Conscious Parenting Is About Raising Ourselves Before Our Children

  • I fully accept that parenting is about raising myself, not my child.
  • I realize that the onus for change lies solely with me, not my child.
  • I am aware that my struggles are reflections of inner conflicts.
  • I will transform each challenge into a question that asks, “What does this say about me?”

~ “Affirmations To Raise Oneself”, The Awakened Family by Shefali Tsabary

Conscious Parenting Is About Raising Ourselves Before Our Children

Conscious Parenting Is About ‘Bringing Forth’, Not ‘Belonging’

This poem by the wise poet Kahlil Gibran has been an inspiration and a guide ever since I was pregnant with Lia. It can be a rather shocking idea for some parents, but I hope in here you will find some truths to our role as ‘parents’. The way that we’ve learn to parent our children involves control, manipulation (no matter how creative it appears to be, or how we think we’re ‘disciplining’ them), “should”s and “no”s and “I know better than you”s. In our wanting the best for them, we take on living their lives for them unknowingly – after all, they ‘belong’ to us because they are ‘from us’, right?

That might be true biologically, but if you reference the origin of the word (Latin ‘parent’), it means ‘bringing forth’.  Nope, there’s nothing about owning them in there. Instead, it means as parents, we are tasked a role as their guardians to ‘bring them forth’ into themselves.

Here’s how Kahlil puts it elegantly:

“Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

~ “On The Children”, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Conscious Parenting Is About ‘Bringing Forth’, Not ‘Belonging’

Conscious Parenting Holds Up The Mirror

“The conscious parent may make as many mistakes as any other, but the difference is that they are able to face those mistakes and then ask themselves,”What do these mistakes say about how I need to grow?””

~ “Myth #1: Parenting Is About The Child”, The Awakened Family by Shefali Tsabary

It is common for us to feel guilt, anger or sadness directed at ourselves AFTER we commit a ‘parenting mistake’. We punish ourselves for our mistakes by directing guilt, anger or shame within, but blaming ourselves doesn’t forward or grow us. In fact, indulging in such behavior is a way to let ourselves off the hook. This indulgence distracts us from being honest to ourselves, because that might be painful. Learning how we played a part in the mistake means reflecting on the thoughts and behaviors that might’ve unleashed unconsciously.

The best way to serve your child is to love yourself by getting wiser and fixing these mistakes.

Conscious Parenting Holds Up The Mirror

Conscious Parenting Is A Partnership

“At the baby’s birth, we start from level 0. Both parent and child then progress and grow, learning together, learning about each other. Even with your 2nd and 3rd child, you start from 0 again, because each child is different.”

Wise words from the beautiful Rimi Yoshida, a Body Code and Emotion Code practitioner.

As adults we see ourselves as an authority to our children… why is this so? Who gave us the authority to make ourselves the authority? We start the same time they start! From Level 0! Which makes parent and child partners instead.

Partners learn to get along with each other. Partners negotiate. Partners argue and make up. Partners love each other deeply despite differences. Partners respect each other and learn to communicate with each other.

Let’s free ourselves from getting stuck in an Authoritarian role. It is tiring and stressful to pretend to know everything. Acknowledge this partnership. Partnering is a journey that encompasses adaptability and flexibility, allowing it to be fun and fulfilling for all.

 

Conscious Parenting Is A Partnership

Conscious Parenting & The Gift of Presence

Carol Dweck and Claudia Mueller’s famous 1998 study revealed the effects that praise has on a child’s relationship to achievement.

128 children were asked to solve math problems. 1 group was praised for their intellect (“you’re so clever!”) and the other for their effort  (“you must have tried very hard”). When given more complex problems next, the kids praised for intellect struggled more, whilst those praised for effort worked harder at the challenge. The kids praised for intellect showed lower task persistence, enjoyment and performance. When asked to report their task scores to an external group, they inflated their scores. This group of kids learned to define intelligence as a fixed trait, and showed signs of distress when they experienced a set back in their achievements.

So instead of practicing excessive praise, what could we do instead?

Notice when you dish out empty praise. It’s likely that the words “good girl!” or “clever boy” roll off your tongue without much thought. It take effort to respond to a child’s effort or achievement. Conscious parenting challenges you to firstly notice what you say automatically.

But more than that, a healthier alternative to praise could be simply ‘keen attentiveness’ paid to the child:

“I once watched Charlotte* with a four-year-old boy, who was drawing. When he stopped and looked up at her — perhaps expecting praise — she smiled and said, ‘There is a lot of blue in your picture.’ He replied, ‘It’s the pond near my grandmother’s house — there is a bridge.’ He picked up a brown crayon, and said, ‘I’ll show you.’ Unhurried, she talked to the child, but more importantly she observed, she listened. She was present. Being present, whether with children, with friends, or even with oneself, is always hard work. But isn’t this attentiveness — the feeling that someone is trying to think about us — something we want more than praise?”

*Charlotte Stiglitz, the mother of the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz

~ “How praise can cause a loss of confidence”, The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves, by Stephen Grosz

Conscious Parenting & The Gift of Presence

Conscious Parenting Allows Our Child To Be Our Light

“We need to give birth to a new vision of parenting. This vision would be based on what we know about the special bond between parent and child, through which even ordinary communication is a sacrament. It would be based on the reverance for what our children can bring to us, as well as what we can bring to them.

By their light, we see what is hurt and hidden within ourselves, and we open creatively to new ways of responding to problems. Through them, we understand that parenting is a spiritual process in which we get back tenfold the love we give.

This is different from old models of parenting, which have been parent centered and based on the idea that the parent is a static figure, all-seeing and all-knowing. It is also different from newer models of parenting that are excessively child-centered and equally out of balance.

We are reaching toward a new model in which the parent-child relationship is at the center. The emphasis is on maintaining the quality of the relationship rather than serving the needs of one person at the expense of the other.

Many of us parents are entranched in our own view of the world. We don’t think of our child-rearing problems as harbingers of healing. Often what we see is disrespectful, uncooperative children who make life difficult for us.

Even when we are in conflict with them-perhaps especially then- children can give us information about ourselves that we can’t get any other way. Our children can be a light for us if we let them.

We take a step toward conscious parenting when we understand how our painful moments with our children can become a road map for our own healing journey. Follow the map, and we don’t have to walk over the same broken ground over and over again. We can find a new path.”

~ Giving The Love That Heals by Harville Hendrix Ph.D and Helen Lakelly Hunt, Ph.D.

Conscious Parenting Allows Our Child To Be Our Light

Conscious Parenting Encourages Authenticity

Instead of:

  • Obsessing over conformity, perfect behaviour and outward appearances, I will encourage genuineness in my child.
  • Praising compliance, I will praise the courage to be authentic.
  • Demanding obedience, I will encourage self-expression.

~ “Shifting from ‘Goodness’ to Authenticity”, The Awakened Family by Shefali Tsabary

Conscious Parenting Encourages Authenticity