Consciously Parenting: What It Really Takes to Raise an Emotionally Healthy Family by Rebecca Thompson, MS
The following is an excerpt from Consciously Parenting book, Part I, Foundation of Relationships, to be released March 2012. For more information and to continue reading, visit: http://consciouslyparenting.com/book to sign up for more free excerpts and the first 3 chapters of the book at no cost to you.
Navigating by Inner Guidance
Now, as then, so many families are still struggling, and parents don’t know what to do. Many parents have gone from expert to expert only to find themselves back in the same place or in a worse place than they were before they followed the “expert” advice. At a very early age, most of us learned that the answers are outside of ourselves, and so we seek external solutions to our problems. We think that someone else is going to come and save us.
Part of the problem is that we’re afraid to not follow the advice of someone who seems to know what they’re talking about. Even when something about a piece of “expert” advice doesn’t feel right to us, we disregard that still, small voice within us, and things get worse. Or while we may know intuitively that something isn’t right or makes no sense, we don’t know what to do instead. In the past, much of the parenting information out there has been conflicting at best and misleading and damaging to relationships at worst. We’ve all heard so much information about parenting that we don’t know what is really correct anymore.
That’s where I found myself as a parent. I was listening to my heart and doing the best I could with the information I had, but it wasn’t working. I simply didn’t know where else to turn or what else to do to help my family out of the rut we were in on all levels.
Eventually, I realized the solutions to all the things we struggle with personally and as parents can be found inside us. Like the way back to Kansas was for Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, what we’re seeking can be found within. The difficulties our children present to us are opportunities for us to grow beyond where we are in this moment. My child wasn’t trying to manipulate me, but he was providing me with an opportunity to grow and learn. Parenting our own children provides a unique opportunity to learn about our early experiences. It puts a magnifying glass on those things that worked well for our own parents and those that didn’t. It allows us to understand how we feel about our own needs and the needs of our children, but only if we allow ourselves to be aware and see the parent-child relationship with new eyes.
Truly connecting with our children takes waking up, stepping into full consciousness, and reconnecting with ourselves and our own inner wisdom. It will probably be one of the most difficult things we will ever do, but it is also one of the most rewarding. I know firsthand that finding your own voice can feel daunting. Like stepping off the shore into the ocean, we must first go through the crashing surf before we reach the calmer, gently rolling waves on the other side. Everything becomes easier when we have passed through the rough water and found that we can handle what floats our way. However, it isn’t always an easy journey. Storms are bound to come up and test our ability to stay connected to ourselves in this new way. Indeed, parenting in this manner is a journey, not a tropical island destination at which we arrive with our luggage and simply unpack and settle in with a frosty tropical beverage, happy kids in tow.
We’re going to start with you, and you will be modeling what it looks like to stay connected to yourself. By doing so, your children will learn to connect to their own inner guidance rather than looking at external sources to find answers. Your children are going to be on their own at some point, out in the big, wide world without you. Helping them find their own internal compass is one of the best things you can do to help them prepare for the real world. We’ll take a look at what navigating by the internal compass looks like at each developmental stage. (And these developmental stages are based on a child’s emotional or developmental age, rather than chronological age.)
With our parenting decisions, we have the power to create connection instead of disconnection, love instead of fear, peace instead of discord. Then we can return to our natural “perfect” state of harmony, peace, and joy.
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