This excellent and unique parenting manual uses Taoist wisdom as the basis of spiritual child-rearing practices. William Martin, the father of two grown children, has been a student of the Tao for ten years. He and his wife Nancy operate The Still Point, an educational and consulting center in Chico, California. He conducts workshops and seminars on subjects including tai chi chuan, Zen, stages of spiritual development, meditation, and religious burnout.

Martin presents "a rendering of the Tao specifically for parents. He has distilled the essence of each of the 81 chapters of the Tao Te Ching and expanded it into what he calls a combination of free verse and pointed advice. He rightly believes that the great themes of this religious classic have relevance to parent-child relationships.

Here are some of the themes covered in this paperback:

• Take Care with Labels
• Accept the Mysteries of Your Child
• Model Contentment
• Don't Try to Live Through Them
• Demonstrate to Them the Value of Openness
• Avoid Endless Talking and Scolding
• Try Not to be Overly Protective
• Know that Everything You Do is a Teaching
• Treat Yourself with Tender Care
• Love and Guide without Controlling
• Look for the Natural Virtues of Your Offspring
• Put Aside Your Agendas for Your Kids
• Let Your Children Plan Their Own Education
• Respect the Goodness and the Free Spirit of Your Children

There are so many good passages that it is hard to pick one as an example, but here goes:

Happiness Is Contagious

"If you always compare your children's abilities
to those of great athletes, entertainers, and
they will lose their own power.
If you urge them to acquire and achieve,
they will learn to cheat and steal
to meet your expectations.
Encourage you children's deepest joys,
not their superficial desires.
Praise their patience,
not their ambition.
Do not value the distractions and diversions
that masquerade as success.
They will learn to hear their own voice
instead of the noise of the crowd.

If you teach them to achieve
they will never be content.
If you teach them contentment,
they will naturally achieve everything.

We all want our children to be happy.
Somehow, some way today
show them something that makes you happy,
something you truly enjoy.
Your own happiness is contagious.
They learn the art from you."