My daughter’s a free spirit. Parenting her has been a unique and wonderful journey with challenges only meant for warriors.
Like Personal Growth on Facebook
Here’s everything that’s wrong with parenting a free spirit (or any child) with traditional, out-dated control and discipline tactics.
We were taught everything we think and believe is right by our parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors.
As kids, we learned from our parents how to behave, what was right and wrong.
We weren’t taught, unless we were very lucky, how to listen to our own inner guide, intuition, and wisdom.
Our parents were taught all these same things by theirs. We/they had no other gauge or filter for whether or not what we were being taught was true or right.
We took it at face value because they were our parents and they were responsible for us (had control over us) and we were supposed to listen.
Bottom line; do what you’re told, act this certain way and not that way, do not get upset or angry or have your own opinion about anything (or else you’ll be punished) and above all, be good.
Think of all the childhood situations your friends have shared with you for a minute.
There are stories of abuse; physical, mental and emotional. We all agree abuse, in general, is wrong and those parents were doing it wrong.
Now think of all the stories you know, maybe even your own, where kids were told to be seen and not heard. Or, “Don’t upset your father,” or “Don’t talk back to me!”
Was that right or wrong? Was it abuse, or just proper parenting? Is teaching your kid their opinion doesn’t matter and not to speak up when they’re upset right? It was in my parent’s generation. And probably their parents.
What behavior dictates the need for punishment and what kind of punishment is “right?” What if all punishment or discipline is a need for control by the parent?
Beyond keeping your child safe and healthy, what’s right parenting when it comes to how you want your kid to be when they grow up?
They’re going to be so many different answers to this question, it’s not worth fighting over which one is right.
Just like religion, what beliefs are the correct beliefs? None of them. If God is love, then every religion (or belief about parenting) should follow the same general rule; be love.
But we aren’t showing “love” to our kids, are we? We’re control freaks. We have to shape them and mold them and shove them into a box with the label “Right.”
We do this so that they’ll be good people, good citizens, successful, contributing members of our communities.
We have so many reasons we parent the way we think we should; including being afraid of what other parents or people will think if we do it differently.
But doing it differently is how we’ll change the world.
We aren’t portraying love to our kids. Love doesn’t judge or make rules about how someone expresses themselves.
Love doesn’t hurt or punish people for speaking up their truth. Love is acceptance, patience, creativity, awareness, kindness, and healing.
Parenting our kids should be a practice in holding a loving, healing space for our kids while they explore who they are, figure out what their own truths and values are, and discover their purpose, mission and calling in the world.
It should not be a practice in our own control issues.
We’re afraid, so we think we should parent like our parents did.
We think we know what’s right, so even though it doesn’t feel good, we do it that way. We yell, scream, judge, punish, discipline, make rules, give time outs and try to get our kids to behave the way they’re supposed to in an effort to be good parents and make ourselves look good.
If the kids are well behaved, quiet, successful, perfect…well, that must mean we are also. Right?
The difference between parenting the way you think you’re supposed to and with awareness is everything, but it’s going to require you get your warrior on.
It’s going to require you heal yourself and all your own childhood wounds.
It’s going to require you take a close, hard look at yourself and your beliefs and realize those may not necessarily be the ones your kid has or should have.
The difference between parenting with awareness is coming at your kid with an energy of love, compassion, kindness, patience, awareness, and curiosity, rather than fear, doubt, shame, control and obligation.
It’s going to mean allowing your kid to have their emotions no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel or how different those emotions are from yours.
It’s going to mean redefining respect. It’s going to mean changing the idea of misbehaving to understanding that as a parent you can’t control, you can only model the behavior you want to see.
Aware parenting’s about doing your own healing work, alone and in every moment with your kids.
It’s about observing your thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors, all the time, and adjusting your responses based on that awareness.
It’s about feeling and understanding your own intuition.
It’s about doing what feels good inside of you, what vibrates with love, patience, joy and kindness…instead of blindly following rules you were taught, just because someone else said they’re right.
And this isn’t all going to be a “feel good” thing if you’re starting to think to yourself that I’m being a Pollyanna.
Believe me, parenting with awareness will require you to feel; everything. It will not feel good some days.
You’ll have to practice the awareness to catch yourself in the act of behaving based on old ways of thinking.
You’ll have to practice a fierce amount of self-control and patience during those temper tantrums.
You’ll have to take responsibility for your own feelings and emotions while allowing your kid to have theirs in a safe, open, healing space.
It’s not easy. And it will change everything.
The Biggest Fear
Getting over your biggest fear, which probably goes something like; If I don’t control my kid, or teach them what’s right and wrong, they’re going to be a horrible person.
If I let them speak their mind, be angry or upset, or do whatever they want to do then they’ll turn out to be a dysfunctional member of society and I will have failed as a parent/person.
If they misbehave in public I’ll be seen as a bad parent/person.
If they don’t think, believe and behave the “right” way; with respect, kindness, and discipline, then I’ve failed, and what could be worse, they might fail in life.
Are you with me? I thought so.
Fear’s a tricky thing. Your fears come from things you were taught early on.
Experiences you had. The baggage you took on. Worries you incorporated into your daily routine.
None of that necessarily will be passed on to your kid, unless you try real hard. Your stuff isn’t theirs. But your healing is.
When you heal your own fears, take a look at and transform your own childhood wounds, an amazing thing happens; your kids heal too.
Hang in there now, I know I’m getting woo woo for some of you. The healing journey isn’t about doing things perfectly in regards to your kids.
It’s about healing yourself. That’s how things change for the next generation.
And the only way we’ll do that is by practicing the awareness it takes to move through our fears and do things differently.
“Without awareness, there is no choice.” John F. Barnes
With awareness, you get the choice to follow your own intuition and wisdom when it comes to parenting your kids.
You begin to connect with your own internal guidance system; the only system that holds the truth when it comes to what’s right for you.
This internal GPS for your soul will give you the messages you need for the clarity you crave when it comes to making important decisions; especially those regarding your kids.
If you can’t feel or weren’t ever taught to listen to or trust that internal system, you have some practice to do.
Healing your own wounds and fears is part of the practice and awareness’s the way you’ll do it. Shifting your biggest fears into your biggest transformation is the path of awareness.
Changing your thoughts, beliefs, and actions to coincide with what feels good and right inside of you, instead of being based on what you were taught is good and right means the difference between parenting with love and parenting with control.
It’s the difference between patient listening while your kid expresses their anger and controlling their anger by shutting them down, calling their voice disrespectful and punishing them for using it.
If some of this resonates and you find yourself here, but not sure how to go about changing your ways, take a deep breath and smile.
You’ve had an awareness that’ll change everything.
If you realize you’ve been following everyone else’s rules about life but your own, and it’s never felt good inside of you to do that; relax, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
You start now, with the awareness you have, doing things a little differently.
The solution is your own healing. What’ll it take for you to feel? What do you need to do about your own thoughts, beliefs, and actions?
What feels like someone else’s rules? What feels like your truth. You might take all of these questions and do some journaling on them to help you discover some of the answers.
The next time your kid comes at you and you begin to feel uncomfortable; check in with the reactions you have.
Can you do things differently this time? Can you recognize your need for control vs. your kid’s need to be heard?
Can you choose another way to think, believe or act that serves your truth and honors their feelings? Can you choose love this time?