Take Equal Responsibility
One of the principles of conscious parenting is that
we take equal responsibility in the situations that are occurring in our family.
If my kid is behaving in a certain way
instead of just placing the responsibility and the blame all on her,
I take equal responsibility for the situation and the community.
I also, therefore, include myself as part of the solution.
Start By Asking Yourself Questions
One strategy I use is when my kid behaves in a way that I would prefer they didn’t
I first asked myself the question:
“What have I done to contribute to this situation?”
“How have I created an environment which encourages them to behave this way?”
If I am honest I can usually spot many answers to these questions.
It is very useful because then I can see how I have contributed to the situation.
Perhaps I wasn’t giving enough empathy, perhaps I was modeling inappropriate behaviour,
perhaps I didn’t notice that my daughter was in pain or needed support in some way
and these things contributed to the difficult behaviour.
Then Think About How To Best Respond
Once I have spent some time evaluating these questions I can then think about how to respond.
Very rarely is my instant reaction the best course of action.
Usually it is defensiveness, frustration or anger
that comes out in the face of some kind of rudeness or inappropriate behaviour.
Don’t Let Your Actions Come From Your Reactions
Instead of letting my actions come from my reactions
I prefer them to come from a well thought out and emotionally balanced place.
Now Think About The Solution
Therefore when thinking of a solution I ask myself:
“What is the underlying cause?”
“What do I really want in this case?”
It rarely is simply to change their behaviour.
This is because behaviour stems from feelings and thoughts.
Negative behaviour comes from negative feelings, pain or trauma.
This requires inner work, healing and love.
It can also come from having learned behaviour patterns through what they have witnessed.
This means I must look at a deeper level of modeling.
In each of these cases though I have found it beneficial to take a step back
and create a plan rather than, as I said, react in the moment.
I Took A Step Back And Shut My Mouth!
Recently my daughter and I were in the kitchen.
She was holding her stomach and said to me.
“Oh boy dad, I ate too much. I’m thirsty, but I’m so full I can’t even have a drink.”
My first instinct was to say something about the wisdom of not overeating. I wanted to talk about respect for the body and being aware of when we have had enough to eat.
The Three Questions
But then my questions came to me:
“How have I contributed to this?”
“What Is The Underlying Cause?”
“What strategy would be most useful in addressing it?”
Over the years they have become a habit.
It took a while to integrate them into my consciousness,
but now they arise in my mind quite readily.
This immediately caused me to shut my mouth!
A Lecture Is Rarely Ever Useful,
No Matter How Good Or Necessary It May Feel
It would have really done no good to make my daughter feel judged or not accepted in that moment.
It also would have made her hesitant to share things like that with me in the future.
I realized that I often eat this way as well.
How reasonable is it for me to tell her not to do this
when I myself am guilty of it?
In thinking deeply about it I realized it’s not something she does every day
so perhaps a lecture wasn’t really going to be of any benefit.
Thinking About The Underlying Causes
I decided instead to spend some time thinking deeply about the nature of decisions around eating.
Sensitivity to our eating habits comes from a couple of different things.
One of them is loving our bodies.
Another is respecting and following our bodies wisdom.
And there are more of course.
These qualities are not things that can be lectured into somebody,
but they must be inspired.
So now I am in the process of thinking about and putting into action
some ways of inspiring these things in my daughter, deeper than I already have.
A Commitment To The Long-Term
Conscious parenting of this sort is a much longer and more involved process
than lecturing, punishing, controlling or ignoring.
The effects are not immediately obvious;
the action is not instant either.
Both action and effects end up being long term.
This certainly requires a lot of patience and self-regulation.
Of course we will make mistakes all along the way,
but the key is to get up and keep trying every time.
Striving to towards the highest ideals that we can.