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There is no how-to guide for when your child moves out

Wasn’t it just yesterday?

We brought you home from the hospital in the car seat, wearing a blue and white winter baby jacket. We put you on the kitchen table, looked at you, looked at one another and said, “Ok, now what?” We had no idea what to do with a baby. Do we let you sleep, wait for you to cry, change a diaper or just sit and stare at you? We had more questions than answers. Even the simple questions like,”is it ok to leave you unsupervised to go take a shower or unpack my hospital bag?” became complicated. We seriously did not know. I read all the baby books, took the prenatal classes and thought I was prepared. But no one and nothing was able to prepare me for that moment. That moment, which was a snapshot in time, but a snapshot that is etched forever in my mind. There were other moments that have happened in our lives which I will never forget, but none quite as powerful, until today.

Today you grew up. Today you are truly adulting. Today you moved out. You packed up your bedroom of all of your childhood, teenage and young adult memories and began your life. As you backed out of the driveway, with your car packed full, we were crying. This is how it is supposed to be, right?

As a mom, I know this, and also as a mom I am left under prepared. I thought I would be ready. I thought I would feel differently than I do. I thought I would feel similarly to how I felt when you left for college, it was hard but I was also ok. I thought that I would just have to adjust to your room being empty and you not being home every day. However, this is different. It is a new life milestone for you, for me and our entire family.

I am back looking around at the space you left behind and once again, I am faced with the questions:

“Ok, now what?”

“What do I do first?”

“What feeling do I feel first?”

How do I begin to process the fact that we did our job? And in doing our job it means we have to let you go. It also means you did your job. You grew up. You were responsible. You finished the job of childhood and have been promoted into adulthood. You are stepping through the threshold boldly, bravely, nervously, excitedly and ready.

What is my job now? Who is a mother when the one you were called upon to mother does not require your mothering in quite the same way?

  I am beginning to understand that I am being called to do a new job now and I am not

                                     entirely sure about the job description.

It is not spelled out in black and white. No one has ever written it down for me. I am called upon to look back on my life and draw reference from the other women in my life who have already gone through this stage. Women like my mother, mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my grandmothers, and my great-grandmothers. I find myself wondering, how did they feel, how did they do it? How did they make the transition from hands-on, being in the day-to-day life of your child to being a mother at a distance? They survived it. I moved out, my sisters moved out, my niece and nephew moved out, all of my in-laws moved out, my grandmother left Germany. My grandmother got on a boat to the United States right before the Nazi’s took over Germany. I cannot even imagine what my great-grandmother experienced as she watched her daughter, my grandma Alice, board a ship, knowing what was happening in Germany at the time. So, I know it can be and must be done. Because this is a pattern worth repeating. 

It is a learning curve. Once again, I am called forward into unknown territory. The thing is, I do know what to do when I am called forward into a new stage of my life. I have to draw upon all the healing work I have already done. It is up to me to employ the tools I have learned. The very same tools I teach my clients to get to know and use. Here are some of those tools:

1. Look inside and feel your feelings.

2. What are the patterns that need to be recognized and uncovered?

3. Feel your emotional pain.

4. Allow the pain to pass through you.

5. Have conscious awareness, be present.

6. Do not get attached to a story or an outcome.

When we are aware of the fact that we are in a place of transition in our lives, as I am now, we are called forward to be. To be in the experience of this moment. The truth is, moments like this are hard and, right now, this moment hurts. I am not going to lie. This moment is present, it is here, it is now. There is no way to avoid feeling it. I know I must feel it until I am ready to move onto the next experience of the next feeling.

I also know the feelings will come in waves. I am ready and I am not ready. But, ready or not, I have no choice. When you allow yourself to ride those waves you can move through, not fall down, not get stuck and come out standing on the other side knowing you have all the tools inside of you to cope and survive. No matter what life throws your way, you can move through it successfully.

My daughter and I will move forward together. I will be there. I will be watching from just a few steps behind, just in case she wants to turn around, she will easily find me.

I will not intrude.

I will wait until I am asked.

