Parenting can be one of the most rewarding and challenging ways of learning about ourselves and others. Children learn from a very young age how the world is through the eyes of their parents and caregivers. If you wanted to go deeper into the relationship, we can begin to see our children as guides for ourselves also. I began my own inner journey when my son was only 11 years of age, I started to learn that he was showing me aspects of myself and the importance of the healing work that I needed to complete. There is no greater motivator than your children to be the best version of yourself, for in this way, you are modelling and pathing the way for them - showing them what is possible and the invaluable lesson that our power lies within our own spirit.
So how do we create a conscious relationship with our children? This is probably one of the most challenging but rewarding goals of our human existence. It all begins with a simple realisation that our role as parents is to guide and discipline our children and to prepare them for the world when they leave home. There is a process that involves teaching them about different aspects of life, helping them to socialise, learn self-discipline, be a good role model and a letting go process when they leave the family home. All of these stages of the child's life is experienced by both parent and child but it is important to get the "timing right" for each process and what each stage of the parent/child relationship involves. Becoming aware of these different stages can be tricky, and this is where a counsellor can assist you step into the necessary stage for any given time of the child's life.
There are different styles of parenting that are associated with different patterns of child development (Linver et al., 2002):
Authoritative parents are controlling but warm. They establish clear rules, consistently enforce them and reward children's compliance with warmth and affection. They communicate high expectations, caring and support. This is the most positive childhood outcomes. Children with authoritative parents tend to have high self-esteem, are higher achievers in school and have fewer conduct problems.
Authoritarian parents also exert control but do so within a cold, unresponsive or rejecting relationship. Their children tend to have lower self-esteem, be less popular with peers and perform more poorly in school than children with authoritative parents.
Indulgent parents have warm, caring relationships with their children but do not provide the guidance and discipline that help children learn responsibility and concern for others. Their children tend to be more immature and self-centred.
Neglectful parents don't provide warmth or rules or guidance. Their children are most likely to be insecurely attached, to have low achievement motivation and disturbed peer relationships, and to be impulsive and aggressive. Neglectful parenting is the associated with the most negative developmental outcomes.
These parenting styles are a good guide as to where parents could identify their current parenting style and a great place to start when beginning a conscious parenting relationship. Knowing where you are at and being honest with yourself is the beginning and assists with the improvement and growth of the conscious parenting relationship. You may have some aspects in one of the above categories and some in another, but what is important is knowing where you are at in the relationship. What a lot of people don't realise also is that we are deeply connected to our children, not only on the physical level but mentally and spiritually as well. These "unseen" areas are just as important as our own mental and emotional states and also influence our children's mental and emotional state. Conscious parenting is also understanding the importance of being fully present when talking to your children, when applying discipline and creating a safe environment in the home for the children to be able to express their different emotional states.
Being a parent is having clarity on what our role is and the power that lies within all of us.
Nikki Staley has been assisting parents of all ages to step into the role of "conscious parent" for over 10 years with her numerous skills as a holistic counsellor and meditation teacher. For more information go to www.staleyhealth.com
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Nikki is a Metaphysician, Holistic Counsellor, Reiki Master and Teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge on holistic health and wellbeing.