Parenting On My Own Terms (and how to feel confident that you're not screwing up your kids)
“Once we release our fears as a parent we can walk with our children as their students and fellow-travelers. This is the ultimate purpose of parenting.” ― Shefali Tsabary
Being a parent can be tough. Before having my son, I had a lot of ideas for how I wanted to approach parenting.
I wanted to support his growth and health in the best way possible.
I didn’t want to yell. I didn’t want to let him “cry it out”. I wanted to make him feel safe, loved, and at peace.
I didn’t want to be a hypocrite (you know, “do as I say, not as I do”).
I wanted to be fun, understanding, loving, and unconditionally accepting.
I wanted to be emotionally, physically, and spiritually available and open for my child.
In short, I wanted to be a GREAT parent.
Isn’t that what we all want?
Then I got pregnant, and it got REAL.
“Holy shit, I’m actually going to have a child that relies on me for everything and develops all his beliefs and habits from watching and interacting with me?”
Talk about pressure.
I knew there was no way to fully prepare myself for what it would be like, but I also knew I didn’t need to go in blind. I mean, this was my kid’s Iife we were talking about!
So I read a book called The Awakened Family by Dr. Shefali Tsabary and it opened my eyes to all the possibilities and opportunities that come along with parenting.
To sum up the main point I got from the book: Children are OUR teachers; not only do they teach us joy and unconditional love (if we let them), but they mirror the unhealed traumas, fears, insecurities, and resentments that we hold deep within us. And when we refuse to look in the mirror and heal from the inside out, we instill those same issues in them.
WOAH. Mind. Blown.
So basically, anything that our child is doing, not doing, experiencing, or expressing is *almost* always a reflection of something we are creating on our end.
Suddenly, this wasn’t just about how to get my kid to eat his vegetables.
It was then that I realized that choosing to be a parent meant that I was accepting the most important and profound “job” I could ever have.
It was about learning what I needed to work on or heal (and tackling that shit!), recognizing who I am as a soul, and translating that into my parenting.
It was also about my own re-education; recognizing that much of the parenting philosophy and advice I had seen modeled or given to me was simply the outcome of generations of lack of self-awareness and trauma being passed down.
It was about prioritizing parenting and understanding what it really means to bring another soul into the world.
As someone who has dove into my own self-education and healing journey around parenting, and already seen many of the benefits, I can’t emphasize the importance of educating yourself and “doing the work” enough.
There are so many reasons to start NOW, whether you’re thinking about having children, have 10 kids, or all your children are already adults.
I’ll go over just a few of those reasons:
Parenting our children is the most important thing we will do.
We literally have the power of God in those early years as they absorb EVERYTHING to their subconscious mind as truth. If you don’t think that’s true, then you definitely will want to get started on this whole self-education thing.
Whatever we say, do, feel, etc. is shaping their view of the world and themselves.
I don’t know about you, but I take that pretty seriously and it’s not something I’m willing to just “wing” and hope it all works out (Imagine a brain surgeon going in to tinker with things without ever opening a medical textbook or going to school?)
How can we justify spending thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on our education preparing us for a career, but when it comes to parenting we put very little research or conscious thought into how we might perform the complex task of parenting another human being?
I don’t expect myself to be perfect, and neither should you. I do expect myself to continually practice awareness, educate myself, connect with my intuition, and work through the things that are difficult as a parent (usually my own issues that have nothing to do with my child).
Parenting “how we were raised” isn’t going to cut it.
When I hear the term “that’s how I was raised, and I turned out fine”, I cringe.
Are you really fine? Are you living the life that you want to live? Are you healthy, are you happy, are you free?
And if you are, is that because of how you were raised, or in spite of it?
Do you just want your children to be “fine”, or do you want them to live authentically as the beautiful individuals that they are — free of a skewed self image, disempowering beliefs, fear of being their true selves — instead, vibrantly excited about life?
When we parent how we were parented, we’re closing off to the opportunities for growth and healing that being parents affords us and our children.
