Most of us grew up in the traditional parenting paradigm, with tough love, shame, guilt, anger, fear and blame are the common soldiers. But what would you say if I suggested that this “approach” to parenting isn’t really an “approach” at all, but instead, a natural expression of the unprocessed emotions from childhood and young adult years that our parents unconsciously projected onto us? Sounds radical, doesn’t it?
What if the approach used by these common soldiers is nothing more than loud emotions? And what if they were actually injured soldiers for whom, beneath the defensive façade, lives the quieter, often hidden emotions such as unworthiness, not enoughness, shame, insecurity, etc.?
As children, many of us recall times when our parents unconsciously rejected, neglected or abandoned us emotionally. In response, we may have internalised these quieter emotions/voices, learning to fall silent when there was something important we wanted to say. Perhaps we were raised on “if-then” love and control, the fear-blame-shame model. According to Dr. Shefali “This kind of conditional control sets up a sense in our kids that their validity is based on pleasing us and being obedient to us. When they behave well, we give them praise and a sense of worth. When they don’t, we withdraw our praise.” As a result of growing up in the traditional parenting paradigm, during adulthood we may have adopted various dysfunctional behaviours, bad habits and addicted patterns. In psychological terms, this is called trauma. Trauma and addiction expert Dr. Gabor Mate said: “Trauma is not what happens to you; trauma is what happens inside you as a result of what happens to you.” It’s crucial for today’s parents to begin looking within and learn to be aware our own unprocessed emotions and unhealed patterns, which is a huge step towards conscious parenting.
I had a client who suffered from a severe headache for days. Medication and a doctor’s visit did not help her. So she came to me. During our session, she allowed me to explore her childhood. To get to the root cause of the headache. We discovered that when she was nine years old, she had an accident and fell off her bicycle. In doing so, she hit her head on the curb of the road. There was no one around her at the time. When she eventually got up, she called her mum from her neighbour’s phone. She was sent to the hospital for treatment by the neighbour because her mum was still at work. After being treated in the hospital, she returned home. Instead of comforting and soothing her, her mum blamed her for how careless she had been. Clearly her mum did not provide a safe space to help her regulate the emotions that arose from the traumatic event that had had occurred. What she needed most was her mum’s presence, safety and compassion.
After the accident, the unprocessed emotions were stored in her body. And now, here they were, showing up at the present. I helped her reconnect to the younger part of herself with love, compassion and understanding in a safe and trusting environment. Her painful headache immediately dissipated after our session together.
According to clinical psychological and wisdom teacher Dr. Shefali, “The child does not belong to us; they came to the world through us.” The good news is that we can always repair our relationship with our children. There is no need to feel guilty from the past. We have the power to make a conscious choice to move forward from this moment in time. The Conscious Parenting method was developed by my mentor Dr. Shefali, Conscious Parenting is not about seeking to fix and control a child or produce and create the “perfect” child or receive validation and approval from the external world through our children. “When we parents drop our fantasies for our kids and allow them to embrace and embody their own life paths, we give them the inestimable gift of self-worth and self-celebration.”
Conscious Parenting requires parents to take 100% responsibility and be accountable for our own unhealed emotions and dysfunctional patterns. With deep awareness we learn to stop projecting these dysfunctional patterns onto our children, which in turn creates a safe space for our children to process their big emotions. This safety allows them to grow up more resilient and in a state of greater emotional, physical, mental and spiritual well-being. As parents we must commit fully to practice within ourselves, so we can develop dominion over our consciousness and help them regulate their own emotions instead of using blame, shame and anger to get what will make us feel more in control. We must also consistently work on connecting with our children, which is a core principle in conscious parenting.
I am fully trained and certified as a Conscious Parenting coach in Dr. Shefali’s coaching institute. Reach out if you feel called to dive deeper on how to create a conscious relationship with your children. Are you brave enough to reparent yourself and reconnect with your children?