As a conscious parent coach, I have worked with many families who find themselves “at battle” with their children. Whether it is not listening to what is being asked of them and throwing tantrums around not getting want they want, to facing challenges with school matters or bedtime routines. These are amongst some of the most common situations. I too have personally experienced each of these upset moments multiple times through my daughter’s six years of life. And not always with the most conscious approach.
Voyaging into Conscious Parenting
I entered motherhood at the prime age of 39 with many fantasies of how it was supposed to look and how “my” child was going to be “easy”. I had a plan and I was “in control.” So delusional was I to think my daughter would follow my way, no matter how loving and convenient it felt to me. To add, she was born a full month and a day “before her scheduled date” which was just the beginning of letting me know it was all going to be on her time, not mine. Thus it would be precisely through the divine spirit of this child that I would be called to “grow up” more than I ever realized possible. All I had ever thought before entering motherhood was about to be shaken and stirred. It provoked a deep awakening within my own being.
Parents, You Are Not Alone
I share a bit about the onset of my journey to first let you know—you are NOT alone.
You are exactly where you are meant to be in this moment.
You have the exact child(ren) you are meant to have. Their divine being called you into their spiritual path, just as you called them into yours.They are there to help you awaken your own inner child, to mirror back to you all your unmet needs and conditioned beliefs from your own childhood and ultimately to rise to your highest most authentic self.
Allowing Your Child to Raise Your Consciousness
The behaviors we witness at the surface level from our children are never what meets the eye but rather a manifestation of what they are feeling inside themselves. Their behaviors is a way to let us know we need to rise up in our own being and raise our level of consciousness to meet their true needs exactly where they are.
So yes, we parents are naturally inclined to get triggered by our children’s behaviors. We may feel like we are the ones being “victimized” when our children act out. This behavior is an invitation to turn the lens inward, to attune with all that is coming in reaction to our children’s behavior. This way, we can get a true picture of what is happening before our eyes. We should take this opportunity to react not in an ego-based manner with yelling, screaming, hitting, punishing, controlling and shaming, but rather, respond in an essence-based manner, with greater consciousness.
The mnemonic I use in times of stress or in the face of unwanted behavior from children is P.E.A.C.E. It is important to be present, empathetic, accepting, connected and empowering when dealing with your child and yourself. In this way we can truly be in tune with our conscious selves and act as the best parent we can be for our child.
Being “present” —to life, to our breath, to our thoughts and feelings and to the moment before us—gets lost somewhere between our mind wandering through the past and anticipating the future.
Why? Primarily because we have not been conditioned to “being” in the “now”. We are called human beings for a reason yet through our human nature conditioning and generational patterns we are not taught to go inward but rather look externally for validation, acceptance, approval and worthiness. To “measure up” and feel our own sense of place in the culture and society that has unfolded before us, we either look at what we have not done or we build anxiety around what we have yet to do. The past unconsciously keeps us stuck in our fears or our story of lack; saying things within our own mind like “I am not good enough,” or “I am not loved” or “I am not smart enough.” The future, on the other hand, is where we seek to become more, to be successful, to desire what we think we don’t have now.
So how does this relate to being present for our children? To understand that if we ourselves are not presently attuned to what is happening within our own inner terrain, we will falsely observe and act disconnected from our children’s behavior. We will not attend to the needs which their behavior is communicating to us. Children are most authentic when it comes to their feelings—they don’t plan on throwing a tantrum, they don’t maliciously decide to “go crazy” on us. Their external behaviors are a manifestation of what they need internally from us.
Our presence is more than physical presence—it’s energetically vibrational. This also means to be present and attuned with our children socially, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually. To be present in our parenting with our children requires a deep awareness of ourselves so we can connect with them in any given moment that comes before us.
Asking questions such as:
- Do I really hear what my child is saying or asking of me—verbal and non-verbal?
- Can I clearly see what my child’s behavior is telling me outside of my own ego and judgment?
- Am I honoring and validating my child’s feelings?
- Am I aware of how I am showing up to my child (my vibrational energy)?
These simple yet profound guiding questions enable us to stay in the moment with complete consciousness and to embrace what that moment is there to teach us. As we condition our own brain to become more present—with meditation being the key to building that part of our frontal cortex—we gain more strength which bestows patience when life is not smooth sailing.
