There is an increasing buzz building around conscious living- getting in touch with what really matters to you, living in alignment with your most authentic self, connecting to your passions and exploring new things.
I truly believe that living consciously and knowing the decisions we are making in each moment (because everything is a decision whether active or passive) helps us to guide our lives in meaningful ways. When we are aware of our dreams and the lives we have in store for us, it is much easier to see in the moment how our actions and choices can serve to bring us closer or farther away from becoming that person.
But what does it mean to be a conscious parent? That you will magically become all-knowing? That you will know the perfect thing to say in every situation? That you will never yell, feel frustrated or lose your cool when you find your little one climbing up and sliding down the back of the car roof while your other little one is drawing on the car windows with permanent marker? (And that was just yesterday…)
Not gonna happen.
At least, not entirely.
Let me begin with consciousness. Many people believe that consciousness is on a continuum from unconscious to conscious. You will slowly get ‘better and better’ at controlling your reactions and one day you will be fully conscious.
Consciousness is in fact dependent upon unconsciousness. As you become a curious observer to your actions and reactions in moments where you are losing your cool, you are able to stop yourself and with curiosity dig into what it is that is causing you to react in such a strong way. What is it that you believe- about yourself, about the situation, about parenting, etc. that makes this situation such a trigger. In unfolding the belief structure beneath your actions and words you are able to shed light where before there was darkness. That is consciousness.
As a parent, the capacity for developing consciousness is increased exponentially. The ability our kids have to push our buttons and test their limits coupled with the ridiculous amount of love we have for them creates the opportunity for huge personal and spiritual growth for ourselves. Kids are a perfect mirror for everything we ‘didn’t have’, ‘should have been’, ‘made mistakes about’, ‘didn’t like about ourselves’, etc. as we attempt to guide our little ones toward what we perceive to be lives of high opportunity and minimal suffering.
As we become increasingly aware of these underlying beliefs that we are operating from (that may not actually be relevant to our current reality), we are able to release what no longer serves us and free our children from the shackles of our own unmet expectations and pain from past mistakes. We can increase the space between stimulus and response so that we can make empowered decisions in those moments- to reinforce the needs that they are truly seeking to have met and set clear boundaries for appropriate outcomes (instead of shallow, emotional reactions based on fear and frustration).
The true blessing of consciousness as a parent, though, is the ability to untangle ourselves from our children. By approaching our interactions with them as a whole and complete person ourselves and appreciating them as the same, we are better able to love them for exactly who they are at their innermost core in that very moment. And speaking from experience, this not only makes parenting a whole lot easier- it also makes it a whole lot more enjoyable!