The Conscious Parent
The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children
The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children
Dr. Shefali was awakened one morning by her daughter. The little girl was smiling so wide. She was jumping with excitement. She told Dr. Shefali that the tooth fairy had left a gift under the pillow. When Dr. Shefali checked, she saw a one-dollar bill torn in half. The little girl proudly said that the tooth fairy left one half under Dr. Shefali’s pillow and one half under her husband’s. With her great imagination, the child thought it was the best idea to give her parents equal parts of the one-dollar bill. For a moment, Dr. Shefali was speechless.
If you were Dr. Shefali, what would you do? How would you react? Every day is an opportunity to be a conscious parent. Do you want to know how you can have a better relationship with your children? Do you want to know how you can lead them to success? In this book, you will learn how to be the parent that your child needs. You will learn not only about parenting but also about life in general. You will learn not only to be a better parent but to be a better person as well.
A Real Person Like Me
It was one of the situations when a parent can make or break the child’s spirit. Dr. Shefali thought deeply if she should take the opportunity to teach her daughter that money should not be wasted or if she should smile back and thank her for the gift. Dr. Shefali chose to save the lesson for another time and hugged her daughter tight. She told the little girl that she was grateful for the tooth fairy’s gifts. Dr. Shefali’s daughter smiled brightly and felt very proud of herself.
Children are playful. They don’t act by the rules we know as an adult. They are just being kids. They plunge head-on into life and explore. They go through life not thinking about risks and limits. It is the parent’s job to set the limits for them, to teach them that they can dream to be a superhero, but they cannot jump off the window. That morning, Dr. Shefali’s daughter really wanted to give her parents gifts. It was beyond her to think that money was valuable or that it was too early to wake them up.
As parents, we always feel that we need to teach our children a lesson. We have to realize that they are real people too, like us. They experience joy, sadness, excitement, and disappointment. We need to let them feel the ups and downs of life. We need to let them be their own self. If you are always there to fix things, your child would not learn. You must realize that your child is a separate being from you. He or she has her own unique personality. Like Dr. Shefali, you must let it shine through.
The Spiritual Reason We Birth Our Children
We all begin as unconscious parents. We parent our children in the way that we were parented. We reflect our own ideals and aspirations to them. If you are having problems with your child, you need to look within yourself first. Are you being a conscious parent? Are you acting based on your child’s needs and not based on your own? Those who seek Dr. Shefali’s help find this odd. This really is the first step. Before you try to change the behavior of your child, you should see first what needs to be changed in yours. Fortunately, having your child gives you the opportunity to change every day.
It may be that you are carrying burdens as an adult which stemmed from how you were raised as a child. You can learn from the story of Jessica and Anya. Jessica’s behavior as a teenager gave Anya the opportunity to revisit her own childhood. It helped Anya to change and mend her relationship with Jessica. Anya’s daughter Jessica was well-behaved. She always got good grades at school. She was the ideal daughter. That was until Jessica turned 14. In her teenage years, Jessica became rebellious. Her bad habits include stealing, lying, smoking, and clubbing. She became defiant, rude, and sometimes violent towards Anya.
These bad habits made Anya really frustrated. She was not able to control her emotions. She became really mad at Jessica. She often shouted at her daughter and called her names. Their conversations often ended up in a fight. It became so bad that one day, Jessica confessed to the school counselor that she had been cutting her wrist. The negative feelings were just too much for Jessica to handle.
When Anya learned about this, she consulted with Dr. Shefali. Anya said that it was as if she was six years old again. Anya remembered how her own mother shouted at her and slammed the doors. Her father was cold. He didn’t give her any affection. Her mother was physically there but emotionally absent. When Anya was 8 years old, she already felt very lonely. In her search for attention, Anya changed herself. She decided to imitate her mother. She thought that this was the way she could get her father’s affection. Anya’s mother was always prim and proper. What Anya did was dress properly and behave properly. She performed very well at school.
Her efforts were still not enough. There was one night when her father got really mad because Anya did not sit still while doing her homework. Her father did not talk much. He just dragged her to the corner of the room and made her kneel there facing the wall. He also made her raise her arms in the air. Anya stayed that way for two hours. Her father did not say anything. Her mother did not intervene. Not one of them looked at her or acknowledged her presence. Anya cried and begged for them to forgive her, but they just ignored her. After two hours, her father told her to go back to studying.
