The Conscious Parenting Journey
What is Conscious Parenting?
Conscious Parenting cannot necessarily be categorized as a "parenting style". It is rather more a parenting journey undertaken by those who have chosen a path of radical self-exploration, fearless observation, and a desire to be deeply authentic and connected to ones own essence. Conscious parenting is about transforming our own selves to better empower our children while supporting the essence of who they are. It requires intentional practice of loosening the tight grasp we hold on our own egos and the projection of them that our children often bare. It is essential we nurture our children with a profound acceptance of who they inherently are at the core of their being. Conscious Parenting embodies the profound idea that our children were brought onto this earth to teach us how to transform our own selves and heal ourselves of past wounds that have left lasting impressions on our hearts. It is the idea that our children are the key to unlock our own enlightenment.
Why do I need to become "more" conscious?
You may be saying, "well I am already conscious. I am here aren't I?". The level of consciousness is dependent on the level of internal integration we can cultivate as adults. As we grew up we all developed "shadows" or dark parts of ourselves. These shadows have followed us throughout our whole lives beginning in early childhood. Some of us were bullied in school others were held to an extraordinarily high standard. Some of us had controlling parents while others had parents with very little involvement at all. We all have dealt with the emotions of not feeling good enough, coming up short, being ignored, and mistreated. Over time our shadows grow and grow, holding in unprocessed emotions. Our job as a conscious parent is to understand our internal landscape and learn how to bring that dark part of ourselves into the light. It requires vigorous honesty, deep vulnerability, and authenticity with yourself and your child. The interesting twist to all of this is that our children and their essence shines brighter than ours. They have not dealt with 10 years of abuse or a broken heart or the miscarriage of a baby. Their souls are untouched by the anguish many of us have felt throughout our lives.
What can my children teach me?
Imagine you are running late for a mommy-and-me class with your child. You are 3 minutes behind so you scramble out the door holding your toddler's hand not because you want to enjoy the warmth and comfort that it brings but because you want to be able to keep the pace and get there as quickly as possible. Half way there your toddler stops in amazement at a berry bush and points out how they are the color red. He asks to eat a few and, looking at your watch, you say, "No! We are going to be late!" Your toddler does not care if he is 3 minutes late to his Judo class. You care, and the only reason you care is because you don't want to be seen as "that mom who was late". Our own ego snatched a beautiful moment away from a bewildered child. We do these types of things all the time without even noticing we are slowly chipping away at our children's beautiful ability to go with the flow and embrace what truly matters, the present moment. Our children have so much to teach us about ourselves. They remind us how to play and how to bring joy back into our lives. Once we are able to recognize our children are the key to the answers we have been seeking as adults, we are also able to realize they are our greatest teachers. They exemplify what it really means to be present with our feet planted in the earth beneath us. They are not concerned about the past and they are not set on future plans. They stop to watch the butterflies and gawk in awe and amazement as they flutter by. They approach new situations with an astounding sense of wonder and admiration for the unknown. Everything is new and fresh and magical when you are a child, can you remember? I recall a story from Mr. Tompkins in Paperback by George Gamow where a family was sitting at the dining table having dinner when the father began to magically float off of his chair and was suspended in mid-air as if gravity was no longer present. The mother began screaming having grown accustomed to the laws of gravity and knowing, logically, that this was indeed impossible. There was a baby at the table who stared up at her daddy and smiled as if nothing exceptional has happened. The baby laughed as the mother ran in circles wondering if she should call 911 or grab the video camera. Young children are not yet conditioned by the world around them. The moment presented here in this story is not extraordinary to the baby because simply everything is extraordinary to the baby. Every day is filled with new experiences that are magical. Ordinary things us adults find commonplace children revel in. Remember when you bought your son that expensive toy car and instead he played in the box it came in? Our children can essentially re-teach us how to find magic in the world around us. They remind us what it is like to play and go about our lives in a more carefree way. They can display to us how a human being embodies presence in this world. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, they will lead the way towards a deep conscious connection with ourselves.
How can I take the first steps towards becoming a more conscious parent?
- First and foremost, purchasing a copy of The Conscious Parent by Shefali, Tsabary, PHD is a wonderful place to start. Her books are a wonderful resource to help learn what Conscious Parenting is all about and how to begin incorporating it into your life. You can purchase your copy here >>> https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=9781897238455&tag=randohouseinc12746-2
- Make time to intentionally sit with your child and observe them as if they are teaching you. When they get frustrated or angry how do you respond? What occurs in your inner landscape? How can you respond from a place of love, patience, and understanding that nurtures your child's essence?
- Begin to accept with your whole being who your child inherently is at their core even if it doesn't align with who you are at your core.
- Remind your children often how special they are. Tell them this when they are sitting quietly just existing in the moment. Let them know that you appreciate them just being there and that it brings you tremendous joy being around them. These moments create deep bonds and connection between parent and child. So often we only praise our children when their behavior is exemplary or when they do what they are told. Hardly ever do we thank our children for just existing in our lives.
- Allow your ego to soften and try your hardest not to attach it or your own ideas onto your child and your child's behavior.
- Create space in your life to breed calm and turn your focus towards the moments of connection being most important. The activities that fill our and our children's days come second.
- Realize that different children require different parenting approaches especially in regards to discipline. What works for one child may not work for another. Stay away from any "cookie cutter" approaches. Parent and discipline based on each child's individual needs.
- Parent from a place of fierce, courageous, love (a slogan coined by the yoga studio I practice at called Yoga Riot. Isn't it great?!)
Parenting is an amazing journey or self-discovery and my hope for you is that through conscious parenting you can allow your children to mend and nurture your own soul to become the best parent and person you can be. Children shine a bright light on the world around them and it is our pleasure to be surrounded by that beautiful energy. One of my amazing yoga instructors ends every class with this, "May all of your thoughts be kind ones. May you taste your words before you spit them out. May all your actions be done out of love." And with that, I wish you the most amazing and extraordinary discoveries on your journey towards enlightenment.