4 Ways to Enjoy the Journey of Conscious Parenting
Perfectionism and parenting are a tough combination and all too common in this age of information. Social media bombards us with the “highlights reel” of other people’s parenting. Any question that comes to mind we can immediately dive into a digital rabbit hole of articles, blogs, videos and discussion forums. While the intentions may be good - you want the very best for your child - it’s easy to end up more confused and even less confident than when you started.
Even with something as high-minded as “conscious parenting” we can get caught in the trap of perfectionism. In my latest conversation for the Conscious Families’ podcast I spoke with mother of 3 and long time Education for Life educator Rose Neal. When I asked her what’s one of the most common misconceptions people have about conscious parenting she said, “I think we have equated in our culture now ‘conscious’ with something that’s perfect.”
“Conscious” can sometimes feel like an unattainable goal, a distant mountain top that we may someday get to. There is a misconception that to be a truly conscious parent we must have perfect self-control, perfect compassion, perfect awareness. Rose admitted she can initially feel discouraged when she sees something with the word conscious in front of it thinking “I’m not good enough yet for that.”
Through her experience though, as both parent and educator, Rose’s understanding has shifted and deepened. “It’s about the process. It’s a process and the process is in the moment… Happiness isn't a place, happiness is the process of getting to the place and I think that’s what conscious parenting is. It’s about the moment not a destination.”
If this is true, then we always have the opportunity to be conscious. Conscious is about being present, not about being perfect. Everyone, no matter where they are on this journey, has some way they are still growing, learning and expanding. When we embrace this truth we can start to enjoy the ride.
Yes, we are immersed in a destination-oriented culture but that is the beauty of the Conscious Families community and an approach like Education for Life. It gives us an alternative. Another way of defining what matters, another way of defining success. Education for Life gives us the tools and perspective to understand each individual, both adults and children, for who they are and appreciate where they’re at in the moment. The goal isn’t necessarily to achieve any particular outward success (though that may come) but to be, as Rose describes, “successful in being who they really are.”
You can find out more about the Education for Life approach as applied to home life and parenting through the Conscious Families programs but here are 4 simple ways to embrace the moment and enjoy the journey of conscious parenting:
Practice Presence - Children don’t need you to have all the answers. In the end it’s not usually the big decisions but the little moments that matter. Put down your phone, take a few deep breaths and just be with them. Enter their world, watch, listen and … play! Play is one of the simplest ways to bring us into the present moment. Let your child be your guide.
Cultivate Acceptance - Find ways to appreciate “what is'' both in yourself and in your children. Brene Brown says perfection is a shield that we carry thinking it will protect us (from shame, blame and judgement) when it really just weighs us down. Put down the shield and embrace the beauty of who you are and how far you’ve come. Reach out for support in this to help you get perspective. As you practice compassion and acceptance for yourself, you naturally expand your capacity to love and accept others.
Trust Yourself - There are endless streams of information and advice with the click of a button but sometimes the best advice is to listen to your own heart. Don’t forget to value the understanding and experience you have to help guide your decisions. Take time for stillness and silence to strengthen this inner guidance and surround yourself with people who support and encourage you in this.
Focus on Strengths - Our brains naturally have a certain “negativity bias” that gives negative experiences more focus than the positive but we can work on this by taking time to focus on the light. What went well today? What are you grateful for? Despite the challenges, what were the successes, however small? As we practice making this effort it gets easier to see the strengths. When you see the strengths in yourself and your children it deepens your connection and supports further growth and expansion.
How are you enjoying the journey today?