Anya remembered never to behave badly again. She locked up all her negative emotions and all the bad memories. She played the role of a perfect child. That was exactly what also happened to Jessica. Jessica’s behavior triggered all the memories and emotions that Anya had locked within. That was why she reacted so negatively toward her daughter. After years, it was only then that Anya was able to treat her own wounds. She recognized the negative feelings that she had been passing on to her daughter. She and Jessica forgave each other. Their relationship improved when Anya started seeing Jessica as a unique individual and not a reflection of her own self. They started to become happy and loving towards one another.
Release Your Children from the Need for Your Approval
Can you imagine how it feels for your child to be constantly wanting your approval? Can you imagine this small person always thinking of ways that he or she can get your affection? The fact is that they shouldn’t be. Every child has the right to be his or her own self. If they are artistic, if they are athletic, if they are silent or outspoken, it is up to them. The conscious parent does not control how the child will turn out. Their choice of career, sexuality, or religion is based on their own individuality. As a parent, you are there to guide them and not to take the wheel.
Just the very fact that your child exists is worth celebrating. It doesn’t matter what her traits are. It doesn’t matter if she has the same hobbies or interests as yours. The conscious parent gives approval to the child at all times. “You are my child. I love you and accept you for who you are. Even if you misbehave, you have my unconditional love.”Your child needs your whole acceptance. You can show it every day. While eating together, you can tell them how happy you are to be with them. While watching TV, you can say how thankful you are to have them. When you pick them up from school, tell them that you’ve missed them.
It doesn’t matter if your child is an infant or a teenager. Assure them that they have your affection. They don’t have to be anything or do anything to get your love. If your children have this sense of security, they will be emotionally healthy. They will not search for external validation. They will know that they are enough. Even if they get older, you and your children will have a strong connection. Let’s compare the stories of two children, Sean who was rejected, and Jake who was accepted by his parents. Sean’s parents, Anthony and Tina, were both achievers. Anthony was a professional tennis player while Tina was a lawyer. They were terribly frustrated with Sean who was weak physically and academically.
Anthony wanted his son to be sociable and athletic. Sean didn’t like the outdoors. He preferred to read alone in his room or play video games. Tina wanted him to be a strong young man. He wanted him to be assertive and dominant. Sean was too lean and too shy. The most troubling time in their family was exam week. Anthony and Tina got really mad at Sean’s weak performance. They shouted at him. They ridiculed him for not being able to solve basic math problems. They denied him food until Sean had learned a concept.
The three of them would fight every day. It came to a point when Anthony and Tina drifted apart. They filed for a divorce. They told Dr. Shefali that the reason why they wanted to separate was Sean. They just couldn’t deal with him anymore. He drove them both crazy. Anthony and Tina also told Sean about this, thinking that it would change his behavior. They told him that if it weren’t for him, they would have had a happy marriage. The result was that Sean acted out. His parents saw him as a miserable kid, and he played the part.
All the hardship and pain came from the fact that they could not accept their own son as he was. When Anthony and Tina realized their mistake, it was then that things got better. Sean was misbehaving more because they were blaming him. What the couple did was fix their marriage. In this way, Sean was relieved of the guilt and burden that they had been throwing at him. Some people might think that acceptance is passive. That is not true. Acceptance requires your whole presence, body, heart, and mind. The conscious parent responds to the child as needed in the situation. Your reaction should be according to what your child did. It is not according to your mood or your own conditioning. This is what acceptance looks like.
John and Alexis had a son named Jake. Even as a small boy, the couple realized that their son might be gay. Jake was not a typical boy. He preferred dancing to playing sports. He was quiet. He excelled more in music and arts. John and Alexis did not try to change Jake. Instead, they nurtured his strengths. They let him engage in the things that he liked. Because of their acceptance, Jake grew up to be a kind and compassionate young man.
His parents did not want to presume his sexuality. They let Jake figure things out for himself. If he turned out to be gay, John and Alexis told themselves that it wouldn’t make a difference. Jake was their son, and they loved him no matter what. When Jake came home crying because he got bullied, John and Alexis just listened to him and gave him emotional support.
The couple also made friends with straight and gay people alike. That was so Jake would be more comfortable in his own skin. The day came when Jake finally confessed his sexuality to his parents. John and Alexis hugged him tight. They did not say a word, but Jake knew that he was fully accepted. He became happy for living life without guilt or judgment. The family continued their loving and nurturing relationship.
You may have fantasies about your child before giving birth. You may want your son to be strong and sporty. You may want your daughter to be sweet and pleasant. You need to accept the child that is given to you. Be the parent that the child in front of you needs. Let go of your fantasies. Once you do, you will appreciate the uniqueness of this small individual who looks up to you.
