Should We Start A Parenting Revolution?
I love my children, as most mothers do. I endured a tremendous level of struggle to give birth to the two living children I have. This struggle included being pregnant four times. I have experienced a miscarriage, a full-term stillbirth, a full-term natural birth, and a full-term vaginal birth with pain medication. I fought the good fight to become a mother. Yet and still, my struggles to motherhood have not excused me from the reality that raising children is very hard.
After delivering our oldest daughter, our Pastor called to congratulate us and offer some words of wisdom. To quote him verbatim he said, “this ain’t for no punks.” I have since learned that he was absolutely correct, but why is parenting so hard?
Meet Dr. Shefali Tsabary author of 2010 bestseller, “The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children.”
“Children carry a blueprint within them, they are often already in touch with who they are and what they want to be in the world. We are chosen as their parents to help them actualize this. The trouble is that if we do not pay close attention to them, we rob them of their right to live out their destiny. We end up imposing on them our own vision for them, rewriting their spiritual purpose according to our whims.”
Recently, The Washington Post interviewed Dr. Shefali Tsabary about her mission to change the way we as parents think about our relationship with our children. In her new book, “The Awakened Family: A Revolution for Parenting” released May 31, 2016, Dr. Shefali discusses the idea that maybe it is us, as parent, who need to change and not our children.
Dr. Shefali is not alone in her thinking. Many great minds held to high esteem across the globe agree with her. His Holiness The Dalai Lama, himself, wrote the preface for bestseller, “The Conscious Parent.”
Dr. Shefali’s parenting philosophy is that a successful, fun, and mutually beneficial parent-child relationship is at its core a partnership on life instead of a dictatorship.
For many parents, hearing a viewpoint as such is like trying to mix oil and water. Culturally speaking, as an African American woman, the phrase “children are to be seen and not heard” comes to mind.
And, the list goes on. “Sit still and be quiet.”
“Don’t touch anything.”
“Because I said so.”
“I’m the boss.”
“Stay in a child’s place.”
“Do as you are told.”
“Listen to me.”
Dr. Shefali would ask, but are we listening to our children? And I agree.
My experience as a parent has not been difficult or challenging because my children do not listen. My children are children exploring this life, and it is to be expected that some margin of trial and error and testing the waters will appear.
My experience as a parent has been difficult, because my pathway to success requires letting go of my own ideals about how things are suppose to be. I cannot connect with my children and their happiness as a type A, impatient, high-strung, and low tolerance control freak. I cannot enjoy my children if I am anxious of everything outside of my management. I cannot love my children unconditionally without compassion, patience, and forgiveness. All of which requires me to worry less, laugh more, and be present as much as possible.
My children’s relentlessness to help me relax and let go of my own anxiety, fears, and doubts about life has challenged me more than any alleged behavior issues. The task of going against culture and ideals to always put our families true needs for love and connection first is at the root of my parenthood challenge.
Dr. Shefali puts it best:
“When I speak of our children transforming us as parents, don’t for a moment imagine I’m advocating relinquishing our influence on our children and becoming their minions. As much as conscious parenting is about listening to our children, honoring their essence, and being fully present with them, it’s also about boundaries and discipline. As a parent, we are required to provide our children not only the basics of shelter, food, and education, but also to teach them the value of structure, appropriate containment of their emotions, and such skills as reality testing. In other words, conscious parenting encompasses all aspects of bringing up a child to be a well-rounded, balanced member of the human race.”
So is this the solution to our challenges as parents? Are we to forego trying to control our children, and instead listen to their intrinsic and pure desires to be true to themselves, unscathed by culture and society? Can the challenges of parenthood be eased by a revolution in our own minds?
People always compliment my husband and me on how happy and free-spirited our children are. What they don’t know is that our children’s happiness comes from our own internal, messy, and gritty battle to be true to ourselves and act accordingly.
What are your thoughts and experiences? We’d love to hear!
Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience, a multi-media inspirational platform. She resides in Philadelphia, Pa with her husband, their two baby girls, and a yorkie named Ace.