What is Conscious Parenting?
Have you ever wished your child would have come with an instruction manual?… Almost all parents feel this way at some point.
Nothing can really prepare us for parenthood. No class, no advice, and no user manual can give us the tools we require for raising happy and healthy kids. The truth is, to be good parents requires us to be conscious parents.
Mindfulness – It’s Not Just for Meditation
Your 8-year-old runs in from the backyard, excited to tell you about the frog he just found in a puddle. Before you even recognize his joy and desire to share that joy with you, you yell because of the mud he just tracked into the house. What impact does this reaction have on your child’s joyful play? If you had a big, frustrated reaction, was this reaction really warranted? Were you reacting just to the mud on the floor (which can be cleaned), or do you feel a need to control everything in your environment at all times? And does this need stem from your own childhood wounds?
Often, as parents we react to our children subconsciously. We have a knee-jerk reaction to something our child says or does. This reaction may stem from an event that occurred in our own childhood or an expectation of how a child “should” behave. Without realizing it, we are having a profound reaction to our expectations and our own history instead of to the present situation or our child’s current behavior.
Conscious parenting requires mindfulness, and mindfulness requires a parent to be fully present in the moment. Bringing our full awareness into the ‘now’ can help us recognize the meaning and truth in each moment and make better, healthier decisions.
Mindful parents are less likely to have automatic, unexamined reactions to children’s behavior. Staying present also means parents are less likely to “pop back” into their own childhood traumas and wounds.
Getting Started with Conscious Parenting
Conscious parenting is easier than it sounds. To start, we’ve got to slow down so we recognize when we are reacting to a present moment authentically and when we are reacting to our own past moments, expectations, or beliefs of how things “should” be. One simple step to starting to slow down parental reactions is to try and take a three-second pause before reacting to anything our children do. This small space allows us to check ourselves. Ask yourself: Does the reaction I was about to have match the actual situation? If not, how am I feeling? What was I reacting to?
And finally, forgive yourself for any past parenting errors. We all do the best we can do. As Maya Angelou once said, “When you know better, you do better.”
Speaking with a therapist is a helpful way to increase our conscious awareness in parenting. Therapy will help you discover old wounds and programming (thoughts, expectations, messages you heard) about parenting. If you’d like to explore therapy as an option please contact Empowerment Center to set up an appointment to get started.