The Key To Conscious Parenting

Happy mother and daughter at summer field

For the past 12 years I have had the pleasure of being the mother to three girls, and in that time, I have learned more about myself than I ever expected. I am writing this post because I want to propose that we occupy the role of parenthood in an entirely different way, with a renewed curiosity, a heightened awareness and a fresh sense of commitment.

Our children are facing challenges today that we couldn’t have dreamed of, and evidence suggests they are buckling under the pressure. One in five children in America show signs or symptoms of a psychological disorder, and that is a hair-raising statistic. The use of ADHD drugs is at an exponentially high 274% global increase. UNICEF did a study a few years ago and found American children are the second unhappiest in the world.

Each one of us holds transformative power, and there is real science behind this to show how the parental relationship can affect us as adults not only psychologically, but also biologically. Dr. Siegel, a neuropsychiatrist and one of my favorite authors, talks about how early interactions affect our brains in his book The Whole Brain-Child. I highly recommend the book, but I want to share with you a few key takeaways, one of those being the idea of conscious parenting.

Conscious parenting doesn’t necessarily mean spending every waking hour with your children, rather it means that when you do spend time with your kids, you make it meaningful and make sure you are present in the moment. You can practice the idea of conscious parenting when you help with your children’s homework or spend 10 minutes with them while they get ready in the morning. Listen with empathy and respond to what is said with full awareness. In their essay, called “Recognizing Our Hidden Wounds”, Psychoanalysts Harville Hendrix and Helen Lakelly Hunt discuss “the importance of recognizing when and how we slip into the past.” When we have a problem-causing “automatic, unexamined reaction” to a child’s behavior, that’s an indication that we are approaching the situation from an unresolved childhood wound.

The idea is obviously fairly complex, but simply making an effort not to bring the past, or your stresses and anxieties, into the time you spend with your child will go a long way. Conscious parenting might sound like work, but it can actually be executed rather easily. I found that remembering the acronym “AFTER” works for me when I’m dealing with a situation with one of my children and my first reaction is to be upset.

A-aware (Be aware that you are reacting to what is going on internally for you and not responding to the situation at hand)

F-focus (Focus on what is happening in the moment)

T-time (Take time to count to at least 5 so you can calm down)

E- Empathy (Forgive yourself for what you had done in the past and have empathy for yourself)

R- Re-enter (Re-enter the interaction with a new insight and respond appropriately with empathy)

Until about 10 years ago, I wasn’t sure what being conscious meant, and all I wanted to do was be a mom and to become a psychologist. As the years went by, I realized that I was often busy thinking about the goals I wanted to reach and thinking about my past. When I became a mom, I wasn’t really aware of how my level of consciousness and awareness would affect my children. Being a mom brought up things in me that had nothing to do with my children, but rather made me realize there are some things I’ve carried with me since I was a child. I had a lot of insecurities and there was a part of me that was still that little child who was crying and screaming out for attention, who was hurt and abused and needed guidance and support, and nobody was there. While my children are clearly not in the same situation, they were victims of my insecurities when I projected them through my parenting. Once I became aware that this was happening, as I progressed with my education of child development and mindfulness, I realized how important it is to be a parent and how much attention/responsibility and self-awareness is required on a daily basis.

As a therapist, it is my job to help people explore their inner worlds. After years of clients sharing their stories, it became clear to me that no matter what I would tell them, they weren’t readily accepting what I was saying because they had internalized the voices of their parents. It became so evident how very hard it is to erase that first blueprint as it comes to the way we define ourselves and the air we breathe. As parents, we hold a greater power and an immense responsibility, and our actions and behavior help provide our kids with the strong foundations they need to become competent adults.

Next time your child is asking you a question or telling you something exciting that happened, ask yourself if you are listening. Really listening?

14 replies
  1. Dorothy Chicas
    Dorothy Chicas says:

    I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this information for my mission.

    Reply
  2. Tobias Armstrong
    Tobias Armstrong says:

    I had no idea that there were so many kids in America today facing psychological disorders. I really like the idea of using a parental relationship to help improve the happiness of our children, and it makes sense that we could have a lot of power over their happiness. I also really liked your approach to the problem in general. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  3. TerryZGerace
    TerryZGerace says:

    I like looking through a post that could make men and women think.
    Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

    Reply
  4. TeresiaCKlug
    TeresiaCKlug says:

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is certainly an incredibly
    well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to
    read through more of your useful info. Thank you
    for the post. I am going to definitely comeback.

    Reply
  5. TodKNowitzke
    TodKNowitzke says:

    This is very fascinating, You are a very professional blogger.

    I’ve joined your rss feed and sit up for in quest of extra
    of your great post. Also, I’ve shared your site
    in my social networks

    Reply
  6. RochelBSivik
    RochelBSivik says:

    Everything is very open having a clear clarification of the issues.
    It absolutely was definitely informative. Your website is extremely helpful.

    Thanks a lot for sharing!

    Reply
  7. KyokoDVyas
    KyokoDVyas says:

    Greetings! Beneficial advice in this particular article! This is the little changes which can make the
    largest changes. Thanks a great deal for sharing!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply to TerryZGerace Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.