A Blow to Our Ego
Ego refers to the huge attachment we have with our self-image. We cling to our self-image greatly. We don’t want it to be tarnished. Our ego is at work when we want to look perfect in front of other people. It is at work when we see the mistakes of others and not our own. We are being egoistic when we react negatively in difficult situations. We often see our children as extensions of our egos. We try to control how our children perform at school, who their friends are, how they look, and how they behave. You have to understand that your child has uniqueness separate from yours. Your child is an individual. There will come a time when they make their own decisions.
Stuart is a first-generation immigrant. He moved from job to job just to sustain his family. He was a blue-collar worker. He wanted nothing more than for his son to be a professional and have a stable job. However, Stuart’s son Samuel was very passionate about acting. He wanted to go to drama school. The time came for college applications. Samuel aimed for the best drama school, but Stuart insisted that he should go to business school. The two of them fought every day. Until Stuart threatened his son, that if he was going to pursue acting, he would not be supported with tuition fees. Stuart also said that he would forget Samuel as his son.
Samuel was forced to follow. Because he was a bright student, he got accepted to Columbia Business School. Samuel also got a corporate career right after college. Years had passed, but Samuel still resented his father. He had a stable job that paid him well. He had a car and a nice apartment, but he was unhappy. Samuel longed to perform onstage. The lifestyle that he had could never amount to the happiness he felt when acting. However, it was hard to change course now because he needed to pay for his mortgage and student loans.
Stuart controlled his son’s life. He projected himself onto Samuel. He was a first-generation immigrant who didn’t like uncertainty. It was understandable that he worried for his son’s future. Because of Stuart’s ego, Samuel lost the chance to be his own self. He lost the chance to explore his potential and live a happier life.
We are also egoistic in the sense that we want to be perfect in our children’s eyes. Life is not perfect. Things may go wrong just like what happened in this boy’s bar mitzvah. His mother spent months preparing for the event. She also had spent $30,000.As it turned out, the day of the bar mitzvah became a disaster. The weather was bad. There was a thunderstorm. The party DJ informed the mother that he would be late because of the terrible traffic. The mother was already angry. Then she saw her son acting naughty and misbehaving in front of the guests.
The mother managed to pose herself as the perfect mom and the perfect host until the end of the party. After the guests had gone, she reprimanded her son and shamed him in front of his close friends. She also argued with her husband and shouted at the DJ. Because things didn’t turn out as she wanted, she took it out on everyone else. Trying to be perfect is foolish. Traditional parents poise themselves as all-powerful and all-knowing. They never show weakness. They act as if everything is under their control. The result is that the children feel fearful and distant from them.
The conscious parent has no ego. He or she embraces flaws. It’s okay for your child to see you cry and make mistakes. It’s okay to be imperfect. When you laugh at your own mistakes, your child will learn to have fun and just be themselves. They will see that you’re also human and you can connect with their heart to heart. Who cares if the house is a little messy? Who cares if your hair is not neatly in place? Who cares if the soup is a bit salty? By losing your ego, you let your children learn that good enough is good enough. They don’t need to be perfect. What’s important is that they learn from their mistakes and have fun.
Is Your Child Growing You Up?
Our children give us the opportunity to face our own immaturity. As we look after them, we are put into situations that challenge our emotional strength. We shouldn’t blame them. The reason for our pain is the suppressed feelings we have towards our own childhood. Our parents or our environment could have demanded we lock away these emotions. What we should have done is accept the pain and feel it until finally, we get over it. In that way, we move on from the situation. We don’t carry the grudge as we grow older.
Suppressed childhood feelings are the reason why you always fight with your teenage child. It is the reason why you always argue with your husband or wife. It is the reason why you are hateful towards other people. Instead of facing your own pain, you blame it on others. You go through life as an adult, but once there is a difficult situation, your suppressed feelings are triggered. You cannot control your anger and you take things personally. Life is not against you. There is not someone out there who’s determined to pull you down. The person who triggers your emotions is just a person. The situation is plainly a situation.
You are the one who is carrying your own shadow. If you believe you do, you must reflect within yourself. You must sit with these emotions until eventually, you can move forward. It is important that you also teach this to your children. Teach them to surrender to the pain they are feeling. Not to wallow in it but to accept it. As days pass by, they will realize that pain is just another emotion. It comes and goes. There will come a day when it subsides, and they will feel better. This is how you teach your children to let go.
