Conscious Parenting – A paradigm shift
There are many styles of parenting that have evolved over the years and that you may have heard of. Conscious Parenting is not so much a parenting style or strategy, rather it is a way of being, a way of living. It encourages us to take a more informed approach to parenting and invites us to view parenting from a fresh perspective, different to what we as a society have come to define and perceive parenting as. I like to think of it as understanding and reclaiming what parenthood is really about. With that in mind, I have tried to give a little insight into what conscious parenting is all about and encapsulate its essence through some reflection points below.
Each child is unique in nature and temperament
“Once you accept your children’s basic nature, you can contour your style to meet their temperament. To do so means letting go of your fantasies of yourself as a certain kind of parent and instead evolving into the parent you need to be for the particular child in front of you.”– Dr. Shefali Tsabary
This quote encapsulates the understanding of the unique essence of every child. It encapsulates how aligning ourselves with their individuality helps them to discover themselves, allows them to flourish in their own authenticity and spirit and enables their growth.
While we may intellectually understand this, the ways in which we end up doing disservice to a child’s authentic selves are insidious and often.
Typically when I speak to parents, the most common response of how they honour their child’s spirit is that they encourage their child in areas where they are showing interest such as ‘playing football’ or ‘joining art classes’. While this is an important part of honouring them, it is honouring a part of their being, not their whole being.
How do we accept and honour their nature when they are not doing what we ask of them? How do we accept and honour their nature when they are having a meltdown? How do we honour their nature when they are being “disrespectful”?
Being able to honour and accept their nature in such situations isn’t the same as agreeing with them, rather it’s about guiding them while keeping their essence intact and without shaming them.
Accepting a child’s unique essence is about honouring their emotional selves, their spiritual selves; it’s about honouring them holistically.
There is no linear way of parenting, it’s an ever-evolving, ever-changing journey
“Conscious parenting enables us to understand, attune and respond to the child’s needs that may be required at any given moment.”– Priyanka Jain
There are many parenting “strategies” and “styles” out there when it comes to handling different situations with children. Most strategies aren’t evidence based and have the complete opposite effect than intended even if it may not seem so in the short-term, such as ‘time-outs’. It’s easy to adhere to strategies because it’s convenient since we don’t really need to think about what we are doing. ‘If the child does X, we do Y’. And yet it is precisely this which leads to disconnection and conflict with our children. When we act in auto-pilot mode through a prescribed set of strategies, we end up ignoring what the child in front of us actually needs.
On the journey of Conscious Parenting, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach towards children and certain situations, we start to attune to their needs and tailor our approach. We begin asking questions such as; Does this moment require me to set a boundary? Does this moment require me to let go? Does this moment require me to connect more?
The holistic development of the child depends on the emotional and spiritual evolution of the parent
“Conscious parenting is a new paradigm shift in the way we look at our roles as parents. It’s turning the spot light away from fixing the child and managing the child, obsession with all things that have to do with the child and the child centric approach and really focusing on the evolution of the parent. It about fully understanding that unless the parent has raised themselves to a certain level of emotional integration and maturity, they will really not be able to do true service to the child’s spirit.”– Dr. Shefali Tsabary
Despite our intentions and insights we may have regarding our child’s development, we’ve all been in situations where it can be hard to access our higher selves and take the mindful path in the moment when we are ourselves triggered.
Focusing on our own growth is a huge part of the missing piece of the puzzle in the parenting paradigm. There is no doubt that we all love our children and want the best for them and because of this we think everything we do is right for them, however, there can often be a gap between what we intend and the actual effect – so is the case with parenting.
A vital part in enabling children to authentically flourish is understanding that we ourselves are shaped by our experiences and our environment, especially in our childhood, which is deeply embedded in our subconscious.
Identifying the ways in which our life has uniquely shaped us is key, because it drives our interactions and determines our connection with our children. Instead of parenting from awareness and an informed approach, we end up parenting from our belief systems and generational patterns that are deeply buried in our subconscious, whether that is the way we intend to parent or not.
Until and unless we become aware of our own conditioning and work towards breaking the cycle, our thoughts and actions remain guided by our unconscious belief systems and we continue to project them on to our children.
By bringing that which is deep within our subconscious to the forefront, into our awareness, and working towards creating that space between ourselves and our conditioning, we are able to attune to our children, support their growth and parent more mindfully.
How can Conscious Parenting help?
When we embark on this journey, the perspective shifts from the parent-child relationship being seen as a hierarchical relationship to a symbiotic relationship, where both the parent and the child learn from each other. Children show us the ways in which we are conditioned and we have the opportunity to evolve and nurture them mindfully.
On this journey of parental evolution, both the parent and the child are helped in a multitude of ways which include:
- Navigating through the many different challenges of parenthood such as power struggles, melt downs, sibling rivalry and more
- Building a strong and deep connection with yourself as well as your children
- Understanding and accepting the child in front of you for who they are
- Understanding the underlying reasons for your kid’s behaviour
- Understanding the underlying reasons for your own triggers
- Identifying your patterns & emotional wounds that are causing barriers in your relationship with your children
- Taking care of your own needs to hold space for your child’s needs
- Developing a better sense of self-worth within you and your children
- Developing & enhancing important foundational life skills such as resilience and emotional regulation within yourself and your children
- Developing self-compassion as you navigate the challenges of parenthood
- Parenting with compassion
- Engaging with your child not just on a physical level but also emotionally
- Empowering your children to become self-driven, fulfilled and responsible adults
- Improving communication with your children
- Setting appropriate boundaries with love and respect
- Responding rather than reacting to your child’s needs
- Learning mindfulness tools & techniques