What I do know is that I trust her.

What I do know is that I taught her as much as I could.

What I do know is that it is her turn to learn the rest on her own.

No one was able to teach me how to be her mother. I am so glad I was given the gift to learn, as my child is my teacher.

How is it that twenty-two years have passed? I find myself asking once again, this time as I look at an empty bedroom, “Ok, now what?”

Are you struggling with parenting or do your old patterns keep interfering in your day to day life? Here is a link for Janet’s book https://amzn.to/3hoIvWp, Show Up For Yourself- A Guide to Inner Awareness and Growth. This book can help you gain the tools you need to manage your emotions more successfully as life challenges show up each day. If you would like to book a complimentary 30 min consultation with Janet click here:https://janetphilbin.com/contact/

Parenting Consciously: A Starting Point For Learning to Yell Less

“What does conscious parenting mean?” 

“Who is a conscious parent?”

“What does it mean to be a conscious parent?” 

These are the questions I was asking myself as I began to delve into the world of conscious parenting.  My own journey into this subject began quite by chance from a book recommendation. The book, The Awakened Family by Dr. Shefali Tsabary, felt like it was speaking directly to me. One of the first sentences that I read was: “We awaken when we become aware of who we truly are.” 

To me, that message was that our essence, our true self is important. And while I was intrigued by the desire to find my true self, I also immediately wanted to know how this related at all to parenting.

As a clinical psychologist who merges the world of Western psychology and Eastern philosophy, Dr. Shefali has a totally different approach to parenting than anything I had ever encountered or experienced. She talks about our job of parenting our children as raising a spirit and honoring their essence—that the children who are delivered to us are done so for a reason. According to Dr. Shefali, conscious parents implicitly trust their child’s intuition to recognize their own destiny.

But here’s the part that might really blow your mind: They are brought to us to mirror back to us the parts of ourselves that we need to pay attention to and to heal. This aspect of Dr. Shefali’s approach to conscious parenting gets me so excited. It is why I have become so passionate about the subject, and why I feel a calling to teach and share this philosophy with as many people as possible.

This premise is also the foundation for understanding the reasons why we yell and provides us with the tools to learn how to stop yelling and start connecting.

Coming back to my original questions about what is a conscious parent and how we can become one: Conscious parenting uses ordinary, moment-by-moment interactions with our children to enable an authentic connection with them.  

By being present, conscious and aware in the moment, overtime, a new family dynamic emerges which can dramatically impact families.  When a parent changes their own reactions, behaviors, responses, and interactions the child’s behavior changes. This leads to a behavioral shift in relationships. How we respond to them, not react, becomes our own inner barometer of how conscious we are.

A conscious parent is something that is learned. It is learned through the actual experience of relating to our children, things we cannot learn by reading all of the many “how to” parenting books that are out there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

  As we learn to become conscious parents some questions arise:    

  •      Can we accept our children in their “as is” state in each moment?  
  • Can we get our entire heart and mind involved and in agreement to the process? 
  •   Can we also accept the kind of parent we need to be for our particular child
  •      Can we be the parent our child needs us to be as opposed to the parent we think they need?
  • Can we allow them to exist without the snares of our own expectations? 

These are some of the challenges that we have to navigate in becoming a conscious parent.  Conscious parenting spoke so deeply to me because of my many years of clinical work as a social worker and as a hypnotherapist. I understand the way our deeper mind works and how unresolved, unhealed childhood conflicts impact us in our adult lives. These unresolved issues will and do directly affect the way we parent and we probably don’t even realize the degree to which this happens. Being unaware of those issues is one of the reasons we wind up yelling.

Dr. Shefali teaches us that when we react to our children’s emotional reactions, tantrums, defiance, etc. we are reacting from our own child inside of us who is now triggered and is fighting back. She asks us to tune in and pay attention to our own inner landscape so we do not react from the place of our wounded inner child but instead can respond to our child from our adult loving self. 

