Raising children in a rapidly changing world which is constantly driven by technology and power, and where success is often measured by material and financial achievements, is one of many pressures parents face today. To a great extent, we bring these pressures upon ourselves through unconscious choices that we make, sacrificing the present moment with our children in pursuit of material or monetary gain. Very often as parents, we become so wrapped up in our own daily routines, constantly riding the carousel of “things to do”, that we unconsciously disconnect from our children and thereby miss precious and priceless moments in their lives. Becoming conscious of this reality is in itself a step towards becoming a conscious parent.
Slowing down and engaging in our children’s basic everyday activities – watching their favourite TV program with them, discussing a topic of interest while driving them to school, eating ice cream together, brushing your teeth at the same sink, reading a good book or simply listening to some favourite music with them – are all invaluable opportunities to connect with our children. As a daily practice in our home, my husband and I introduced our two children to a few comedies from our youth, and at the end of the day, regardless of how our day had unfolded, we have made it a habit to sit down as a family and enjoy a good laugh before bedtime. Even last summer, during a long road trip, we took advantage of our time together and introduced them to some musicians from the 80’s, and to our surprise, they thoroughly enjoyed the music; so much so that one of them chose to base a speech on one of the musicians whose music they have come to enjoy. What may appear to be a simple moment to us parents can actually become an impressionable experience in our children’s lives, especially at this time as they begin to build childhood memories. As a busy parent myself, I am often amazed by the experiences my children recall. It is almost embarrassing when I have little or no recollection of these events that they reminisce, but it is assuring to know that it had a positive influence on them.
Becoming conscious of our words, actions, and how we respond to our children’s needs, behaviours, and constant yearning for knowledge and information is significant to the upbringing of a conscious and authentic individual. Recently, during a very hurried visit to a store, my eight-year-old, upon observing the many sale signs with percentages on them, started to question me as to what the percent sign meant and how it affected the marked price of the item. Despite the rush, I chose to take a few minutes and help her to understand the concept, and how to calculate it. A few seconds later I was astonished to find her calculating all the sale items in her vicinity. The pride and sense of accomplishment that she felt within her was so visible as she bragged about her new knowledge and skills to her 11-year-old brother, who himself was quite impressed at his sister’s enthusiasm. Watching her eagerly crunch those numbers with so much confidence, made me realize how much that moment meant to her.
Raising a conscious child in today’s society requires parents to wholeheartedly step down from their pedestals and become fully present in their relationships with their children by simply tuning in to their children’s thoughts and desires. Commanding them to follow a set of rules which we were raised by may not always meet the needs and emotions of today’s child. The world has evolved so dramatically over the last two decades. Some children are forced to grow up beyond their years in order to keep up with the demands of our present-day society. The rising number of incidents of children and youth struggling with various social and emotional issues should come as no surprise.
As parents, it is natural to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and fatigued by our daily activities; it is in these moments that we usually tend to hand over our Smartphone or turn on the TV to engage our children. This disconnect often leads to undesirable behaviour and inattention in school; showering children with material items to compensate for a lack of parental presence is surely a desperate call for “conscious” parenting. The conscious parent is also one who does not live their dreams through the lives of their children. Instead, they accept their children for their authentic selves. They understand that identifying their child’s unique talents and desires and encouraging them to reach their highest potential is more important than the number of A’s in a report card.
The responsibility we have as parents, to care for our children’s social and emotional well-being, is obviously no easy task. We need to relinquish the need to constantly control a child’s every choice and action and allow them to take those risks, make those mistakes, and grow from them. It is imperative that we align ourselves with our children’s thoughts and give them constant feedback about their behaviours or their responses to situations. This approach will empower them to build their self-esteem and continue to develop their authenticity.
Children mirror our behaviours. As conscious parents, it is important that we become deeply present, and aware of our approach or our response in a situation. Empathizing with children’s feelings and encouraging them to be present in the moment and connect with their inner voices will teach them how to cope with emotional or social issues that are bound to arise in their lives. This form of awareness and practice may possibly give rise to a new generation of fully present and conscious, authentic beings. Becoming a conscious parent today is a commitment that we make to raise a conscious child who will be tomorrow’s conscious parent – their future is in our hands. Conscious children make for a conscious world tomorrow!
-by an RMS teacher
This article was inspired by a revolutionary parenting book titled, “Conscious Parenting” written by clinical psychologist, Dr. Shefali Tsabary.