When you think about helping your child succeed in life, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Getting the best education? Being at the top in his class? Being the best in her sport? Participating in as many extracurricular activities as she can? Sending him away to religious, boarding or military school?
The real solution to your child’s problems will shock you. It’s so surprising simple, you probably won’t even believe it.
Before I tell you what it is, I’m going to tell you a short story.
Five years ago, I started an in-depth study of myself, my personal development. The more I learned about why I thought what I thought, did what I did and said what I said, I more clearly I could see how and why my relationships were as they were, kids included.
One day, while yelling at my daughter, I could hear myself. It was the strangest shift in perspective. I could “see” my behavior and it looked ridiculous. As I heard the words come out of my mouth, I realized I could no longer parent this way.
In an odd sudden awakening, I realized that no matter how much I punished, showed my disappointment, yelled, insisted they do things my way or made my opinion known, I would not get the outcome I wanted.
It’s not like we had bad relationships. My girls were, and are, typical kids. They wanted to do what they wanted to do, when they wanted to do it like any normal child.
I didn’t like the feeling I got when I had arguments with my kids because they didn’t do what I said. I honestly didn’t feel right telling them which sports to take, what clothes to wear, what grades to get and how their friends should be.
But as I said, the more I studied myself and my results, the more I realized that any challenges I had with my girls were not their fault, they were mine.
It was not the girls behavior that was causing any problems we had; it was my parenting perspective.
I started paying conscious attention to how I thought, felt, what I did and said. I started to notice the paradigms I had about parenting.
In my inward investigation, I came upon the realization that while I gave birth to them, I didn’t own them.
That’s such a funny thing to say but I honestly thought they had to do what I said, just because I was their mom. I’ve also realized since then that …
They don’t need me to fix them, or make them better, because aren’t broken.
They aren’t globs of clay for me to mold and form with my dreams and wishes.
They didn’t actually want my opinion about what is right or wrong for them.
Don’t believe our kids feel this way?
I thought I was supposed to be the cause of their greatness … by all the things I signed them up for, the great advice I gave them and all the “advantages” we gave them as a family.
If you had asked me to articulate all this five years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to.
I was living too unconsciously. I was governed by the beliefs I had about parenting.
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
When I was parenting unconsciously, I put a lot of effort into giving pep talks, “good, sound advice” when things didn’t go their way and making the best decision I could for them.
I enrolled them in classes I thought were best for them to take.
I said, Wear this, not that. Eat this, not that. Come here, don’t go there.
I did this all out of love for them.
In hindsight, I was just really scared that if I didn’t do all this stuff, I would fail them as a parent.
My parenting was really more about me and my fears, than about my girls and their future.
When I “woke up” so to speak, becoming more aware and conscious of what was really driving my behavior, all that stuff I’d done before seemed controlling, not empowering.
Fearful, not trusting.
Being a more conscious parent does not mean I’ve bailed on all my responsibilities as a mom.
It doesn’t mean the kids get to do whatever, whenever. They don’t.
It doesn’t mean they don’t participate in the family responsibilities. They do.
The best part about being more conscious as I parent is that I’m way more present than I’ve ever been. When I’m with the girls, I’m with them, and they with me. We’re mentally, emotionally and physical present with each other.
I offer social-emotional guidance and ideas for best living practices … if and when they need my help.
But if they don’t ask for help, my job and is actually to close my mouth and trust.
I do way more hugging and active listening now, than scheduling, correcting, advising or stressing.
I’m teaching them to follow their own guidance system, not my guidance system.
They’re learning to listen to and trust their inner voice which has a direct connection to Source energy.
If we truly believe our kids are capable, and honor their innate intelligence, we can relax into the understanding that they will come to us when, and if, they need assistance.
When I gave up the predominant parenting paradigm I had … which sounded like—You need your kids to listen to you. If they don’t, punish them.
I started trusting that they could, in fact, make choices that were right for them … if I let them.
And you know what? They started doing just that.
Today, I don’t get in the middle of their relationships as sisters; I don’t tell them what to do about friend challenges. I don’t tell them when they need to do their homework. I don’t sign them up for activities they don’t want to do. I don’t make them wear their sisters hand-me-downs which would be SO much easier for me. I don’t even discipline them.
