It is our core purpose as parents to imprint happiness into the hearts of our children
The race to nowhere is treacherous, and uphill and constant, but everyone’s on it.
Parenting is a little like trying to stand in the ocean. It’s beautiful, breath-taking and therapeutic, yet in the middle of appreciating the beauty that surrounds you, you detect a wave on the horizon. With your eyes fixated on the fast approaching wave, you know it’s going to devour you, but you are completely incapable of stopping it, in fact there is absolutely nothing you can do but watch and wait. You are already in too deep to turn back, and bizarrely you don’t want to either. Sometimes you can try to jump up over the wave, and end up with only a spray of salt water burning your eyes. Sometimes you can dive under the wave and resurface with only a taste of salt in your mouth. But other times, times when you’re distracted with the race, the wave hits you suddenly and brutally, the water grabs hold of you and drags you under, relentlessly sweeping you across the bottom ocean slamming you against rocks and sand, shaking you around until you don’t even know which way is up anymore; leaving you shaking with fear and anxiety. And now and then, before you can resurface, a second or third wave knocks you down and keeps dragging you along until your skin is broken and raw from the constant scraping of broken seashells and sand. Yet tomorrow when the sun shines again I will be back in the ocean appreciating its wonder. I am daily at the mercy of this overwhelming feeling.
Treading water that’s what parenting is like.
Before we are parents ourselves we usually have a good idea of how we will parent, how others should parent, what works, what doesn’t, and how our children will be like and behave. Some parents continue to have that deluded conception well into their children’s adulthood, but it’s always the receiver, the child that will carry the conscious or subconscious scars of their parents mistaken conceptions.
Unfortunately when you are full of baby, everyone is full of wisdom, yet I have never met a perfect parent. One who had it all figured out, you know a parent who unequivocally know in their heart that their style of parenting will harvest a child free of any emotional or psychological baggage, one who reached the ideal socially, financially and spiritually, basically the perfect adult. One who has the highest level of emotional and intellectual intelligence, which is true to their authentic self in any situation.
So yes our parents simply smacked the bejeevers out of us and we turned out ok”. Sure we turned out ok, your parents also probably smoked around you, and they didn’t make you wear a seat belt or use a baby car seat either, but we know better now. I cannot help but wonder if issues such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, our need to please, defensiveness, comparativeness, and thousands more are maybe issues directly related to mistaken beliefs of what parenting should be. And let’s be honest, we all have a lot of emotional baggage. Yes I know everyone will load their children up with some sort of emotional baggage, it’s the nature of being human, but the goal should be to limit the damage.
Not even society can determine what successful parenting is, so the conclusion would be that no one really knows. We all stagger along trying to do the best we can with what we THINK we know. We are all looking to discover ways in which we can enrich the lives of our children
The last book I read was written by Dr Shefali Tsabary with a PhD doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. Her altered and controversial views on parenting have sparked debates around the world, and I find myself somewhat intrigued by her views. I can honestly say that her book (The conscious parent) spoke to my heart. I definitely don’t agree with everything that she says, but a lot of it makes a whole lot of sense.
Conscious parenting challenges the approach that, by reason of age and experience the parent is at the top of a pyramid, and the child by default at the bottom. It has been said that the children should fit into the parent’s world and not other way around, but maybe, well actually probably that’s not the case. Let’s be honest do you know any parent who has been able to uphold the same lifestyle they had prior to becoming parents?….and rightfully so. Dr Shefali preached the believe that our children are our greatest spiritual leaders, and contrary to what we may believe, they are here to teach and “fix” us, not other way around. In the book the Traditional approach that the child is seen as “lesser-than” or more “mouldable,” ready to be transformed by a “greater,” “more-knowing,” parent is turned on its head. It equalizes the playing field and asks parents to step off their pedestals of dominance and power, underscoring how our children contribute to our growth in ways that are perhaps more profound than we can ever contribute to theirs.
Obviously I’m not suggesting we should abandon all reason or all ways of leading our child, but we are here as the nurturer, the supporter and carer, not the enforcer.
It’s a book that needs to be read with an open mind, and I firmly believe that unless we parents are willing to see our children as the vessels of our spiritual growth, we will stay stuck, unable to grow into the parents our children need us to become.
I have summed up a few points that stood out for me from various different parenting books and styles. I believe that we as parents should not be ignorant in thinking we know all there is to know, and rather constantly search for ways to improve our parenting “style”.
- I’m not entirely against controlled light physical punishment (but it doesn’t sit quite well in my heart). There is allot to be said on this subject, but every parent would have to look at all the facts, and decide themselves. I do not want to delve into this topic to deeply, as I know for a fact it will ignite an explosion of debates. These are however the FACTS:
- It teaches the child that physical violence is an acceptable way of dealing with problems.
- “There is overwhelming evidence that physical punishment is both ineffective and harmful to child development. Reporting on several studies on the topic for CNN, Sarah Kovac wrote, “The sad irony is that the more you physically punish your kids for their lack of self-control, the less they have. They learn how to be controlled by external forces (parents, teachers, bosses), but when the boss isn’t looking, then what?”
- “A 2009 study concluded that children who were frequently spanked (defined as at least once a month for more than three years) “had less gray matter in certain areas of the pre-frontal cortex that have been linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders.”
- The parent and the child both give to each other. The parent is called upon to provide the child with emotional guidance, stability, acceptance and safety. The child enters the parent’s life to teach it something only a child can – “how to engage with Life with in-the-now-presence, authenticity, ego-detachment and joyful spontaneity.
- Children ALWAYS pick up on our energy or subconscious agenda, they can tell if you are really spending quality time with them, or if you are “somewhere else”.
- Rather than being the parent we think we need to be, we should be the parent our child needs.
- Hold the limit, not enforce, just hold, be clear and firm with your own intent.
- Parents cannot be misguided into believing the problem is always with the child
- Statements such as “the child should know who is boss” is completely self-serving, selfish and self-centered. It’s more about our need for superiority and dominance than our desire to teach the child valuable life lessons.
- Children are wrongfully taught that their behavior is more important than what they feel. They should rather be taught what is the acceptable way to deal with anger, sadness, frustration ect. Not that the emotions are unacceptable.
- Children best learn when they feel connected to us, which foster calm, acceptance and open receptivity. If they are hurt, scared, angry or resentful, such feelings “block” their natural inclination to learn.
- Screaming at your child: “Imagine your husband or wife losing their temper and screaming at you. Now imagine them three times as big as you, towering over you. Imagine that you depend on that person completely for your food, shelter, safety, protection. Imagine they are your primary source of love and self-confidence and information about the world, that you have nowhere else to turn. Now take whatever feelings you have summoned up and magnify them by a factor of 1000. That is something like what happens inside your child when you get angry at him.” http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/handling-anger
There are not words adequate enough and eternity long enough for even the greatest author on earth to completely articulate the power and magic of being a parent. When we become a mom or dad, all of life opens up to us and our vision of what is, and what can be, expands and changes intensely.
Parenting and figuring it out is a constant dance, there is no easy step by step manual or way. I believe we should take bits and pieces here and there, use some advice, and simply just throw some away, but its such an important task, so it sure is worth the eternal search for perfection.