Unchecked, we will pass down ancestral trauma from generation to generation. Our grandparents’ insecurities and fears suddenly become our childrens’ insecurities and fears.
This doesn’t mean we shut ourselves off from all the amazing things our parents did and taught us. It just means we step up to the healing journey so that we can parent from a space of unconditional love and peace, not inner fear and trauma (when I say trauma, I am referring to any unprocessed negative experience).
We have access to so much more information and new research in the world of parenting, and I see a new wave of a conscious, gentle approach to parenting arising (has there ever been more of a need for a shift in the paradigm than now?)
If we ignore all of this evidence suggesting a "new way" are we truly serving our children and the future generations to the fullest?
As Bruce Lee said: “Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.”
Don’t settle for “fine” when it comes to parenting. Have the courage to question the norm and parent from the heart and soul.
The children being born are progressively becoming more sensitive and of a higher consciousness.
You might use the term “old souls” or “light beings” to describe many of the children coming to Earth.
They are highly sensitive to the energies around them and are vibing at a higher frequency. This means that they are quite empathic, emotionally complex, have heightened psychic abilities, are extremely intuitive, and often gifted.
A new, more conscious way of parenting is necessary to nurture these children in the way that they need in order for them to fully express themselves.
It makes our life as parents easier.
It might seem like doing all of this is a lot of work, but it’s not nearly as much work (or heartache) as having a child who is acting out, shutting down, or otherwise suffering due to the stuff we as parents are creating.
I’ve already had multiple situations with my 7.5 month old where the issue has been resolved within a day of practicing something I learned from a book, podcast, or inner healing work.
Many parents experience issues for months, if not years, that could be solved with a little bit of education, self-reflection and inner work, and compassionate implementation of new strategies.
It will also make parenting more fun.
If parenting isn’t enjoyable or is driving you nuts, then it’s a great time to open up to learning some new things.
What’s the point of it all if we can’t co-create a joyful, accepting, respectful relationship with our little ones?
So what do I do to parent on my own terms?
When I come across new information or advice, I tune into my intuition — the place in my heart that isn’t swayed by my own fears or traumas (which I am continuously working to heal through anyway) — and feel into whether this is something that is right for me and my child.
Outside of intuitively tuning in to what feels right (this will almost always trump any outside influence), a general rule of thumb that I’ve begun using to weed through all the information is this:
- IF the main/only goal of the advice or information is to make parenting more convenient for me, it requires more research or it is rejected.
- IF the main goal of the advise is the fullest development of my child as an emotional/energetic being, then I’ll give it a try.
Sometimes it might seem like the right thing to do is also the “inconvenient” thing, but if I never wanted to be “inconvenienced” I wouldn’t have had children. And to me, avoiding the healthier option for the convenient option NOW, will only lead to bigger inconveniences LATER.
Of course, there will always be tradeoffs and sometimes making our own lives a bit more convenient allows us to be better parents in many ways (like letting my son play with my phone while I go pee 😂). But overall, I'm willing to put in the extra effort now to create the healthy emotional and physical foundation my son needs.
With all that being said, I’d like to share some of my favorite resources when it comes to educating myself on gentle, conscious, positive, and empowering approaches to parenting:
ParentSpeak - Jennifer Lehr
The Baby Book - Dr. Sears
Eastern Body, Western Mind - Anodea Judith
Search "Conscious Parenting" or "Gentle Parenting" in podcasts
Find a healer that you resonate with to work on Healing/release of triggers, trauma, fears, disempowering beliefs, etc. (I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by healers, my husband included, who have helped me immensely!)
After all the research, continuous learning, healing, and self reflection as a parent, I always laugh a little when I’m told how “lucky I am to have such a good baby”.
I totally think my son Luken is the *best* and I’m blessed to have the privilege of being his mom…but I don’t think it just came down to luck that he’s a chill, happy, healthy, well-adjusted baby.
It’s really that his environment has been cleared and supported to be the healthiest and most conducive to his physical, energetic, and emotional wellbeing.
And we as parents are willing to learn, grow, and nurture ourselves into becoming the parents that he deserves.