Originally posted 9/28/14
A few months ago, I was introduced to Dr. Shefali Tsabary and her book The Conscious Parent when she was interviewed by Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. Her ideas on Conscious Parenting are so simple and logical, yet so difficult at the same time. After the interview, I immediately bought her book so that I could learn more. That book is now filled with underlines, highlights and sticky notes. I shared some of my favorite quotes in earlier blogs, but I knew I had barely scratched the surface. Now imagine my excitement when I learned that Dr. Shefali would be speaking at a small event less than fifteen minutes from my house! She spoke for about an hour and then spent about thirty minutes taking questions from the audience. She touched on so many relevant topics faced by parents every day that it would be difficult to sum up in one post. Here are a couple of my favorite topics that really got me thinking.
Dr. Shefali began by asking a few members of the audience what they hoped to get out of this talk. After receiving a few responses, she illustrated that even though each individual answer was different, they all started with a belief that led to an agenda that lead to an expectation that would ultimately result in a reaction. Not only do we attend a lecture with these beliefs, agendas, expectations and reactions, but we also project them onto our relationships with our children. When our children act out, we think that means there is something that we have to fix. She shared that there is no checklist you can tick off to change a child’s behavior. At its core, being a Conscious Parent requires us to look deeper at ourselves and fix ourselves. It is only in fixing ourselves that we will fix our children. Dr. Shefali said it best when she said, “You have to be able to navigate your own landscape before you can help your children navigate theirs.” Stop reading and sit with that for a minute.
How well are you navigating your internal landscape? What kind of energy are you putting out there? Dr. Shefali told us a story of a mother who felt she was protecting her children by not talking about one of her fears. The mother was shocked to realize that her daughter had developed the same fear, in spite her best efforts not to talk about it. The bottom line, kids are smarter than we give them credit for. They are observing you at all times trying to learn how to be. They watch your reactions, your body language and instinctively feel the energy (positive and negative) that you bring to every interaction. The next time your child reacts in a way that you don’t like, evaluate how your energy contributed to the situation.
Another topic we discussed was how to address body image with our daughters. Our natural instinct is to try to fix it by discrediting those that said the cruel remarks or talk about the unrealistic expectations of our culture or to change their diet. Dr. Shefali emphasized that we must resist all temptation to engage in this level of the conversation. We do not have to get caught up in trying to fix what other people say. In doing so we imply that what other people say matters. What we must focus on with our daughters is that they feel worthy within themselves. In Dr. Shefali’s words “Don’t give your power away. No one can make you feel unworthy.” Whoa. How many of us struggle with this even as adults? Why should we let what anyone else says or does drag us down? Written out it seems so simple, but this is definitely a situation that is easier said than done. And more so if we model a behavior for our daughters where we don’t feel worthy, they will see right through it. However if we can stay centered, if we can model a behavior where we hold our own power, then we will raise our daughters to be strong and confident women.
You’re probably thinking, this sounds easy but in reality is so hard. Dr. Shefali agrees. She describes it as a muscle that needs to be trained. You build it up over continued practice and repetition. It may be that you are only able to be a Conscious Parent for ten minutes a day and that’s okay. Ten minutes where you have broken free of your fear based beliefs, agendas and expectations. Within those ten minutes you are able to make a true connection with your child. You might ask what were Dr. Shefali’s most powerful words of the day? “It’s never too late to start.”
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.