Parents Are More Important Than Therapists :)

My husband sent me a link to a great TED Talk the other day, saying that he really liked it and asking what I thought. Before I get to it, I thought I’d share a shorter video by the same very interesting speaker/author, Dr Shefali Tsabary. If you don’t have time to watch the 10 minute video further down the page, just watch this one. It goes for only two and a half minutes. I’ve made it super easy for you, by typing out a transcript of this shorter video, so if you’re a speed reader, you can get through this little snippet of wisdom in probably not much more than one minute. In just one or two minutes you could transform your parenting.

So without further delay, here is the short video:

And because I’m such a nice person 😉 here is a transcript of her words:

Conscious parenting implies introducing the awareness that we as parents interact with our children based on our emotional legacies. We are unconscious, to a certain degree, and it is with this unconsciousness that we interact with our children.

The first step of conscious parenting is to become aware of this unconsciousness. When we are aware and mindful that when we react to our children, we are not only attempting to react to how it is they are in the moment, but we are also, albeit unconsciously, deeply entrenched by the conditioning with which we were raised. So we react to our children believing that we are reacting to them; however, we are unmindful of the fact that we are deeply reactive to our unconscious past, and unless we can illuminate ourselves and enlighten ourselves of the entrapments and enslavements of our own unconscious past, we will not engage in mindful parenting. In order to set our children free, we first need to revisit our past, and set ourselves free from the unconsciousness that exists within us.

Then we will be able to engage with our children

with reflection,
with wisdom,
with pause,
with hindsight,
with contemplation,
with a sense of stillness,

because we are not just blindly projecting and reacting to them anymore; we are aware of our issues, of our baggage. Once we are aware, and we understand that there is something going on within us at all times, we will become mindful of our reactions to our children.

So conscious parenting means to go back into our past, to become aware of the legacies we inherited from our childhoods, and then from this place of awareness, reflect and engage with our children.

I think that a lot of people write off the ideas of consciousness and mindfulness as “mumbo jumbo”, just for hippies. Perhaps some translation might be helpful? Try these on for size, and see if it helps to break it down better:

  • “What do you think you’re doing?”
  • “Hey you! Wake up to yourself!”
  • “Why do you always do that?”
  • “Think before you speak!”
  • “Why do I keep making the same mistake over and over again?”

Statements and questions like these are invitations to wake up. To become aware of what is going on underneath the surface, in us. To be more mindful. It is a matter of listening to those thoughts and questions, and stopping still long enough to contemplate what it is that is triggering us, to contemplate how our past is affecting our present and why we do things a certain way, to contemplate our child as a separate entity to ourselves, to realise that their reality and our reactions are two different things.

When we create a space to contemplate the answers to some of these questions,

  • We can be unshackled from the chains that bind us to our knee-jerk reactions, our impulsive responses, our defensiveness or fiery darts of attack.
  • We can get to a place where we use our past as a platform to stand on as we connect with our children, rather than as a weapon to wield as we seek to control them impulsively.
  • We can wake up and start afresh with these precious children, who stand before us looking for affirmation, support, encouragement……

We can either save our pennies for our children’s future therapy, or we can invest in preventative medicine now. It’s a lot “cheaper”, and a LOT more rewarding. Why put a dressing on a wound, hoping that it heals without infection or scarring, when we can just avoid the wound in the first place? It is far, far better for parents to parent in such a way that therapists are never necessary! It is incredibly difficult to try to erase unkind parental words and wounds from a grown child’s memory.

It is not that our parenting or family life need to be perfect (because it can’t!), but rather that we simply need to be wide awake, mindful, and alert to our unconscious thoughts so that we can operate on a more mindful level.

So after all that, here’s the longer video (still only about 10 minutes):

“Raising a child offers us an enormous opportunity to shed our old skin, let go of stale patterns, engage new ways of being, and evolve into a more conscious parent.” (Dr Shefali Tsabary)

If you’d like to pursue this idea a bit further, there is obviously a lot more information in her book: The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children

I am yet to read it fully, so I recommend it with caution, but based on her videos above, and the reviews I have read, it is likely to be a very thought provoking read.

And for unschooling parents, it’s really worthwhile checking out this webpage about Mindfulness in Unschooling and also a transcript and sound file of a great talk by Ren Allen and Sandra Dodd about Mindful Parenting.

I like an awful lot about what Dr Tsabary says in the videos, and I also love the information from Sandra Dodd’s site, linked to above. What do you think?

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