou Kownacki

— Choose love

As always with these invitations to contemplate, don’t just read this and move on. Read it a few times with time in-between for deeper understanding. Read it repeatedly over the course of a few days to delve even deeper into its greater meaning and application.

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