Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece and is not intended to attack anyone’s style of parenting, but merely to present what we as new parents are considering to adopt with our son. We hope that it perhaps adds something valuable to your parenting style.
Ok, now that I got your attention with that title – let’s dial into what it actually means. ‘Conscious Parenting’ is not a set of rules for parents to follow but a set of beliefs about what children need to develop and thrive. I first came across the term and the philosophy while listening to an Oprah Super Soul Sunday podcast with Dr Shefali Tsabary. It blew my mind and left me wanting to know more.
Dr. Shefali is one of the pioneers of conscious parenting. In her book ‘The Conscious Parent – Transforming ourselves, Empowering our Children’ – “It’s a tremendous privilege to raise children, though for a quite different reason than most of us who are parents imagine.” While we think it’s our responsibility to mold and shape our children’s future, the essential premise of Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s A Call to Conscious Parenting is that our children are born to us to create deep internal transformation within us.
So what she means is, our children with each of their unique personality traits are there to teach us more about ourselves. For me personally, I tend to be a very impatient person, and since my son Esa has arrived he has tested my patience – teaching me everyday to be a more patient person. Dr. Shefali says, when a child acts out, don’t be so quick to ask what is wrong with the child, but rather – what has this moment and this child come to teach me about myself.
At this point you may be thinking – wow, Wardah – this seems like some new age crap. But let me ask you this, if you think about the way your parents parented you – while knowing they did the best they could with what they knew, I am sure there are some areas you hope to be better at with your kids. For me, it’s the same. Firstly – it’s been scientifically proven violence and abusive behaviour with children doesn’t work in the long run, it causes far reaching damage on them even as adults.
Putting unnecessary pressure on children to get high grades at school and push them in the direction parents believe is best has resulted in countless suicides when children don’t reach those expectations.
“How we learn to respond or react to life is driven by our interactions with others and the patterns which are set up in early childhood form the basis of our future relationships – including the one we have with ourselves.
As we mature, we collect, sort, and file away our emotional experiences as reference points.
A foundation of self-regulation, resiliency, and attachment is built – memory after memory – shaping our perspective, beliefs, self-concept, and outlook. Everything can be completely changed – mood, behaviors, emotional intelligence, the ability to give and receive empathy, cognitive processing and even our immune function – by altering how we experience our primary relationships and close attachments.” – Teach Through Love.com
With conscious parenting the idea is to support you child in achieving their measure of success. So you may say – well “If I leave them to their own devices, their measure of success could be living on my couch for the rest of their life,” – no, not if you’re setting the right examples by living the example of being hard working, passionate about what you do and living a healthy balanced life – remember children learn the most from what they see not what they get told. I can already see this with my 21 month son – we never told him the sequence in which we make our breakfast smoothie but he knows when my husband gets the oats out the cupboard, my son runs to get the protein tub. How would he know to do this if we have never told him to do this – he watched us day after day and learnt the routine, the habit. With the same token, these little sponges (kids) are absorbing everything we say and do around them.
The world is changing at a rapid rate and I believe as modern parents we have got to change the way we relate to our children. With the digital age, it is so easy for predators to get to our children and for bullies to hurt them so it is more important than ever for us to adapt and change the way we relate to our kids. We can no longer use the tactics of the previous generation of just using authoritarian/ dictatorship style parenting – it just won’t work and will have our kids be easy pickings for the vultures out there.
So hence my exploration of better ways to parent my son. I am learning as I go and I will no doubt make mistakes along the way too, no one’s perfect. However, my husband and I want to be the kind of parents that our son feels comfortable to speak to about anything, that will support his dreams and life goals even if they do not match our personal measures of success.
Studies have already shown that for the generation of children born now many of their careers do not exist yet and university degrees will become increasingly obsolete, so how can we as young parents enforce old criteria of success onto out kids, “You must get a university degree etc” – when this may not even be worth the paper it’s written on soon. Just think about it – blogging didn’t exist when we were kids, now there are millions of bloggers out there, many making a living off of a career that didn’t even exist a few years back and you don’t need a university career to be a success at it.
With all this change – how can we NOT revise our parenting style?! I believe ‘Conscious Parenting’ is the way forward – at least for me and my husband. How you choose to parent your children is entirely up to you at the end of the day.
Happy Healthy Fabulous
Photography: Hemisha Bhana