Congratulations to Dr. Shefali for taking Conscious Parenting to the Oprah Winfrey Show! See the above, What is a Conscious Parent?
Are You A Conscious Parent?
Every parent believes they are conscious. In almost every workshop I conduct, I have throngs of parents come up to me extolling their consciousness. When I ask how they define consciousness, they say: “Well, I love my child so much.” Consciousness is confused with the feeling of love…and this is where the problem lies.
Love, while a wondrous emotion indeed, does not a conscious parent make. If love and consciousness were synonymous, we would not be seeing the problems we are seeing, with increasing number of children being diagnosed with mental health concerns, and even more numbers on psychiatric medications.
Something is drastically amiss. Use of medications and recreational drugs is on the rise. Prisons are overflowing. Divorce is rampant. Wars are tearing countries apart. The signs need not be clearer.
We are desperately askew. Our ability to connect and love unconditionally is twisted. The path to oneness is hidden amid gnarly branches of resentment, competition and deep-rooted separatism.How did we get this way? Where did it all begin?
You might be surprised to know that the problem lies in the parent-child relationship. Don’t get me wrong, all parents love their children. Still, there is a missing element. It is consciousness.
Parents balk at me when I say this. “We ARE already conscious parents,” they say. Then, to prove the point, they proceed to outline the things they do for their children: ballet classes, gymnastics, foreign trips, birthday parties, presents, and a fat savings account for an Ivy-league education.
If I am still not convinced, they then belabour the point further: how they sacrifice their own lives for their children by working long hours so that they can afford a better life. They tell me about the exposure they give their children [something they themselves never had], how they push their children to excel so that they can succeed& so on and so forth.
These are good parents: lovely, devoted, sincere, responsible. However, none of these adjectives can replace: conscious.
To be conscious means to engage in an active process of conscious evolvement. This, by definition, means resisting an over-attachment to the ‘doing’ aspects of life and shifting your energies to engage in the ‘being’ aspects of life.
Consciousness by its very definition is a work-in-progress concept—a state of evolution from unconscious thinking to conscious relating.
It is consciousness, not love [only] that has the power to teach us oneness. It is this oneness that is lacking in parents.
Oneness is a language we learn in childhood. It is from this foundational place that our children engage with their future with a sense of togetherness and communal solidarity—not just with their ‘own kind’, but with the Universe itself.
Why is there need for a new paradigm in parenting? Because the old paradigm of parenting is the foundation of separatist thought and philosophy. We do not realise it, but that’s how it is. It rests on the ideals of power, control and hierarchy.
This is precisely what creates a sense of separation between us and our children. Our children, in turn, internalise this separation and project it onto the world around them. This is why our world has begun to look the way it does.
Unity needs to replace divisiveness and it begins with our relationship with our children. And how does one achieve this? It is only when we dip beneath the traditional notions of what it means to be a parent that we can get a glimpse of how we can truly create oneness with our children.
To do this, we need to understand the spiritual significance of why we became parents and more importantly, why our children came to us.
The spiritual purpose behind our becoming parents is to grow and transform. Specifically, to learn how to get in touch with those parts of ourselves that we have forgotten, discover where we have been wounded, and commit to new ways of being and living.
Parenting allows one of the most powerful opportunities for us to do this, because our children are able to mirror our soul in a way few others can. They reflect back our light and our shadow in a manner that is incomparable. Because of their symbiosis with us, this mirror is particularly clear. While with others we can always say, “This person is like this or that because of his or her parents,” with our children the spotlight always is on us.
Once we realise that we have become parents to learn a new spiritual language, we begin to understand the reason our children came to us. They too came to their parents—us—to learn how to become whole.
The interaction with each other makes us both aware of all that we yet have to learn together. We begin to tap into this sacred togetherness, and become appreciative of the other’s role in our lives and carry this sense of gratitude and uniting force within. This is what we project to the world outside.
Once this paradigm is adopted, the axis of the relationship shifts. Although we adopt the role of the ‘more powerful’ one in the relationship, and need to maintain this responsibility in terms of our children’s material care and concerns, our relationship now transcends the material.
Parents and children are now truly each others’ spiritual teachers and students, each giving and receiving in a mutually reciprocal manner. There is no greater-than or lesser-than. No more illusions of power or control. Only kinship and a deep connection. Only oneness.