Perhaps you’ve heard the term Conscious Parenting but you could not relate to, or understand what this term means. What does it mean to be a “conscious parent?” Is this a “woo-woo” term for parents who check out of social norms or could this be the direction of parenting for the future? I choose to believe the latter is so.
What does it mean to be a Conscious Parent?
The definition of Conscious is to be aware of, or responding to one’s surroundings; being awake.
Conscious Parenting in its simplest terms is being a parent awake to themselves and their kids. It is an in-depth understanding of our authentic selves that translates into how we parent.
Conscious Parenting allows parents to be more open, respectful and empathetic to their kids, because they are more open, respectful and empathetic with themselves.
We have all heard the directive on an airplane, that we need to put on our own oxygen mask before we put on our kids mask. This is true of the conscious parent. A conscious parent understands their joys, struggles and faults and is likely to be tuned into their kids joys, struggles and faults.
When a parents is conscious they mentor self acceptance; there is no ruminating in self judgment.
When we are conscious we are self-aware. Our self-awareness gives us a glimpse of our preferences in life; from the people we choose to associate with to the choices we make in our everyday activities. A conscious parent may be keenly aware that they love a sunrise, enjoy quiet time before starting their day or that they are triggered by the negative energy of others. They may be aware of their need to please people or their preference to not get involved. These are not good nor bad, these are parts of us that allow us to react appropriately on our own behalf. When faced with challenges to these innate ways of being, we are armed with clues of how to best respond without compromising our authenticity.
Kids benefit and so does the parent/child relationship
Conscious Parenting does not use specific methods hoping that something will work. Instead Conscious Parenting gives the parent permission to be wrong and invites the parent to figure out how to make things right. It is not about letting your child run the show, it is about tuning in for the best outcome, looking at who our kids truly are and finding that our kids are guiding us just as much as we are guiding them.
A parent who is self-aware raises a child who is self-aware. If a child is aware that they are moody, shy, dramatic or even a leader, they will move through life accepting this to be an integral part of who they are. There is no judgment, just understanding and respect for their way of being. They make mindful choices to alter these behaviors when and if necessary; but more importantly they are comfortable responding to challenges without letting go of their authenticity.
A Conscious Parent nurtures these natural traits and gives their kids permission to be their authentic selves. Through this they help build their inner strength and self confidence.
Practical Application of Conscious Parenting
When your pre-teen/teen starts to hang with the “wrong” crowd, a parents first instinct may be to forbid these relationships. A conscious parent might open up a conversation with their child and ask what their child likes about these kids. From there the conversation becomes a trusted space. Kids know they can come to you with their own concerns with the situation. They are amazingly perceptive, often reading people quite clearly. When a parent opens up a conversation without judgment of their choices, trust is built for future conversation and stronger connection.
Parenting consciously gives kids permission to decide for themselves if the relationships they are choosing make them feel happy, reflect who they are or perhaps decide for themselves that it’s time to move on. Conscious Parents connect with their kids through mutual understanding and respect built from deep listening. Both parent and child learn to respond to one another with a rich understanding of the other and this is where connection grows.
Granted, there will be times when kids will choose to go along with the crowd to fit in. In reality they know that the fit is not right and it’s up to the parent to remind them of this through inquiry. If necessary, effective discipline practices should be implemented with consequences based on how the child best responds to the lesson you are trying to convey.
Here are a few ideas on how to connect with your kids on a more conscious level:
- Take note of times when your kids are relaxed and open to conversation. Bedtime, before dinner, in the car; pay attention and make yourself available.
- Find time each week for a one-on-one activity with each child, and avoid scheduling other activities during that time. You can keep it as simple or as elaborate as you see fit.
- Tune in to your child’s interests. What is their favorite activities, music or pass times, express sincere interest in all that they hold dear.
- Most often children will follow your lead in how they deal with anger, resolve conflict and work through difficult feelings.
- Talk to your children and do your best not to lecture, criticize, threaten or demean. Children learn by example, offer them positive choices to follow.
- Children learn from their own choices. As long as the consequences are not dangerous, don’t feel you have to step in on every situation.
- Your child may only reveal partial information initially in an effort to test your trust. Listen carefully to what your child is saying. Encourage them to talk and share deeper details to the rest of the story.
Whether you are a single parent or a couple parent, listening well and responding accordingly is key. Slow down and look for opportunities among the distractions of everyday life. This is the way to more joy in your parenting and greater connection with your kids. When done with a mindful approach, including mediating any conflict, parenting consciously leads all family members to making more responsible decisions and connecting more deeply with others. This is the role of the Conscious Parent and the seed to raising kids who will change our world for the better!
Mary Wheatley in the owner of Inspired Parent Coach® and can be found at inspiredparentcoach.com. She now has an interview series available for single parents and I am her special guest. Inspired Parent Summit for Single Parents launches June 29th and runs through July 30th. Click here for further details on how you can sign up for this FREE virtual event.
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DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.