I know we can all heal our inner child; I am living proof. If our child is shining light onto the issues that we—as parents—need to address, acknowledging it is the first step. The next step is actually addressing it so that we can heal. We then can be in a healthier place with ourselves, and with our children. We will finally be able to connect with them and develop stronger bonds. This is your invitation to begin to peel back the layers to a better self-understanding, to yell less and to connect more.

Janet Philbin is the author of the book, Show Up For Yourself- A Guide to Inner Awareness and Growth.  In this book she takes the reader on a journey to heal their own inner child. When we heal our own pain of the past it no longer will have control over us in the present. If this article speaks to your heart, the book will give you a framework to help you heal the pain that your heart has been holding. You can get a copy of the book here: https://amzn.to/3cgxKCp.

Janet works with clients worldwide, helping them to heal the wounds their inner child carry.  You can reach her through her website, https://janetphilbin.com/.  She is also available to come speak at your event, business or school.

Emotions: the unexpected gift of being a conscious parent-part 4

This is the final piece in my series about how emotions are the unexpected gift when you parent from a conscious place.

10. Healing yourself

Step into the awareness knowing of yourself and your truth, this empowers you. 

Others in your family may not “get” you and that is ok.  The only one who really needs to understand you is you. When you stand in alignment with yourself and honor yourself you are affecting the family system.

When you embody conscious parenting, practice it, and apply it you will create energetic changes in your home.  That shift will be felt by others, they may not even have words to express what they are experiencing but they will be experiencing it.  This happens because you now approach them and respond to them in a new way. You will be creating a ripple effect, just like the ripple created when a pebble is thrown into a pond.  The outermost ripple does not know what started the change, it does not know it was only a small pebble, but there was no avoiding the impact of the energy that pebble sent out.

You are the pebble!  You are creating energetic shifts in you and in the home.  Your family members may not like this change and it will take time for them to adjust.  The key is your consistency, holding your boundaries and embodying your beliefs as a conscious parent.

 11. Empowerment

Dr. Shefali Tsabary teaches that we always have 3 choices when faced with any situation.  These choices are; accept it, change it or leave it. As parents we need to learn these three choices and have them in the forefront of our minds when dealing with challenging situations with our children.  In those moments we are not powerless, out of control or reactive instead we tap into the wisdom of this choice which resides within us at all times.

The beautiful thing about knowing that these choices are there for us is that we have the ability to teach them to our children.  We do not own these freedoms of choice. Our kids get into sticky emotional situations too. It is a gift as a conscious parent to share this wisdom with them, at their young ages, so it can become part of who they are and a healthy coping skill for them to turn to when they are in the emotional throws of life. 

We get to have the greatest impact in life, positive or negative, with our children.  Once your child is old enough you can begin to teach them this philosophy. I believe a child as young as 4 can begin to understand there is always a choice when faced with something confusing and/or upsetting.  Explaining these choices to your children is done with language appropriate for that age. You are not going to explain something to a 10-year-old with the same language you would to a 16-year-old. The first step is to keep your child’s age in mind.

Children, especially tweens and teens, go through so much heartache in their friendships.  They experience hurt feelings, anger, grief, jealousy, pain, not worthy or good enough, feeling left out and not important. They often wonder, “What is wrong with me?” 

If your child comes to you with this deep pain, we must first take that breath and pause.  Next we must remember this is not our problem to solve, even though our mama or papa bear instincts want to kick in to rescue them.  It is in these moments we are being called upon to understand that these are their problems. We cannot minimize what they are sharing because in that moment what they are sharing is of the utmost importance to them. 

Do not:

– Minimize their feelings by saying things like, “all kids go through something like this at your age.”  

-Attempt to get them to move on from their emotions because you may be feeling quite uncomfortable hearing their pain. 

-Make a joke, change the subject, offer food or ice cream so that they feel better.  If we do that, we are telling them two things; your feelings don’t matter and it is better to bury or avoid your feelings rather than to experience them. 

We are being called upon, as conscious parents, to listen with an open heart and bear witness to their pain.  

We must create a safe space for them to have and share their feelings.  It is at this point that we can offer them support and teach them about the three choices.

