Parenting as a Spiritual Practice
Did you know that we learn to parent, by the way we were parented, at least subconsciously. That may or may not be good news. What is helpful to know, is that our reactive thoughts and feelings come from our subconscious programs. Our job as we grow, is to upgrade the program, if it doesn’t reflect our deepest and truest values. When we start to challenge the program, parenting becomes more intentional and a creative practice. In the thick of my chaotic life with 4 unpredictable and constantly changing sons – I remember getting some guidance that transformed my experience of the craziness of parenthood.
To see our children as our greatest teachers, and parenting as a spiritual practice.
This changed everything for me. This seemed to bring on a much richer and more fulfilling meaning to the reality of washing copious amounts of clothes, muddy shoes, a house that looked like a bomb had hit it – and the fighting and arguing that would break out at the most socially embarrassing times. There are so many crazy moments that happen when you are parenting – you just have to shake your head and think WTF. It led me to experiment and play with the idea of parenting as a spiritual and creative act. Each day requires me to respond in the moment and follow my inner guidance in each situation. It led me to think that each moment is a moment of creation – what do I want to create with this situation? Frustration, trying to control, tears from both me and the boys – or just pause and invite a new level of awareness. Seeing the moment as an opportunity for growth and moving away from reactive, ego-driven control – to letting go and responding with awareness, curiosity and intention to bring love to the moment. Sounds like a big ask doesn’t it, but a goal worthy of pursuing.
Now I’m not suggesting you need to be like Buddha or Jesus or any form of enlightened perfection. Let me tell you, I didn’t always come from that place – but at least I knew it was an option. Over time my reactivity started to convert more to awareness and spaciousness to creatively respond.
Now mindset is everything – to be open to seeing things differently in the moment.
I had an interesting moment the other day that reminded me of parenting. I was walking my perfect Aussie shepherd dog Ned, and my sons young and stupid German shepherd, Zoe. Both dogs have a tendency to want to chase kangaroos so I have to keep them on leads when walking them in the mornings, even though we live in the bush where they can run out that frenetic energy that comes with two young dogs. Shepherds are funny because they run around in circles like they are rounding up sheep. There was a moment where they saw some kangaroos jumping, which is always a trigger, and they both went ballistic and managed to tie me up with their long leads within 30 seconds. I was stuck, I couldn’t walk because they had pinned my legs together, I couldn’t get a strong enough grip to pull them back, and they were so crazy they weren’t responding to my commands. I was pinned in this dog frenzy and completely helpless to even release them, let alone me. It was one of the moments where you say to yourself WTF. Then I just went into this fit of giggles. I was laughing so hard, I almost wet my pants. It was just such a ridiculous situation. Eventually, somehow I managed to release myself and keep them from chasing the roos – but I think it took about 20 minutes. The ability to laugh and see the funny side has been my saving grace on so many crazy parenting chaotic moments.
Pause and ask yourself some powerful questions in the middle of the hard difficult situations that can preserve your sanity and shift your mindset.
What is funny about this situation?
What can I learn from this situation?
What is this situation/ moment inviting me to be, do, think, feel?
These questions in the moment, are far more powerful than;
Why now? Why won’t you go to sleep? Why won’t you listen to me? – which is where we can all go sometimes, but leaves us with feelings of anger, frustration, futility, resignation and powerlessness to change the situation.
Have a play with power questions and catch those other questions that lead to feelings of futility and frustration. Cultivating the awareness of observing your thoughts, is the first step in changing your program from powerlessness to having some kind of agency even during situations you can’t control.
Stay cool, or not 😊