The latest trend of ‘Conscious Parenting’ may sound like a passing craze to be ignored. But mum-of-three Rebecca Hunter-Kelm explains how doing it with Jesus can be transformational.
I vowed I’d never get into screaming matches with my kids. Then I became a parent.
Like all caregivers, I have been figuring what discipline looks like in my family as I go along. I’ve read my fair share of parenting books, and ‘Conscious Parenting’ is a bit of a buzzword these days. Still, few parenting philosophies require the parent to examine their own heart during the ups and downs of raising kiddos. As a mother of faith, I think that’s where I should be starting.
The principles of conscious parenting outlined in Dr. Shefali’s book, The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering our Children, I’ve found very helpful in bringing up my littles. As a conscious parent, when you run into any conflict with your kid (and you want to flip your lid!), you’re called to look inward at yourself instead of focussing on the problem or your child’s behaviour. You take a moment and breathe and mindfully ask yourself what you’re feeling.
Shefali discusses how we are all shaped by our childhoods and life experiences. Only by letting go of our emotional baggage can we release our kids to grow up to become their individual, unique selves. This process not only strengthens the connection between parent and child, the child learns that their parent accepts them for who they truly are. They can then flourish and grow. Isn’t that what any parent wants?
The other day, I heard my eldest son, 7, telling his brothers: ‘Mummy just needs a minute.’
These days when things kick off in my house, I’ll sometimes just exit the room when I feel like I’m going to lose it. (The other day, I heard my eldest son, 7, telling his brothers: ‘Mummy just needs a minute.’)
This is where Christ comes into my conscious parenting. I breathe. I pray. I ask Him to reveal what’s going on in my heart and why I feel the way I do. He will often bring a memory from my own childhood to mind. He sometimes reveals a fear that I have been holding onto.
I can then forgive - and let go. I recall the truth- that my child isn’t a monster bent on hurting me or grinding my gears! I remember I am loved by God (and that my kid loves me too). I then ask Jesus to show me what is going on with my kid.
I breathe. I pray. I ask Him to reveal what’s going on in my heart and why I feel the way I do.
When I pause with Christ as a conscious parent, I sometimes get to the bottom of why my child is acting out. Sometimes I don’t. But, every time, conscious parenting helps me see my child as a created being in their own right- they’re not ‘mine,’ nor are they an extension of me and my lived experiences. They are a beloved son or daughter of God, created by Him for his unique purpose. Often in the toughest mummying moments, what I need the most is to remember who I am.
Nine out of ten times Jesus and I stand outside the playroom (holding hands practicing our deep breathing together), it’s after I’ve failed. I’ve shouted, lost it, rolled my eyes, or criticized my child. When I’ve messed up, as a conscious parent with Christ I catch myself before I free-fall into all-consuming guilt and take five. I can pray, repent, and remember who Jesus says I am.
Only by graspinging that Jesus loves and accepts me as the imperfect parent that I am, can I go back into that playroom, picking my way over lego pieces (hacking through the atmosphere with my imaginary knife). I reconnect with my child. I speak gently, and I apologise if I need to. I set the necessary boundaries. Sometimes a consequence is required for some behaviour, sometimes not, but every time we reconnect and then move on.
While Conscious Parenting might not be for everyone (what is?), my experience of being a conscious parent with Christ has been nothing but positive.
While Conscious Parenting might not be for everyone (what is?), my experience of being a conscious parent with Christ has been nothing but positive. It has made for fewer screaming matches in our home, responsive discipline rather than reactive, opportunities for me to gain insight into my own heart, and deeper connection with my children- even during conflict or discipline.