Start by explaining that in every life situation we always have a choice as to how we are going to respond.  Go through the three choices of accept it, change it or leave it. Speak to them about it with age appropriate language.  Speak with your child with empathy and understanding and let them know they get to choose. Let them know that no one can take their sense of self away or their ability to make their own choices in life. 

The first choice is to accept.  Accepting means that we fully accept the reality of the situation, the as-is, that is in front of us.  Not only to accept it externally but we must accept it internally as well. This means we must look at it as something that is not happening to us, because then we are a victim of circumstance.  Instead see it as something that is happening for us in our life. That does not mean they have to like it or even agree with it but they must accept it.

When we do not accept the reality of the present moment, we cause our own pain. That pain is, “I wish it were another way.”  But it is not, it is this way. Help them be in reality, in the as-is, of it.

Empower them to understand no one is doing anything to them, it is just something that has happened and this has happened for them.   By helping them accept the as-is we can help them not make up a story in their head about why this happened. When we get stuck in the merry-go-round of that story we spin around and around and this only causes more anxiety and upset. 

The second choice is to change.  Now it is not possible to change the other (see part 3). Only the other person can make this choice for themselves.  The change that they need to make is within them. They get to choose to change how they interact with this person, how they talk with them, whether or not they will talk with them.  You see, like us, our kids have been reacting in one way with the others in their lives. If your child keeps getting hurt, it is up to us, as conscious parents, to shine light on the situation with them and help them see what aspects of their life they would like to change to help them with this situation.  Maybe they decide to change friend groups or join more activities to make new friends so they are not as dependent on the old ones. Maybe they stop reaching out as much. There is always a choice to change.  This choice is theirs and that is empowering for them to know and feel.

The third choice is to stay.  That means nothing changes. They continue to go along in the relationship as is without looking at their own stuff, still in the same dynamics and continue on the ride.  And this is ok too. Eventually they will want to change but until then you can still support them and provide the safe ear of listening and the hug to reassure them that no matter what they are loved for who they are.  That they are seen, worthy, important and that they matter.

This brings us back to where we started, emotions: the unexpected gift of being a conscious parent.  Parenting brings up emotions and brings up the most painful and uncomfortable ones. In my opinion, being in and experiencing these emotions within ourselves is one of the hardest parts of parenting.  You must tolerate your own discomfort and resist the urge to fix your child so you can feel better.  

In doing our own self-care we are able to:

– Bear witness to their emotional storm

– Honor their unfolding spirit

– Allow your child to teach you

– Grow into your own self awareness

– Understand mistakes are learning opportunities

– Relinquish control

– Be present and connect

– Change yourself

– Detach from the past

– Heal yourself

– Become empowered.

Our children will keep showing us our patterns, pain, fear and emotions.  What is your choice? How will you best take care of you? Do you choose to grow and change?  

The choice is yours.  The gifts are here, wrapped up and ready to be opened.  Let’s start opening them embracing each one and embracing each child who was generous enough and gifted enough to bring them to you.

Janet is available for in person and remote sessions. Janet is also available to come speak at your events. If you want to talk to her send an email to Janet@JanetPhilbin.com for a free 30 minute consultation. The ability to heal and grow is in each one of us.

Emotions: The unexpected gift of being a conscious parent -Part 3

This is part 3 in a series about the gifts of emotions when parenting consciously.

I am walking this path of conscious parenting with all of you.  As I have traveled this journey of conscious parenting, I have come to learn many things and have gained insight about myself.  In learning these aspects and gaining this insight I realized that I was the one impacting my children. I also learned that it is up to me to take ownership of my emotional baggage and not expect others to change for me.  I must heal myself and allow my children the room to become who they came here to be. It is up to all of us, as parents, to give our children the space to be who they truly are. Here are two more gifts you get to receive when parenting from a conscious place.

8. The only one you can change is yourself

 This is the gift you give yourself.

We may not like this, but it is true.  You actually have no power over another person.  We cannot make another heal, grow, change, see it our way, do it our way unless they want to.   This is also true for your child.

