I am always on the search for more information and views on parenting. In part, for my work as a therapist but also, and probably mostly, as a parent. I recently listened to Kate and Oliver Hudson’s interview with Dr. Shefali who is a psychologist and author of many books including The Conscious Parent, The Awakened Family and Out of Control. In the short podcast that I listened to, her ideas seemed very intriguing. One of her main messages is that the more conscious you are as a parent, the better off your children will be. Meaning the more work you do as a person yourself to understand your underlying triggers, beliefs, needs and wants the more authentically you will be able to parent. Through the parent’s journey, they will become aware of their own anxieties and be able to consciously NOT put them on their children. Through this, parents begin to show their children they are loved and accepted just as they are, not needing to change to satisfy their parent’s own anxieties.
Woah. When I was listening to this podcast, it felt like a simultaneous “duh” moment as well as a slap in the face. I could go straight to the realization of several moments in parenting recently where I let my own anxieties decide how I was going to parent. My husband and I have both noticed that our daughter has some social anxiety. It’s easy to see if you are trained in psychology as I am but maybe not so clear to see if you’re not. Big birthday parties are especially difficult for her because there’s a lot of kids and she struggles with joining in and worrying that she won’t be able to join in and play and will be rejected. Even with all the information I have, I still cannot deal when she acts out in these settings. I know it’s because she’s acting out (tantruming, crying and being disrespectful and clingy) that makes it hard for me to deal. I automatically become annoyed and embarrassed. I just want her to play with the other kids. I want to spend time with my friends. I want her to be a social butterfly and run around like all the other kids. Shit. Shit. Shit. How shitty is that? How shitty is it that I tell her I love her and am so proud of her and that it’s awesome that she is so strong minded when it benefits me but when it doesn’t, I get upset and want her to change?
Dr. Shefali helps parents recognize that once the child leaves the mother’s body at birth, they are their own being not to be controlled by their parents and that while nature and nurture are extremely significant in what a child eventually becomes as an adult, we need to recognize it’s not our fault as parents if our child takes the “wrong” path. We need to be giving our children more freedom to make their own choices, develop their own authentic selves and not be trying to change or force them into what we want them to be. What a powerful message and if you are like me, what an easy way to go about parenting. If I can just let go of my fears about my daughter and just love her for who she is today, she will very likely grow up with the self esteem and confidence to become anything she wants to be which is very likely a wonderful person.
So, will you join me in this journey? Will you let go of your anxieties as a parent and let them develop into what they are meant to be even if that means you watch them patiently (and not annoyingly or embarrassingly) throw a 30 minute tantrum at Target because you won’t buy them the 5 ft tall candy bar? Watch me try and wish me luck.