by Guest Blogger, Meghan Philips
I am deeply passionate about raising children to become in-tune with their authentic selves and live in alignment with their true purpose and desires. In fact, I feel so strongly about it, I am going to write a book about it.
Needless to say, I have been deeply influenced by Dr. Shefali and her seminal work on conscious parenting. After becoming familiar her work, I have come to realize that at teaching our children to fall into line with their true selves starts with us and that this is an inside job. Now, this can be a little scary at first. But when you take time to digest this and wrap your head around it, it makes perfect sense. How can you guide your children on an enlightened path when you are still carrying around all this unresolved baggage?
I have seen Dr. Shefali on Oprah, her TED talks, and other interviews, talk about conscious parenting. And I’ve always intellectually understood it. As parents, we need to take responsibility for ourselves, our actions, our attitudes. Only when we are able to do that, can we begin to live authentically and thus model that for our children. The light bulb went off for me when I saw Dr. Shefali on Oprah. She was talking about parents thinking they are “greater than” and practicing “supreme control”, and how this type of parenting creates feelings in our children of powerlessness, fear, invalidation, and the kicker for me… “no connection to their authentic self.”. In order to strengthen that connection to their inner self, we need to replace control and blame with understanding and view our children as equal and, as Dr. Shefali put it, as our “awakeners” and “teachers”.
So now that I have had this “ah hah” moment I need to start making some shifts. Awareness is the first step, but action is the next vital step to change. I think there are two parts to this. Part 1 is making small shifts in how we approach/react to our kids:
Stay present in the moment. When things are chaotic and you are rushing here and there, it is hard to do this. It takes work. But when you can stay in the present moment, it is easier to see where your reaction, or over-reaction is coming from and then promptly reevaluate.
Try not to say NO all of the time. My son recently pointed out to me that I say No to a lot of things he asks. When reflecting on this, he was right. Dr. Shefali calls no “soul crushing” and after speaking to my son about this, it can be. I work in an elementary school and by the weekend, I am spent. When my kids ask for play dates, I have a tendency to say no because I have just spent all week with other peoples children. I explained this to my kids, and then also told them I was going to be more open to this and that we could compromise. If I wasn’t feeling up to it, maybe we could do a few hours instead of a sleepover.
Reframe your responses so they are not so negative. I have been known to say in response to the why, “Because I said so!” I am trying to practice patience and give my children an explanation. Calmly. They deserve it.
Learn to see the lesson in every situation. There is a lesson. We just have to be open to receive it.
Have family meetings. Family meetings allow everyone to voice his or her feelings and thoughts in a calm manner. This helps my kids to feel empowered and to internalize the fact that their feelings matter and they are important.
Parenting is the hardest job there is. And it is the most important one. It starts with us. And it starts with awareness and some small shifts. Where can you start making some shifts?
Meghan Phillips, L-MSW is a school social worker in an elementary school where she works with kids ages 5 to 11 and their parents. Meghan is currently writing a book about how parents can make small shifts in parenting that will help children to become in-tune with their authentic selves and live in alignment with their true purpose and desires. Meghan lives on Eastern Long Island, NY with her husband, Dan, and two children, Maura 12 and Nolan 9. Visit her website and blog: Meghansphillips.com