There is a belief that as parents we can “make” our kids change because we want them to.  We are the parent and therefore in a more powerful position. We hold the false belief that we can force them to be, do, become someone or something they are not.  As a parent you may wind up fighting with your child to do it your way, which may be against who they intrinsically are. This just sets you up for a power struggle of wills which will end in resentment on both of your parts. 

This struggle may also lead to your child lying to you.  They lie because they know they cannot tell the truth; they know it is against your way.  So instead of getting in trouble, they lie, tell you what you want to hear, and you wind up with a very inauthentic relationship.  If you are resistant to who your children are, they may show up with defiant behaviors. If you are unable to see things from their perspective and are rigid in your thinking or what you allow then you may see lying.  All of this leads to disconnection, and the goal is to have opportunities for connection. You may not like the truth and you may not like the choices another is making but that is your issue and not theirs.

It is up to you to look inside and find out why their truth and decisions are bothersome or upsetting to you. 

What can you do?   You can provide support, education, acceptance and unconditional love.  Let your child see that you do support them but you are also inviting them to try things out another way.  Again, this does not apply to red flag issues where there is a danger to health or safety. At those times immediate and decisive action is needed.

We must release the other of the expectations you have for them to change and accept the is-ness of the now, the situation, the relationship.  Only we can change, we must release the other.  In releasing of the other we begin to raise our self and allow our child the space to be who they need and want to be.

If we cannot release them from our conditions, and health or safety is not the issue, then the truth is the issue is you.  It is up to you to take an objective and a close look at you and see where your attachments to wanting to control your child are coming from.  Begin to ask yourself some questions: 

What is my unmet need?

Is this coming from a place of lack in me?  

Do I want my child to achieve something so I can feel better about me?  

Am I gaining my sense of worth through my child’s accomplishments?  

If I am, when and where did I give up on myself? 

The answer to these questions, and others, lie within you.  Your very own inner child is in pain and is the one acting out.  The real question to ask is, “Do I want to parent from a place of my wounded inner child or do I want to parent from a place of my whole adult self?”  I know, for me, I want to parent from a place of my whole adult self. In order to do this, we must tend to our own emotions. The change starts with you!

9. Detach from the past

 It is our longing to hold onto the stories of the past that keeps us stuck there. 

The past is not in the present, those events are long gone. Problems show up when we hold onto the past.   We believe that we have a right to those old feelings and we apply them in the present moment.  We believe that somehow those old patterns, emotions, reactions are relevant in the now. The truth is they are not.  All that is relevant in the now is the present moment. Do not let the stories of the past tarnish the now.  This is where inner work and reflection come in.

It is a time to ask yourself, what is my need in this moment?  Where is this need coming from? Is it happening in the now, or is it some old story I am holding onto and applying to my now?

Do you know your child in the present?  Are all of the decisions you make, reactions and feelings you have about them connected to yesterday, one year ago or five years ago? It is up to you as a conscious parent to see your child with present moment awareness. 

When you have a reaction, is it based on who you believe your child to be or who they are now?  Maybe your child always had a tantrum when you had to transition from one activity to another, but now two years later they no longer do that but you still hold the fear that they will.  Have you changed the way you approach transition or do you project fear onto your child and approach them with the expectation of the old behavior? 

Acting from a place of expectation based on the past is not being present. 

You are bringing old patterns and energy with you to the now. All that will do is give you what you are expecting and you may get behaviors from your child and will continue to view them from an old lens.  

If you instead approach them with a clean slate, no expectations of a poor outcome, then you will have a different interaction and find connections.  When you do not stay present you are doing a disservice to yourself and your child. You are robbing both of you of the now.

It is up to you, as a conscious parent, to be in the present moment with your child.  Being mindful, connected, aware, and in tune with what is coming up for you and within you.  When you are with your child in the now you are training the muscle, you are using. When you go to the gym and do bicep curls you are training your biceps.  When you stay in the present moment you are building your muscles of consciousness and mindfulness and can then parent from a place of inner awareness. 

