Being a parent is a very fulfilling (and sometimes thankless) job, but it can also be one of the most powerful means for spiritual growth. There are so many life lessons we can learn from being a parent if we direct our consciousness towards growth and transformation. Not only do we help shape our children, but we can also shape ourselves in the process.
Here are 5 tips for transformational parenting:
1. View the entire parenting experience as a process for you to grow.
We sometimes think as the adult, we should have all the answers. In truth, our children can teach us so much about the world and ourselves.
An important part of our spiritual work is growing and transforming into more sharing, selfless versions of ourselves every day. There are few endeavors in life that force us to change and share as much as having kids. They challenge us and push us in ways that can be frustrating, demanding, or painful at times, but also provide powerful opportunities for us to become the best versions of ourselves.
In challenging times, know that the experience is making you a better person, even if you might not be able to see how in the moment. Get excited about being shown parts of yourself that need to change. Know that your soul is meant to change in ways conscious and unconscious, and your life with your child is for the purpose of transformation.
2. Embrace changing dynamics as your child grows.
Just when you think you’ve learned to understand your child, something in them changes, and the learning curve starts all over again. Often because children are so dependent on us in the early years, when they start needing independence, the transition can be difficult for the parent. Most of the time, our struggles as parents stem from trying to control our children while they are trying to be individuals and figure out who they are supposed to be.
Just like any relationship in our lives, parenting requires us to embrace change. Whether it’s the terrible twos, the angst of puberty, or the transition to adulthood, our children change over time and so must our relationship with them. To create a relationship that is ever-evolving for the positive, change must be a part of the process. Instead of resisting change, embrace it, even in the challenging moments.
3. Strive to hear your child’s deepest wants and desires and to see them as they really are.
Often, we hear our children’s complaints – their shoes are too small, they’re thirsty, they want a snack – but we don’t really listen to them on the deepest levels. This can sometimes lead us to push our own ideas on them about who they are or who they should be.
Listening doesn’t just mean when they are talking, but also paying attention to who they are, not for who you want them to become, but who they are destined to become.
Hearing their desires doesn’t mean we give them everything they want all the time. But if we are interested in all the parts of our children and dedicate the time to see them, they feel safe and heard. As a result, they are then open to what we have to offer in a more complete way.
4. Be conscious of the fact your child has their own life journey that you cannot control.
As parents, we usually think we know what’s best for our children. We want them to be healthy, happy, successful, and have a quality life, but sometimes this turns into a desire to control them. Often consciously or unconsciously we think it is our job to mold them into what we think is best. We may fear they are going to make a bad decision or try to save them from failure.
The truth is that our kids are not ours to own. They are unique souls with a unique purpose and unique life. We have a part in bringing them into the world and helping them grow, but what they become has nothing to do with what we want them to become. We can support them to become the best version of themselves without forcing them down a certain track.
This also means that their mistakes are not your failures as a parent. Separate your ego from the child and be conscious of the fact they have their own journey and are their own being.
5. Instead of trying to be a “perfect” parent, focus on being “good enough.”
Many parents put incredible pressure on themselves to be perfect and can be really hard on themselves when they fail to live up to that impossible standard. The truth is, a “perfect” parent that always has the answers, prevents their children from getting hurt, and provides everything they want is not really what children need in order to grow. Even if we were able to cater to all their needs all the time without any pain or difficulty, at some point, they need to enter the real world, where there are challenges to face and obstacles to overcome. Sheltering them from difficulty does not prepare them for life’s hurdles.
The real “perfect” parent is the one that is “good enough.” They try their best but sometimes fail. They strive to learn from their mistakes and not dwell on them. None of us can possibly be perfect, nor should we strive to be. Be okay with being good enough.
Parenting is one of the most challenging experiences one can go through in life. But like any challenge, there is incredible opportunity for Light, wisdom, and spiritual growth. Focus on the lessons that parenting is teaching you, embrace change, strive to see your child as they really are, support them in their journey, and don’t be too hard on yourself when you make mistakes.