Everyone has their own way of parenting, and I don’t think there’s one right or wrong way. I do however, believe that how we parent affects the growth and development of our children. We have the ability and privilege to be an influential force in their lives.
Authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved are four of the most well-known parenting styles. The truth is, many of these parenting styles may leave you feeling like you’re either too controlling or too lenient with your children.
I believe learning about Conscious Parenting can benefit any parent. I hope you find the following information useful and valuable on your parenting journey.
What Is Conscious Parenting?
Conscious parenting is a parenting style rooted from both Eastern-style philosophy and Western-style psychology that focuses more on the parent than the child. It’s not a surprise that this interested me from the moment I heard about it, as it involves a great deal of self-reflection and meditation. I like to feel peaceful and centered, and wish the same for my family. Such values align perfectly with conscious parenting.
This approach to parenting encourages you to see parenting as a two-way relationship. It’s shifting our mindset from thinking that your family is a hierarchy with parents at the top, in charge of everything. This doesn’t mean that our children will run wild with no limits.
Rather than being either a passive or authoritative figure, you view your child as someone you can teach and someone who can teach you. This requires you to look inward at your own feelings and actions in order to become more self-aware.
The most well-known person to speak on this parenting philosophy is Dr. Shefali Tsabary.
Di Shefali is a clinical psychologist, New York Times bestselling author, and international speaker. Her books, The Conscious Parent and The Awakened Family, are wonderful resources to learn more on this topic. The Dalai Lama even wrote the preface to the book The Conscious Parent. In Oprah Winfrey’s podcast, Super Soul Sunday, Dr. Shefali sums up what a conscious parent is by saying:
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. The conscious parent understands that this journey has been undertaken, this child has been called forth to raise the parent itself, to show the parent where the parent yet has to grow. This is why we call our children into our lives.
Conscious Parenting Tips
If you’re feeling like you are hanging by a thread when it comes to parenting your children, it may be worth giving conscious parenting a try. It’s never too late to try to make changes that will benefit both you and your child. This isn’t a quick-fix that is going to happen overnight. It is a paradigm shift that can have long term positive effects.
Reflect on how you respond to your child’s behaviors
Many of us find ourselves getting frustrated and angry as a result of our child’s undesired behaviors. From the view of a conscious parent, you want to turn inward when this happens. Think about why you are having this reaction, and what words and body language are you using? How is this affecting your child? These kinds of reflections can help to self-regulate and will have a positive effect on your child’s emotions.
Engage whenever possible
We live in a world full of distractions, especially with technology. Technology is part of our world, and it’s not going anywhere. However, the conscious parenting philosophy urges us to treat every possible moment alone with our child as an opportunity. If you are driving in the car, have a conversation with your child about their day, about what they see outside, about anything.
This is the perfect opportunity to engage and build a loving and authentic relationship. Children notice everything. They notice when you have the choice to pick up your phone and scroll social media or choose to talk to them. I know that I, too, can do a better job of this. I try to remind myself that the only thing certain is this present moment, so it’s so important to really BE with them.
Check your ego at the door
This goes back to moving away from the idea that your family is a hierarchy with you and/or your partner reigning the kingdom. Conscious parenting tells us that our children are not things that we can mold into whatever we want. They are their own people, and we have to meet them where they are. Rather than projecting on our children, we have to surrender our ego and honor who they are, and what they are telling us.
Allow the child to choose what kinds of extracurricular activities to do, what books to read, or what classes to take. Once we accept that, we can best support them in whatever their passions are.
Similarly, allow your child to hear their inner voice. As parents, we find ourselves saying things like “why are you crying?”, “don’t be scared”, and “don’t feel embarrassed”. Why do we do this? Just because we don’t think they should feel sad, or scared, or mad, or whatever, doesn’t make that feeling go away for them. Kids have BIG emotions. Conscious parenting reminds us to allow them to experience and honor them.
Set boundaries ahead of time
Conscious parenting is about a mutual and loving relationship. There still needs to be boundaries. The key is setting clear boundaries ahead of time. If your child is having constant temper tantrums, think about why this is happening and what is leading up to it.
Experiences vs. things
We feel the need to buy, buy, buy. Truly, what our children want is our time. The next time you go to buy a gift, try planning an experience instead. It could be going on a weekend getaway together, going to the zoo, or something simple at home like a fun movie night. These are the moments they will remember and truly cherish.
I hope this gave you an overview of what conscious parenting is, and how you can incorporate it into your home. What do you think of this parenting philosophy? Let me know in the comments! For more parenting tips check out my post on the importance of one on one time with kids.