By Andrew Newman –
“Conscious Parenting” is a term that has emerged strongly into common language as the sectors of spirituality, psychology and education have moved towards each other.
Spiritual philosophies, once the domain of the East, are now integrated into common language. Their teachings all point towards the same thing, although the language differs. The quest is towards awakening. They set us on the path to claim the light within ourselves—our Higher Self, Source, Oneness, Reality, Divine Self or God.
Psychology points us towards self-responsibility in the moments when we are triggered. Psychological language encourages us to recognize our projections and learn to withhold blame, so that we do no harm while we grow to understand that our triggers are not the source of our pain, but merely an echo from a previous painful experience at a much younger age.
Education is the ‘hold-all’ term for the place and process our children undergo in their early years. More and more, communities of teachers are shaping curriculum towards social-emotional learning and mindfulness, recognizing that a ‘healthy’ human child is one who is balanced in more ways than ‘intellect only’.
When we hold these three disciplines at the same time it is clear that the adult-child relationship is shifting. There is a cultural evolution from the old ways of domination and control, towards a new, kinder approach that recognizes the child as a conduit to the psycho-spiritual awakening of the parent. This is the territory of ‘Conscious Parenting’.
Dr. Shefali author of The Conscious Parent and The Awakened Family writes: “A conscious parent is not one who seeks to fix her child or seeks to produce or create the ‘perfect’ child. This is not about perfection. A conscious parent understands that ajourney has been undertaken, that this child has been called forth to ‘raise the parent’ itself. To show the parent where the parent has yet to grow. This is why we call our children into our lives.”
While Dr. Shefali is focused on work with parents, Dr. Becky Bailey leads the development of healthy teacher-child relationships through her organization Conscious Discipline. Attending her Elevate conference with 1000 teachers was a heart-warming bitter-sweet event as I quietly whispered inside “Where was this compassionate, skillful relating when I needed it as a child?” Her global community of Conscious Discipline practitioners has been established over the past 20-something years.
Dr. Bailey’s training is centered on developing strong relational skills. The atmosphere or attitude can be grasped in these quotes:
“Discipline is not something we do to children, it’s something we grow within them.”
“Kids seek attention because they don’t know the skill of making connection”
In a hypothetical dream world, you and your child would be perfectly matched with personalities who love each other with ease, but this world, which is designed to help you awaken… friction is the force of love at work, polishing your rough edges, till you shine like a gem, or fracture and crumble.
Having an ally on this path of awakening is useful. A good parent coach will return you time and again to your inner self. They will use the daily examples from your family interactions to guide you inwards where you will meet the physical sensations in your body that threaten to hijack your calmness. There, in the fire of physical sensation, lies your path to freedom. There is truly nothing that is too much for you to bear, but it takes work to build the muscle that can hold the breadth of sensation as life passes through your body.
I want to demystify Dr. Shefali’s words for those who are asking: How can my child help me awaken? I believe this is the same way that any human interaction can help you awaken. Personally, when I am stretched, challenged and feel an inner discomfort that drives me to contract into a defensive attitude, then I fall back on my deep inner knowing that I have a choice.
Am I going to assert domineering control, or shrink from expressing myself? Will I act harshly to make someone be different to who they are?
No. I choose not to do that. That is not love. Instead, I recognize the felt sensations of discomfort as true gifts to self-discovery. They are my catalyst to turn inwards, to breathe, and to reflect. If I have lost my center, then I apply my tools to re-center. I lean on my psychological understanding to withhold hurtful blame, even if every cell in my being is burning. I turn to my breath to slow down the sensations of panic, overwhelm and urgency. I lean into God, (or Source or Spirit) offering up gratitude in the face of turmoil.
Perhaps when a trigger rocks your center you will pray “Thank you. I know that this moment is here to help me awaken. I know that I can bear this discomfort. I know that my child has done nothing wrong. The unresolved pains from my childhood are surfacing, and I thank you that I have this chance to heal. Please help me meet reality in the truth of this present moment.”
If I have to do this sixty times in one hour to hold my center then that is my work. My responsibility. My opportunity. I am not here to grow suffering, but to ease it, and these are the steps that I am constantly developing the self-mastery to apply. They are steps that can help you ease suffering in the world. They can help you ensure that the negative historic patters of your family stop with you. They can help you free your children of generations of pain, and gift them with the full permission to shine their true essence.
The number of resources in the field of conscious parenting are rapidly growing. Some of us will lean towards the spiritual. Some towards the psychological. Some towards education. Whatever your inclination, continue! But, know that the component parts are coming together, and the synchronicity is beautiful.
There is no better place to help us change the world, than in our own homes, where we have the chance to awaken, and the ability to influence in order to raise a new generation of children, fully realized to be themselves.
Andrew Newman is a coach, healer and author of The Conscious Bedtime Story Club.Visit www.consciousstories.com for more on Andrew and his work and listen to his interview on the Conscious Community Podcast.