Parenting Vivian | 28 Jun 2011 12:00 pm

How to Become a Conscious Parent

First, RELAX and go with the flow. Easier, said than done? If you are anything like I was when I started my parenting journey, this is quite a challenge. I was anything but relaxed. I wanted to be the best parent ever and create a perfect little human being who would later grow into a perfect adult. Naturally, I would be able take credit for all this and receive kudos and pats on the back from everyone around.

Boy, was I wrong! Once my child exited babyhood and exerted her free will, expressed her wants and desires and voiced her opinion, I understood that she had her own agenda and was here to walk her own path. I was merely a vehicle through which she would get started! Once I understood that she was not a “mini-me”, I truly was able to relax and do what was right for her growth. And, to my surprise, I grew form the experience as well.

Next, REALIZE you are in a mutually satisfying, symbiotic relationship with your child. Your are in one another’s lives for very good reasons. Together, you may learn, grow, play, laugh, cry, explore and so much more. You may be able to re-live your childhood or create a new one if yours wasn’t so hot. I didn’t know I could learn from a child. I thought it was the other way around. A dose of humility is helpful when doing this since traditionally adults teach children. When I let so of preconceived ideas and trusted in the process, the lessons I learned were amazing.

We all know that kids are some of the best button-pushers around, right? Why is that? I’d say that part of the reason is that they are so honest sometimes that it hurts and they truly have no attachment to the outcome or effect of their words. For example, my daughter and I were looking at some old photos and she admired one of me that was taken about fifteen years ago. She commented, “Wow, Mom you look exactly the same now as you did then!” Beaming and about to thank her for her very keen observation, she intercepted and added, “…except for all those wrinkles!” Yes, brutally honest but certainly keeping the old ego in check.

Then, ENJOY the present moment. How many times do we live in the past or the future? As a parent, I recall thinking how nice it would be when my baby was a bit older: When she slept though the night, I could sleep as well. When she ate solid food I wouldn’t have to nurse her so much. When she walked on her own, I wouldn’t have to carry her as often. You see where this is going. It ends up being the elusive carrot, just like ‘one day I’ll be happy.’

Well one day is now. When we learn to appreciate what is happening right now, even though it may not be that pleasant, we are really living. The baby awakens every two hours? The toddler wets the bed? The preschooler started saying bad words? The pre-teen dyed her hair pink? The teenager hates you? So what? Chances are none of these trivial complaints will matter one day. You may vaguely remember some of them, or forget it all together. Hard to believe when you are the sleep-deprived parent of a potty-mouthed rebel, but it’s true.

Finally, TRUST yourself to know that you are doing the right thing and are on the right track. Ultimately, you know what is best for your family. You know what feels right and what doesn’t, what plans will succeed and which will fail. If you’re not sure, give yourself permission to experiment. There are no real mistakes, only opportunities to learn, grow and change. Be grateful you have the insight and wisdom to know this and remember: This too, shall pass.

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