This is a story of a mother who passed her suppressed feelings to her daughter. Anna was an 8-year-old girl. She was a little overweight and she wore thick glasses. Because of this, she was often bullied by her classmates. Anna desperately wanted to fit in. She asked her mother to buy her beautiful clothes, shoes, and bags. Her mother loved fashion. She got Anna the latest designs from the store. However, Anna would still come home crying. She locked herself in her room for hours. She refused to eat or do her assignments. Anna’s mother could not deal with it. She felt ashamed of her daughter’s appearance.
She bought Anna a treadmill. She also hired a nutritionist. She pushed Anna to exercise and to watch her calories. The mother also took Anna regularly to the salon. She made Anna wear contact lenses along with her beautiful clothes. The mother also went to the principal’s office and asked for a meeting with Anna’s teachers. She told them to punish those who bullied her daughter. The mother also hired a psychiatrist for her and Anna. She started taking pills for her anxiety. Anna’s mother didn’t allow her to feel the pain. She made Anna cover it by changing her physical appearance. She also blamed the pain on other people. If she were a conscious parent, the mother would let Anna feel the pain. She would not attempt to disguise the feeling or to take control of the situation.
Anna needs to feel the pain so she would not carry it as she gets older. She should accept it because eventually, it will go away. She would learn to appreciate herself and love her own body. Of course, Anna’s mother should be the one to teach her how.
Life is Wise.
Do you consider yourself unlucky? Do you often think that life is unfair? This is based on the belief that life is beyond your control. Things happen to you and you don’t have the power to control them. This is the wrong perspective. When good things happen, you say that life is good. When things go bad, you immediately conclude that life is bad. You must understand that it is you who makes the choices. It is you who drives the wheel. You have no one to blame but yourself.
The conscious person sees that life is wise. Every day brings you opportunities to grow, realize your mistakes and improve yourself. This is what you should also teach to your children. They are always observing you. They see the way you react to difficult situations. They perceive your energy. If you say that life is bad, your children will think that too. If you think that you are unlucky, they will also inherit that. Instead, teach them to experience life as it is.
Teach your children that each moment is a lesson. They should learn to take what life gives. If it’s good, then it should be appreciated. If it’s bad, it should be dealt with accordingly. For example, if there’s a long line at the counter or if there’s a traffic jam, take it as it is. Allow yourself to feel upset but don’t take it out on your children or on other people. Accept that there’s a long line or there’s heavy traffic then find a solution. Teach your children to trust life. No one is picking on you.
Life is wise and it’s teaching you to lose your ego. It’s teaching you to grow and to enjoy every moment. Tell your children that each moment is an opportunity to learn. They shouldn’t run or hide. They should accept and make the most out of life.
Elizabeth learned to let go of her ego and enjoy life with the help of her two sons. David and Deacon were very different from each other. David was a smart and athletic boy. He was a basketball player and a bright student. He was always kind and well-behaved. Then there was the younger son Deacon who was weak in academics and sports. He was shy and forgetful. He was sickly and inattentive. Deacon liked to challenge the standards of society. He made his own rules. Deacon didn’t care how he looked and what he wore. He disregarded the popular image of success.
Deacon preferred to be alone. He liked to be with his pets and read books. He felt joy in tutoring poor children. He often failed his classes. He told his parents that he wanted to be a farmer or a teacher in a Third World Country. Deacon was defiant and dreamy. He was his father’s worst nightmare. Matthew was always proud of David, but he was always detached from Deacon. He couldn’t believe how different his sons were from each other. David boosted his ego, but Deacon trampled it.
Elizabeth was unlike her husband. She accepted both of her children wholeheartedly. She loved Deacon for what he was. Elizabeth said that if both David and Deacon were achievers, she would be highly egoistic. She appreciated that they were not. Life taught Elizabeth that both David and Deacon were her sons, and she should love them both equally. She knew that if she showered Deacon with understanding and support, his younger son would bloom into a great individual. He was different from David, but he had a path of his own. Elizabeth saw Deacon as an amazing, thoughtful, and creative child. She knew that they would learn a lot from life together.
You learned how to be a conscious parent. You learned that what you do can make or break your child’s spirit. You learned that to be a good parent, you should face your own childhood first. Do you have frustrating dreams or suppressed feelings? Because it may be that you take out your pain on your child or influence them to become the person you wanted to be.
Your child deserves your love. He or she doesn’t need to do anything to get it. Tell your children how much you love them. Make them feel accepted. It doesn’t matter if your child is thin, chubby, shy, or sickly. That little person has the right to be unique and to be happy. Appreciate life and be imperfectly perfect for each other.