An Excerpt From Chapter 3 of Mindful Parenting In A Messy World
To be present as my children unfold into their uniqueness is a privilege with no equal. What my children need most of all is my presence. Committing myself to living a life filled with presence feels like a lofty goal, but one I can practice moment by moment. When I notice I’m lost in whatever is going on in or around me I always have an opportunity to start again. This feels like a worthy and doable commitment, and one I have loved to share with other parents over the years.
The family is an environment that’s ideally tailored towards nurturing emotional development—not just in my children (although I will hopefully do that as well), but most especially in myself.
Life invites me to grow myself up alongside my growing children. This involves completing the growing up I didn’t do in my own childhood. I was going to say “failed to do,” but it isn’t a failure. It’s just part and parcel of the complex project of being a human being.
None of us is an island unto ourselves. Rather, we grow up in a family, belong to a certain society, and live at a particular time in history—all of which have a huge impact on the progress we make towards our spiritual unfolding. We aren’t simply individuals, but individuals whose formation is the product of a universe of influences.
Within every interaction I have with my children lie an opportunity to shift myself toward a more rewarding way of living. The bonus is, that as I further my own maturity, it inevitably rubs off on my kiddos. To the degree that I’m able to school myself in a mature and wholesome approach to life, I make it easier for my children to do the same.
I’ve seen how, from my personal experience with my own boys as well as the many coaching clients I’ve worked with over the years, the kind of people our children are growing into depends greatly on the kind of people we ourselves are becoming. As I have learned to be a fully functional, caring, peaceful individual who radiates joy in my relationships, social life, work life, and home life, my children also have learned to be whole individuals who thrive. And on the days that I’m just worn down, grumpy, and unpleasant…well…I give myself a break and I know I can always start again later. Or maybe tomorrow. Some days are just too hard.
In other words, who I am—and who I am becoming—does more to influence my children than all of the teaching or lecturing I could ever do.
Parenting is a journey in which I am learning and growing together with my kiddos. Now don’t get me wrong, I need to set limits, teach manners, hold my kids to expectations, and all that jazz. However, I can only do those things with authenticity if I’m also developing mindful awareness and focusing on my own growth. You know that whole “do as I say, not as I do” thing? It just doesn’t work so well for me in raising conscious children. I first have to raise myself as a conscious adult.
Check out the newly released Best Seller Mindful Parenting in A Messy World here.