To stay present you pause, take a breath, check in with yourself, ask yourself the questions from above, and allow a few minutes for the feelings to pass.  When you stay present you are giving yourself a gift. The gift of now. 

Emotions: The unexpected gift of being a conscious parent – Part 2

This is part two in a series about the gift of emotions when parenting consciously. 

5. “Mistakes” are really learning opportunities 

Instead of the word mistake lets rename it a learning opportunity.  There really are no mistakes.  Everything that we experience in life happens for us.  And not just the good stuff, but the not so good stuff too.  Can you begin to look at these learning opportunities as avenues for growth?

There are many ages and stages of learning while raising our kids.  As parents we have many learning opportunities.

How can we learn to do it if we had not done it wrong first?  We learn what works from what did not work.  As adults we remember moments we would rather forget, did we learn from those experiences, you bet we did.  And we learned from them because no one saved us from the consequences.

Our children also need to learn the natural consequences from their learning opportunities.  If we rush in to save them every time, or prevent a “mistake” from happening what do they learn? They learn, “I don’t have to feel my uncomfortable feelings because mom or dad will do, remember, or fix this for me.”  How is your child going to learn to remember to bring his homework home if you drive him back to get it?  All he learns when you drive him back is mom will take care of it for me, I don’t have to be responsible, or they may begin to feel they are not trustworthy.

What if you don’t drive back to school?  Then he will learn from the discomfort when he has to go back to school without it the next day.  Feeling this discomfort will allow him time to process what he needs to learn.  He may express anger at you for not rescuing him, and that is ok.  He is allowed to be angry for not being rescued.  He is then given a chance to become self-reliant.

Becoming self-reliant will enable him to feel proud of himself for what he is doing for himself. This will help him develop a sense of worth and self-efficacy. 

As a conscious parent it is up to you to look at what feeling comes up for you when you want to rescue your child from a potential problem. It is those feelings, usually anxiety and fear, which drive parents to: bring them back to school, give too many reminders or do it for them. 

It is time for you, the parent, to recognize it is your own feelings you want to make feel better when you do not allow your child the room to learn from their own opportunities.  Our children came here to teach us.  It is time to wake up and recognize our own emotions which call out to us for attention.

Our children need compassion and understanding for their plight not to be handicapped by never letting them learn to deal with the consequences. I am not speaking of a life-threatening situation or one where there can be serious harm but one where the consequence is fitting to the learning opportunity. 

There are learning opportunities that happen all the time from the toy breaking because they played with it roughly to the teenager forgetting a doctor appointment because they refuse to look at their calendar.  It is up to you to take care of your own difficult emotions and allow your child, and you, room to grow.

Striving to be perfect is just another way to create anxiety.

Let them mess up, let yourself mess up.  Learning opportunities give all of us emotional freedom.

6. Patience is an exercise of relinquishing control 

These words apply to all areas of your life not just parenting.  However, since parenting is the focus right now that’s what I will address.  Four years ago, my oldest was applying to college. This became a huge lesson in patience for me.  I am the type of person, when given a task, will get it done as soon as possible.  Especially a task which is time sensitive, I need to check it off my list and know it is done. 

The thing about applying to college is that YOUR KID is the one applying, not you.  As a parent, you must sit back and let them do it.  If they want your help, support or guidance then be there, sit with them while they fill out the applications, help them gather the necessary documents, but only if they ask. 

I had a conversation with a mom recently.  She has twin boys who are about to begin their senior year in high school.  We began talking about college and she shared that she was already worried but at least “WE got the essays done.”  And I thought, this is not a “we thing,” it is something HE must get done.  This is a great example of a parent who is too personally invested in their child’s process and is owning it as hers since it seems it was “their” essay. 

This speaks to allowing the child to learn from doing it. When the parent does it for or with them this eases their own emotions. Remember, your child’s timeline for getting things done is theirs, not yours.  You will have more patience and less stress when you can separate yourself out of their responsibility.  This applies to all areas of life; from applying to college to learning to tie their shoes.  When you step back and let your child do it, it also lets him know you trust him.

