Ever feel like you’re following a script as a parent? Checking off boxes on a checklist that has been prescribed by others around you?
How about the comparison game? Comparing to how your parents raised you, what the latest parenting book says (the one that is utterly contradictory to that last one you read), or what fills your Facebook feed?
All these factors make parenting even more exhausting than it already is! Why do we do these things to ourselves? Because we feel we have to?
Dr. Shefali Tsabary spoke to a group of Chicagoland parents and professionals on the topic of conscious parenting and challenged us all to think differently about the way we parent our children.
She started by asking “Why didn’t anyone tell me this wasn’t about me feeling good?” Culturally, we have largely bought into the linear life happiness expectations of completing college, getting married, and having children. However, whether consciously or not, many people have children because they want to fulfill some need in their life. But children can’t fulfill the areas of our life we haven’t explored. We need to do the self-work.
“The fuller we are, the less projection there will be on our children,” said Dr. Shefali
We have dreams for our children, but they are our dreams. We try to make them into the vision of someone who we could never be. Putting pressure on them to perform in school, participate (and win) in extra-curricular activities, and prepare for college. This makes parenting stressful because our children are not us. More importantly, we don’t own them. Our vision for their life might not be right for them but still we post our proud moments on Facebook to make ourselves feel better about how well we’re parenting.
The reality is, children are here to teach us. Dr. Shefali told the audience that in situations with our children we should pause and ask “What is this child teaching me?” She told us to let go of our ego (and our desire to raise a perfect child) and focus on our transformation of parenting.
Our children teach us because they’re not attached to the goals and image we project on them. They don’t work to find happiness, they are happiness. Their journey is their own – not ours – as it should be.
Dr. Shefali admitted this is a big paradigm shift, and it takes lots of patience and courage, but it is worth it for the happiness of our children and ourselves.
“Happiness cannot be tethered to your child’s journey,” she said. That will leave us empty. The quest to be a conscious parent is not an easy one and won’t be accomplished overnight, or in a week, or even in a few years. It is a practice we must strive to achieve over time to allow ourselves to accept ourselves as we are and allow our children to be themselves – no matter if it doesn’t align with our vision for them.
Dr. Shefali gave much more than a talk about conscious parenting. She opened a whole new way of envisioning family and embracing life.