When I initially came across this concept I was sceptical – I saw it as another new-aged philosophy. But once I got over the well-marketed phrasing of the name and started to explore the lessons and teachings, I was blown away.
There is no handbook for raising children and yet the process to get a tertiary qualification, a drivers license or married requires time and money spent in preparation to attain these things. Anyone can have children, regardless of their education, wealth or status. So how do we create a world that is conducive for children to be born into and what are the principles to live by?
This is where Conscious Parenting comes in. It is first and foremost a deep look into ourselves, not as parents, but as individuals. With our past, our behaviours, our habitual patterns and our upbringing, can we raise children to be self-aware, independent and generally good people? The answer is yes, but it takes work – inner work.
I’ve outlined 3 important concepts of what it means to be a Conscious Parent. Some of these might be completely contrary to what you think and will challenge you as it did to me. But to see things clearly, we first need to clean and demystify our lens or view of the world.
As parents, we – more often than not – want to give our children a better life than what we have, or had. So we give more of our time, money and energy, and we consider ourselves fortunate to be able to do this; to give the next generation a better footing in life. The intentions are always good and pure, but sometimes we are blinded by the fear, hurt or lack we experienced, so we overcompensate in our actions. Ultimately, the best thing any parent can do for their child(ren) is to give them the space to unfold and discover who they are, what they are passionate about and where they can serve. Of course, the major challenge here is that we, as parents, are not fully actualised. Many of us are still bound by past conditionings and a narrow view of the world. This is one of the main causes of conflict between parents and children. Parenting is not about doing lots of things for our kids. It is about being an example and mentor and allowing them to make mistakes, learn accountability and responsibility because this is what makes pleasant, trustworthy, self-motivated people. The more we do, the less they can.
Children are born mostly unhindered and naturally curious even though science has discovered that there are certain neuro-chemical traits that newborns inherit from their parents, as well as experiences from the mother during pregnancy. But all things going well, babies are generally incredibly tuned in to themselves and the environment. They have not learned fear and self-doubt so they are free to be exactly who they need to be. Unfortunately, many of us have come from families and cultures whereby children are seen, not heard and need to be taught how to change into something that will suit the ideals and lifestyles we want. From past generations to today, the cycle continues…
What if we changed our perspective from command-and-control and tapped into the wisdom that children can offer us? If we give them a chance, they can remind us of some of the most valuable lessons in life. Like how to love unconditionally (nobody does that better than a child), how to be present (children have not learnt how to worry about the past and future) and how to live with a sense of ease and confidence that only comes from embracing our true creative nature.
Who doesn’t love holding a newborn baby? Having something in our arms that is so innocent and fragile connects to a very primal force within us – the need to nurture and/ or to leave a legacy.
Love is something that is often misinterpreted as security, flattery, infatuation or the need to feel needed. Perhaps it was from a need to be loved that we smother, or from a need to be heard that we become overbearing, or from a need for power that we become the dictators in our homes, or perhaps from a traumatic childhood that we lash-out – and all this in the name of love. Then perhaps if we had to love a little less, we can create some space between our inner-demons and our children. After all, our children are not our property. We do not own them and we are not responsible for them. We are only responsible for ourselves.
We have done well as a parent when our children learn to become responsible for themselves.
Conscious parenting is a purposeful journey of recognising and overcoming our fears and failures, and then becoming a more complete and fulfilled person whilst bringing up and supporting our children to then become complete and fulfilled people in turn.
All the best on your journey. If you have any questions or wish to explore this concept further, feel free to contact me.