Conscious Parenting – Seven Aspects to Consider
By Sylvia Smith
Becoming a parent can be the most wonderful and terrifying experience of your life. Perhaps you’ve been looking forward to this for many years, or perhaps it’s the last thing you expected to happen to you! Whatever your expectation was, you are bound to be in for a few surprises along the way. At some or other point you may just find yourself thinking, “I wasn’t prepared for this” and “I wish there was some kind of handbook!” Well, the good news is that although your baby is not delivered with a personalised handbook, there is indeed a lot of help available.
If we are open and willing to learn, parenthood can be the most exhilarating growth experience ever. There are countless sources from which we can learn: from others who have gone before us; from our own experiences; and most definitely from our children who often prove to be our greatest “teachers” in so many ways. Conscious parenting is all about being deliberate and thoughtful in what we do as parents, being aware of our child’s needs as well as our own needs as changes and progress take place. The following discussion of conscious parenting will outline seven pertinent aspects that we need to be conscious of.
- Being conscious of our own history
Whatever we have experienced in our own childhood will have a definite impact on the kind of parents we become one day. It is important to face your past squarely and if necessary get help to deal with whatever pain or trauma you may have gone through. Every one of us will pick up some or other wounds along the way, no matter how great our parents were, there will always be some struggles. Sometimes we try to stuff down and deny the things that have hurt us in the past, bravely moving on, perhaps even vowing that when we become a parent we will never be like our own parents… Unfortunately, sooner or later these things will pop up again, until we can reach a place of acceptance, forgiveness and peace.
- Being conscious of spiritual meaning in our life
Parenthood is a very sacred experience – when you witness the miracle of bringing forth a whole new life into this world, you realise that there is so much more to life than what meets the eye. Being conscious of spiritual meaning in our life is important at any time, and especially when we become responsible for a child, we need to know what we will teach that child about life and about spiritual matters. Perhaps this is a question you have never really considered seriously, so this will be a great opportunity to find the spiritual meaning in your life which will give you the strength and guidance you will need to face the awesome and awe-inspiring adventure of parenting.
- Being conscious of our reasons and motives for having a child
Conscious parenting includes the momentous decision to have a child in the first place. Naturally there can be many reasons and motives for wanting a family, and ideally these should be about the child rather than the adult. In fact, the only really relevant reason for having a child is the desire to love and cherish, to provide for, teach and prepare another person to reach maturity and be a benefit to society. If these are not your reasons then perhaps you need to wait a while until you can be prepared to have the best interests of your child at heart, knowing that you are willing and able to give your child whatever they will need to reach adulthood in a healthy way.
- Being conscious of the importance of the parent role
When you become “Mom” or “Dad” this is probably the most important title you will ever have. It is not something that “just happens”…. rather if you seek to be a conscious parent you will take cognisance of the significance of your parental role. Conscious parenting means being fully committed to giving all that you have and all that you are to this all-important task of parenthood. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect – no one is. All that our children need is parents who love them, who are there for them, who are fully engaged and present, and who put the child’s needs first.
- Being conscious of every stage of parenthood
Children grow up so quickly! Before you know it that cute little bundle of joy is starting to talk and walk, and then it’s off to school and soon you will have a teenager in your home! Part of conscious parenting is to savour and cherish every stage and phase of your child’s life, whether it’s teething, or getting braces, learning to ride a bicycle, or getting a driver’s license. Every stage can be precious and full of memories which will enrich the years to come for both you and your child. So make the years count and collect the memories to bring out and enjoy on a rainy day.
- Being conscious of our own faults and mistakes
None of us is perfect and if you didn’t know it already, you will find out soon enough when you become a parent. In some cultures and families there is a very harmful belief that the parent should never say sorry to the child – that this will cause the child to lose respect for the adult. On the contrary, a parent who can be open about their own faults, weaknesses and mistakes is teaching their child an extremely valuable life lesson in humbleness and integrity. Asking forgiveness of one another is essential to a healthy and happy home.
- Being conscious of mentoring the next generation
Being a mentor involves modelling good values and behaviour, firstly to our own children and then also to others in the next generation. Sadly, many young people today do not have parents who are involved in their lives, but thankfully there are older men and women who are willing to step up and make a significant difference by actively and consciously parenting and mentoring children who are not their own. Every one of us has a responsibility to help shape and mentor the next generation, whether we are parents or not.