On Conscious Parenting

Parenting is probably the hardest job in the world and though we have read countless articles on childcare, it still does not make it any easier. The never ending barrage from family members and friends, who are quick to pass on parenting advice leads to conflict. The reality is that no one is a perfect parent and along the way, we make countless mistakes.
We are constantly second guessing ourselves. “Was the punishment too severe? Did I yell too loud? Did I lose her trust? Did I shut him out?” Yes, we all have had those moments of doubt and regret.

While going through social media, I stumbled upon ‘Oprah’s life-class’ conducted by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. Intrigued by her advice on parenting I felt this was a whole new approach to how we handle our ‘toughest job’. I found her insight on parenting to be quite revolutionary and somewhat a game changer in our approach to connect with children.


Our Egoistic Agenda
As parents, many of us feel we are doing the best we can when it comes to our children. As Dr. Shefali explains, “The parenting journey is a tricky one because we are in charge.” It becomes less about listening and connecting with our children and more about meeting goals we have set for them. Children who are overly controlled by their parents grow up feeling powerless and lose a connection with their inner self. Their entire adult life then becomes a quest to rediscover this lost self. Dr. Shefali believes that this cycle needs to stop. Once we become parents ourselves, we need to fortify our child’s inner self so that they don’t live their entire life feeling disempowered. She further adds that as parents we get so attached to those goals that children’s entire self-worth is attached to one element of who they are as individuals and when these pillars crumble, their self esteem crumbles in the process. Instead, our praise should be based on their participation or how hard they worked and not merely on the result. In return they too will identify themselves and others based on those markers. Dr. Shefali believes it all starts from our fixation with all things external, with all things superficial, all things unessential and out of our fears.

Body Image Issues
Yes, at some point in our child’s life we have all heard phrases such as “mummy, I am dark,” or “mummy, I am not smart enough” or “mummy, I am fat” are some of the concerns they have about their physical appearance.
However, the message we are giving them is that we ourselves have bought into the idea of physical beauty. Instead, Dr. Shefali recommends that we need to tell our children, “You need to accept who you are today and I am not going to have a discussion about pretty and ugly because I don’t even know who is pretty and who is ugly, and based on what and whose parameters.” As parents, we must reinforce that all you see is the child’s inner essence and the inner beauty. We need to tell our child to start tapping into what’s inside them at this moment and you will not engage in talks about pretty and ugly. We need to step back from what culture and stereotypical norm dictate to us in this regard.

Shefali Tsabary and Oprah Winfrey
Shefali Tsabary and Oprah Winfrey

Enhancing Natural Talent
We all know it’s important to enhance our child’s natural talent and not push them into activities that we are interested in or what we missed out as a child. However, to know what our child’s natural gift is takes patience. At times we feel we have to compete with other families or friends whose children are doing a series of countless activities from a very young age. However, Dr. Shefali advises to wait until the child shows a natural inclination towards certain activities. This might be prevalent when the child comes around six or seven years of age. Patience is the cornerstone that parents need in order to develop a healthy relationship with their children’s needs.

Stop Fixing
From the time your two year old brings his broken toy or a torn page, our reaction has been to fix it. But what works best is to stop mending their issues and help them resolve it themselves. Just as you want your child to buy into the idea that you have his or her best interest at heart you need to buy into your child’s idea of what is best for him or her. However, the ‘hands off’ approach doesn’t always work. Kids needs to feel that you are coming to them with a willingness to hear and understand the problem. We ought to help them pick up the pieces when they fall. For every challenge that life throws at them, they need to have the confidence to move forward and though it may be heart-breaking at times doing nothing and having them resolve their own conflicts, it is the best thing we can do for them.