I just ask them what outcomes they want.
I ask them …How do you want to spend your time? What grades do you want to earn? What activities do you love? Do you want dirty clothes in a pile on the floor or clean and put away? Do you want to feel tired in the morning or rested?
It’s your life, how to you want to live it?
Do you want to know the craziest part about allowing them more freedom to make their own decisions?
Allowing them the space to learn about themselves, I had no one left to point my attention at but me.
The gift of allowing them to be their authentic selves allowed me to become mine.
In liberating them; I liberated me.
The favorite joke in our house is, “I’m bigger than you. I’m stronger than you. I know more than you; I win.”
It’s a joke because while I am still taller and bigger than my girls, I quite certainly do not know more about what is right for them. Even at ages 9, 11 and 13.
So where does that leave us then, as parents? What are we supposed to do with them, for them, if not tell them what to do and direct their lives?
Allow them a judgement free space in which to listen to their inner voice.
Empower them to know they don’t have to always get it right.
Revel in the astonishing fact that they do, no matter their age, know what’s right for them.
Relax knowing that they chose you as their parent playmate in this playground called reality.
Marvel at their genius as they turn a stick into spear, a frown into a laugh and a challenge into a victory.
Take comfort in knowing they will fail again and again—with or without us.
Love them, UNCONDITIONALLY.
The simple solution to your child’s problems is for you to realize that they are their own beings. They are born with an inner being (as you are) guiding them with intuitive hints, nudges, inspired ideas, gifts, talents and passions to live their most exciting life.
Our job is not to mess all that up by getting in their way with our doubts and fears.
But … don’t take my word for it that this simply solution could alleviate many of our parenting struggles and concerns.
Take Dr. Shefali’s.
Dr. Shefali is Oprah’s favorite parenting expert. All the videos I linked to in this post were of her on Oprah’s show.
Why? Because I really like her style. I think she’s really on to something with her conscious parenting theory.
As luck would have it (which doesn’t exist, by the way. There is no luck, only synchronicity.), I noticed Dr. Shefali will be in Chicago, this Saturday, October 17th, to share her expertise on this parenting style.
The more research I did about her theory, the more it feels like the precise thing that has liberated me from my struggles and stresses as a parent. And … I didn’t even know I was doing it.
It feels awesome when you finally find your tribe. Perhaps this is mine?
I going to try and speak with Dr. Shefali before the event to ask more questions. I’ll keep you posted, if I can connect with her.
I plan on attending the event on Oct. 17, 2015, to expand my self, but I’m certain my kids will benefit, too.
I’m going for me, for my own selfish love of developing personally, and I also want to learn more. Want to meet me there?
If you decide to go, be sure to post it in the FB group. I’d love to meet you!
As one who has been living the effects of being more conscious while I parent, I would highly encourage attendance for those of you who struggle with their role as parent. If you and your child come to blows more than you come to hugs, or if you have stress in your parent-child relationship, perhaps you’ll find solutions you’re looking for?
The effects of my changing my parenting perspective have been …
My girls are learning the art of self-motivation, self-regulation, self-love and self-guidance.
They are learning that I am not the source of their happiness, health, wealth and wisdom.
They are learning to love and honor their gurus within.
Since I’ve become more conscious as a parent, my kids seem to be thriving. They have loving, kind relationships with each other, my husband and I and others. They are motivated, focused, happy and productive. They don’t “talk back” but instead talk openly.
They know what they love to do and they do it. They enjoy exploring new opportunities; they believe in themselves.
Are they perfect children? Goodness, no. And I’m not the perfect mom. But we’re having fun figuring it all out—consciously.
P.S. If you have ever have any questions about this material or you just want to continue this conversation, please join me on my Facebook page for this blog at Facebook: Live. Love. Matter.
P.P.S. Please excuse any grammatical or spelling errors. I read through my posts many times but since I wrote them, it’s challenging to edit them perfectly. If you’d like to report errors, please hop on over to the Live. Love. Matter. FB blog page and let me know!! I’m so glad you noticed and I’ll fix them asap!!