I have had the blessed opportunity to work with quite a few parents in my capacity as a personal spiritual director and an intuitive counselor. What comes up more often than not in our conversations is an attitude of parenting that we are calling conscious parenting. Everyone that has passed my way has a desire to be aware of how they manage their lives. Parenting is a very opportunistic vehicle to use in cultivating that awareness or consciousness.
I have practiced conscious living for a handful of decades; 30 years of which I have had the opportunity to practice that as a parent. My 30 year old daughter is living a life that is on her own terms. She loves her life, and her parentsJ, is paying her own bills and appears to manage the misfortunes that have come her way with resilience, kindness, and as opportunities for soul growth. I have given myself full permission to accept that it is that way, at least partly, because of the conscious parenting her father and I did, and continue to do.
It is very tempting for me to write about my opinion of what conscious parenting is. I think that what could be more helpful is to discuss the structure of conscious parenting as an attitude. I am going to address some of the consequences that come with living with intention; both the rewards and the challenges that occur when you decide to have a clear intention for living your life.
The first piece of work here is to decide whether you want to parent consciously. If you planned on being a parent and bringing children into your life was done intentionally, you most likely have decided to parent consciously. If you have become a parent by ‘surprise’, it may feel that you have been moved about by the tide, per se, and choosing to parent with intention may require some thought on your part.
The point here is that conscious parenting is a choice. One of the gifts we are given as human beings is that we are given free will to make the choice of what our attitude towards life management will be. I invite that you give yourself full permission to choose whether you want to walk the road of conscious parenting. Know that your child will grow whether you are intentional or not. Parenting is a lot of work just as it is. Being intentional about it requires more of your energy. And, coming from my perspective, I would not choose any other way. My choice to live and parent consciously has been a foundational contributor to my joy of life and of living. And…it truly is up to you.
Once you have made the choice to parent consciously, the next step is to decide what conscious parenting means to you. You can delve into this inquiry in so many ways, but it will most likely take some research on your part. There are many books about how to parent out there. Reading those that are suggested to you, or those that spark your curiosity, is an option to help you decide your definition of parenting intentionally. Another option of inquiry is to ask your partner, family and friends how they parent; Are they parenting consciously or not? What’s important in parenting for them or what is not? Some of you might choose to use this inquiry as a vehicle for personal growth work where you then choose to go to a counselor or spiritual director and use the question of “Who am I as a conscious parent?” as a springboard. Remember to take everything you read or hear from others as information rather than dogma.
Then become self reflective in the inquiry and allow the definition of conscious parenting to come from the deep inner knowing of yourself. If you have a parenting partner, consider doing this inquiry in partnership. Parenting is challenging work. It is always made at least a bit easier when both partners are parenting from ‘the same page’. Use any, some, or all of these options to come to a statement that defines conscious parenting for you. Write it down and know that you can come back into inquiry at any time and refine it as you walk the life road as a parent.
Now you may think that the work of conscious parenting is pretty much done, but I am here to tell you that it has just started. Your clear intention is bound to be challenged for the duration that you are an active parent. Let’s say that your definition of conscious parenting is: “Every act of parenting that I do is in the name of my child becoming a self sufficient grownup who loves herself unconditionally and serves in the world.” In the world of spirit, we know that words have power and that the universe ‘listens’ to what we say; particularly when we say them with intention. The way it appears to work is that when you say ‘loves themselves unconditionally’, every aspect of you that is not loving yourself unconditionally will show itself to you now. It’s an opportunity to practice unconditional self love so you can role model that attitude to your child. It works conversely as well. Whatever part of you is, say, ‘self sufficient’ will also come forward and show itself mirrored in your parenting relationship with your child. Remember the wise adage that tells us that children learn from what we do rather than from what we say.
It is imperative that you cultivate an attitude of trust and faith. Know that when you make an intention with a sweet heart, opportunities will arise that invite you to live your life the way you intend to parent. Trust and have faith that they are absolutely perfect and just right. Through your reactions of frustration, joy or confusion in the relational dynamic between you and your child you will deepen your compassion for yourself and show that possibility to your child.
I have touched just under the surface of applying conscious living to the undeniably sacred work of parenting. There is so much to discuss. Please consider surrounding yourself with a support system when you parent consciously. Reach out to people and institutions that support your intention. Thank you for parenting. The work you do helps make our world a safer place.