If I thought learning patience was hard in the application phase I was wrong, my greatest lesson in patience was waiting for the acceptance letters to arrive. My daughter applied to her perspective colleges by December 1st.  The colleges do not send back anything until March, unless you apply early decision which she did not.  Your child hits send and then you wait.  And you wait.  And you wait.  As a parent you have no control, there is no one to ask about the status of the application and your child is emailed their acceptance letters, so checking the mailbox does not help either.

For me, learning to be patient, was an exercise in relinquishing control.  And, man, I love being in control.  Luckily, I was able to have enough self-awareness to know that this was an exercise in patience for me.  A life lesson which needed to be learned and then applied.  And I had the opportunity to practice it again, the following year, with my son.  I think I did better the second time around, but you would have to ask my kids to find out.

Here is what I learned.  Slow down and be in the moment with your child.  Nothing is that urgent.  Ease into the seat of the patient observer and allow space for the unfolding of what needs attention in each present moment. 

And most important of all, detach from the belief that their responsibilities and the outcomes of those tasks are also yours.

7. Presence and Connection

Be in the here and now.  We cannot be anywhere else.  Fighting reality is what causes us pain.  The moment we are in, is the moment we are in.  We must be in it until we move to the next moment. 

When we are present there is no better place to be.  In the awareness of being present we can feel connected to another.  This connection can come from a hug, eye contact, sitting with another, playing a board game, coloring together, laughing, rough housing, a shared meal.  Connection happens when we are with another, without distraction, and we are fully present in that moment. 

Being connected builds trust and safety within the relationship of parent and child. 

When you put down your phone, turn off the TV and computer, this speaks volumes to our children.  It lets them know they are the most important thing to you in the present moment.  Our children only want to feel connected to us.  When they feel this then they know they are loved, important, worthy, and that they matter.  Can you think of a better gift?  I know I cannot.  We all want to feel this in our lives no matter how old we are.

Emotions, the unexpected gift of being a conscious parent – Part 1

There are many gifts when you become a parent.  Those gifts come in varying sizes, shapes, temperaments and personalities.  There are also joys, tears, hopes, dreams, and all sorts of emotional pain.  I would like to talk about parenting from a conscious perspective.  Some are gifts are easily recognized like: feeling proud they took their first step, saying their first word, getting an A on a spelling test, a role in the school play, getting their driver’s license and getting into college.  However, I ask you to consider that the real gifts are the ones that offer our children and us the opportunities for emotional growth. These are opportunities where we as parents have to watch their emotional growing pains.  Join me on a journey into the experience of parenting from a place of consciousness. 

  1. Bearing witness to the emotional storm until it passes.

You may wonder how this is a gift?  For some of us the emotional storms of our children are not very often and for others it seems that there is always a storm.  Being able to bear witness to your child’s emotional pain is a gift.  In order for someone to be in such a deep place of pain in front of you they must be able to trust you enough to feel safe.  That is where the gift lies.  Yes, it is no fun to watch, hear or feel but no one ever said that parenting would be all fun and games.  When you were told there would be times that would be challenging and hard, this is one of those times “they” were talking about. 

When we embody being conscious, we hold the space and stillness for our emotionally distraught child.  As a conscious parent you accept the As-Is of your child’s emotional state and bear witness to her pain non-reactively. 

You know that their emotions are not about you.  In fact, their meltdown has nothing to do with you at all.  It is all about your child.  About her fears, his worries, her concerns about who she is or who she is not.  But in the end, by being there, by holding the energetic space, and not reacting or taking it personally your child is allowed to be.  She can have a full range of emotions feeling safe with you to have them. When the storm does pass, she can come back to her center and feel whole, not broken, not dumb, not feeling ugly, or anything else, but herself.  As a conscious parent we accept that our child’s tantrums, meltdowns, teenage rudeness, etc. is not about us nor directed at us.  We remain centered and grounded in our own self and are safe container for your child to weather their own emotional storm.

         At the end of the day, your child says to you:

         “Thank you for making me feel better.”