Empathy is when we feel with others and endure with them. We are empathetic and understanding to their experience and emotions. As we become more compassionate with the needs of our children in those unpredictable moments we learn to remain calm, to pause, breathe and assess the reasons for their actions. While it may not be about us per se, we need to determine if any part of our personal energies are creating an upset within our child.
We can embody and empathetic connection with our children by:
Staying present to our own triggers/ego and detaching ourselves from them so we can be attuned to the needs of our child. Ask:
- What am I called to learn in this moment both for myself and my child?
- What am I called to learn through the situation before me?
Being fully aware of the reason the tantrum or difficulty is taking place and recognizing the elements that have lead up to that moment. We can look inward and ask ourselves these questions:
- Is this occurring because I have not set the right boundaries?
- Am I creating a resistance (ego) of my own and causing an unconscious power struggle?
- Is this a recurring pattern in which I need to re-evaluate my own possible agenda or inner lack and provide more clarity with my child?
- Do I need to do a better job to communicate with my child in advance and explain the matter so it does not manifest into a tantrum over and again?
- Is my child tired/hungry/seeking my attention?
- What is my child mirroring back to me in this moment in which I have yet to learn and grow from?
Through our continued consciousness and awakening moments with our children, we learn to where to “be the container” and “create a boundary” to help remain present, empathetic and connected in all given parenting situations.
Acceptance first begins with us—without judgment, guilt or shame—and instead embraces each part of our being through self-love, self-acceptance, and self-awareness. It takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to turn the mirror inward and go deep within to realize just how much we have suppressed to avoid pain. As a result, we become numb and cannot feel the residue that has been building up over the years.
If we do not accept ourselves in our innate wholeness, we will have a hard time truly accepting our own children as they are. We will unconsciously project all of our unmet needs onto them. We will expect of them to fulfill areas of our lives where we otherwise feel void and rob them of embracing their own worth. Our children feel this energy a mile away and build their own barriers to protect themselves when they don’t feel accepted in their pure existence. Conversely, they will begin to alter the very amazing aspects that make them unique just to feel worthy or valued. To accept our children in their as-is being is to see them in their most divine and limitless essence. They are perfect as they are and they don’t need to prove anything to us or others to fit in or feel accepted by external measures.
Connectivity is foundational to conscious parenting. It is a vital key to creating healthy, loving, enriching and thriving relationships with our children. Only when we first connect with ourselves, we then learn how to truly connect with our children—allowing the space to be in their company from a place of wholeness, not absence. When our children lose control of their emotions it usually happens because we are not connected to their true needs, we are lost in our own “agenda” or meeting our own needs, it becomes the battle of the wills.
Connecting to your child requires us to elevate our awareness and be attuned to them. Attuning ourselves to them will allow us to intuitively know the inner workings of their heart in any given moment. We recognize when they are disconnected from themselves or others. We set boundaries/limits that will serve their highest spirit. We know when to be silent and listen to what they are saying between the lines. We create the conditions where our children feel safe to come to us and share anything on their heart and mind—without being criticized, judged or shamed. This takes daily moment-to-moment practice. Over time the connection grows stronger and stronger.
Empowerment is something many of us were not given from our own parents as children. Through no fault of their own, they were parenting from the same mindset as their own parents. Often we were told to “do as you’re told,” “don’t talk back,” and “respect your elders.” We complied for fear of not wanting to disappoint and to avoid conflict.To our parents, we were seen as “lesser than” and were seldom offered a choice, so we followed the path of least resistance. Through this unconscious belief system that generations have passed down, our inner lights were dimmed. We may have struggled to find and honor our inner voice, and then, to stay true to our authentic self.
Embracing Conscious Parenting
Conscious parenting turns the traditional parenting paradigm upside down. Instead, it teaches us to see our children as our “spiritual teachers”. Through their mirroring of our projections, they invite us to raise ourselves and our inner child whose unmet needs are still within. They allow us to recognize where we have yet to grow before we can truly and consciously raise our own children.
When we choose to embrace the mindset that our children are our equals, we honor their spirit as separate from ours. In this way we liberate their essence, we empower them to use their voice, speak their truth, honor their thoughts, involve them in choices, listen to their feelings and teach them of their inherent worthiness.
They will not have to look externally for validation or acceptance because they already feel it within. Our job is to usher them along their path of life. Through our Presence, Empathy, Acceptance and Connection, we Empower them to rise to their highest being and serve their life calling as they were meant.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Turkinator.