I’m writing this while I watch Lifeclass with Dr. Shefali and I am thinking about my own life. This post is one part my notes on this show and one part my own revelations. I assume that I will continue to have more revelations, hence the part one in the title.
To start, let’s be clear, I have not read the book, Conscious Parenting, yet. But given that there are 9 days left in my school year,(No, no, I’m not counting) I fully plan to bump it up my reading list. But given that we know how Oprah can make a book fly off the shelves, I may have to order it in advance. But I intend for Part 2 to be a review of the book.
It may be an understatement to say I was cautiously optimistic when I saw this advertisement. I liked what I heard on the commercials, but often times the theory of parenting loses something into the translation of actually, you know, parenting. And being in this profession, I come across a lot of books that I would never recommend. I would in no way consider myself to be to new age by any means, I’m that “old school” they talked about during the show. But as I wrote about in an earlier post, Parenting without Punishment, I am discovering that they are ways of tweaking, adapting and adjusting these methods while staying true to the values that they are based upon. So I decided to tune into the event.
As I am watching the school, I am excited because, I don’t know that I’ve had specific language that clearly articulates the way in which I view my “job” as a parent. I have said many times, that my greatest goal as a parent is that my children will be able to live without me. That they will have the skills, abilities and confidence to “be” when I have left my earthly home. This involves a very delicate dance that is hard to explain to people who have a different opinion. Most people will say they want their kids to behave and to be happy or successful. But what I want most is that my children will be content, whole, complete, and courageous at times when they feel the need to change.
This is not necessarily the easiest way to parent. It can be hard to let my children fail, when it would be easy to help them succeed. It means asking the hard questions, and knowing that I might not like the answers. It means there are many times that I am biting my tongue, holding my peace and crying on my husband’s shoulder while we watch a teenager make choices we would have sworn she would never make. But I am committed to letting her make her choices. I am both grateful and tortured by the gift of being here to see them.
Watching this Lifeclass,I am thrilled that Dr. Shifali and I agree on some key points. While I may not use the exact phrases that she does, I am struck by two key points that I really want to share. One, our role as parents is as much about our own childhood as it is the children we are raising. It is as much about our desire to give our children the parenting experience that we had or our commitment to ensuring that we don’t. We sometimes create our vision of who we will be as parents long before we have children. So low and behold when the child arrives, we have a shift that may need to take place. There was a lot of talk about the culture and history of the experiences that we had as children. Our society teaches us to mute personal experiences in exchange for what we should be, how we should be. Adding children, especially spirited ones, makes it that much harder to hear our inner voice, so we expect, subconsciously, our children to do the same. In my opinion, this is what turns us from being conscious to parenting on auto pilot.
Secondly, Dr. Shefali says, “Our children are a reflection of us”. How powerful is that? I think about the times when my children have made me the most angry, they are usually exhibiting some version of emotions I am either presently feeling or have recently felt. How beautiful will the connection be, if we can look beyond the ugliness of their behavior and get to the core of their feelings? I know this is really what helps me in my work with children in my school, but at the end of the night when everyone is tired it’s hard to maintain that focus at home. This is the struggle many parents face.
So my action plan for this week is to be more present each day. I will be more aware of how my history plays into my day and reflect upon how my own feelings are passed on to my daughters. I hope you can do the same.