This past week in the Calm and Compassionate Parenting group we explored the topic of environment and the many factors that can influence the development of calmness, compassion and other key qualities for success.
In the final section of her book Usha Dermond talks about some of the most prominent influences on children including nutrition, media, peers, school culture and consumer culture. She advises parents to "Do everything you can to ensure your child's environment promotes the values espouse..."
This is especially important in the younger years before they hit puberty and naturally begin to explore the broader world. By observing your children and their environment you may begin to notice areas of influence that are working against the values you are trying to uphold.
Some of these things may not seem significant but if we want to raise more conscious, compassionate children we have to seriously consider what they are consuming physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. Just as a steady diet of junk food will not allow our bodies to grow and develop fully, a mental diet of violence, sarcasm, competition and self-interest will also stunt our mental, emotional and spiritual growth.
Taking time to consider both the quantity and quality of what your child is exposed to can help you to make adjustments that support the awakening of their highest potential - not to mention bringing greater calmness and harmony into your home!
The invitation is to be curious, to experiment and to observe. What happens after my child eats a cupcake or sugary snack? What might change if we take a temporary break from movies or screen time? How do different friends influence their attitude and energy? What kind of language and behavior do I notice after they watch a particular TV program?
One of the benefits and challenges of conscious parenting is that there is no strict list of “do’s and don’ts.” Each child, each person, is unique and their needs change as they grow and develop through their life. Our work is to pay attention, to notice and respond in ways that encourage expansion and joy whenever possible and to do our best to create an environment that supports this as well.
And then of course there are many factors we don’t have much, if any, control over: politics, pandemics, or the weather. These things come and affects our lives in many uncontrollable, unpredictable ways. In these situations, it's your own ability to remain centered and respond with calmness and optimism that can have the biggest impact.
As Usha emphasizes in her book "...keep in mind you are the most important influence of all on your children's capacity for love and serenity."
P.S. If you're interested in learning more about cultivating an environment that supports universal values like compassion and honesty, consider joining the next session of Calm and Compassionate Parenting which starts on March 25th.