         You ask: “How did I do that.” 

         She says: “By being there for me.” 

You smile inside knowing in that moment, sitting there, holding the space and allowing her to be was worth every tear she needed to shed.

       

2. Bearing witness to the unfolding spirit of your child.

Parenting consciously means we are able to be in a place of knowing and trusting that there is nothing to fix.

Your child arrived in this world just the way they were meant to arrive, with all of their innate gifts intact.  It is up to us to sit, watch, guide and nourish their unfolding and blossoming.  As a conscious parent we listen to them with an open heart and create space for them to explore the world in areas where they are naturally drawn.  If they want to learn about space, let them.  Dig in the mud, allow it.  Run on a track team, go for it.  Climb trees, hold your breath.  Maybe you always had the fantasy your child would be a doctor or lawyer but they are an artist.  It is up to us as conscious parents, not to put them in a box we built.

We imagined who they would be since before they were born, or maybe even conceived.  As conscious parents we are called upon to recognize that the dream is our dream and not theirs.  We must detach from our dream because when we do not, we project all of our fears onto them.  Fears of what if they never do or become what our fantasy is. 

Instead, build with them the space for their own special gifts to flourish without an agenda or timeline.  Release your expectations of who you believe they are or should be.  That expectation is yours and not theirs.   So, if your child wants to go to graduate school to “avoid adulting” a little longer and pursue their artistic career, you support their venture.  You support it because it is their life, they came here to live, not yours. They did not come here to meet our needs or live out our dreams.  They came here to live theirs. 

3. Your child came here to teach you.

Your child is the mirror and will show up in many ways to reflect back to you what you need to look at within yourself.   Start by being in gratitude for each time you yell, lose your cool and react.  These are your teaching moments for growth and healing. 

Next pay attention to what is going on for you.  It is time to look inside.  When you are reacting, it is important to take a breath and pause.  It is in this pause you can look at where you feel the emotion in your body just before you lose your cool.  Does your stomach get tight?  Maybe your heart races.  Are you getting a headache?  Do you feel like you want to vomit?  All of these physical symptoms are clues that there is an unhealed emotional wound you have been carrying around for a long while.  I invite you to spend time with the physical discomfort and allow yourself time to explore it. 

Ask yourself some hard questions like; where did this feeling come from? Do I know it from another time in my life?  Am I attaching a story to the feeling and reacting from an old recording?  How old was I when I first felt this feeling?  What was happening in my life at that time?

Tuning into these feelings, which are held in the body, are the keys to unlocking the doors to the past which keeps us stuck in old patterns and belief systems.  

When we can open the doors and unchain our self from the past, we can then be in the present with our child(ren). Being present allows you to respond with present moment awareness and not from old programming.

4. Growing into your own self-awareness.

     Parenting is a time for you to grow into you.  You may have thought that you were already a grown up but then you find yourself face to face with a toddler having a tantrum or hormonal teenager who pushes the limits. It is in these moments, when you are aware that you want to have your own tantrum too, that you realize you still have some growing to do.  Parenting brings us to our knees; it humbles us and our children are masters at showing us our emotional pain points. 

If you are lucky enough to have insight that you are not responding to your child’s behavior in the most calm and centered way then you have been given a gift.  And I know it does not feel that way but trust me, it is.

It is a gift of self-awareness. With this gift you become empowered to choose to heal and change. 

You get to allow yourself space and time to embark on your own growing up and reparent the self.  When we begin to raise our self, we are healing our own wounded inner child. The wounded inner child is the one inside of you who has been longing to be heard, seen, understood and forgiven. 

The adult self of the here and now is the one with the ability to do that.  This is why self-awareness is a gift, because with awareness you begin to heal.  My favorite Anis Nin quote says it all, “And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  Get ready to blossom, opening that bud may hurt but once you fully bloom it will be glorious.

Are you ready to learn more about conscious parenting? Janet is a Certified Conscious Parenting Coach. She is a graduate of Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s Conscious Parenting Method Coaching Institute. Email Janet at JanetPhilbin.com for a free consultation.