Blog: Conscious Parenting Part 1: Six Essential Questions for Parents
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
I am a parent of two children, and I have been counseling and teaching families and individuals for more than twenty years. Over the course of the last ten years, I have seen many of the central issues around parenting shift drastically, mainly due to the more central role that technology now plays in the family.
The challenges that parents face today in raising children are very different from the challenges their parents faced. Not only do parents have to figure out how to function on less sleep, they also have to determine the role they want technology to play in their children’s lives. As parents find themselves with less time than they would like to be able to devote to parenting, they have to come up with clear strategies for enrichment, discipline, and many other important issues. This is difficult when people find themselves trying to navigate the issues around work-life balance, and face down issues such as self-doubt and guilt about the choices they must make.
Because parents are parenting in such a different environment today, role models and standards that may have applied in the past do not serve as well. This compounds an already age old problem that many of us have been parented by people who were not parented well. Many parents just don’t have the role models they need readily at hand when they are trying to make decisions about screen time, toilet training, Internet privacy issues, and curfews. It is important, therefore, for parents to seek out role models who hold values that resonate with their own.
In order to do this, parents have to define their own values. And, if parents want to be able to raise children who can meet the challenges of the future with an open heart and a focused mind, they must not only understand but clearly communicate their values to their children in what they do and what they say. In order to be able to do this, parents must spend some time learning what their values are.
This may sound simple, but it is surprising how many people struggle to articulate their values for themselves – much less for their children. The effort to engage in this articulation is very important – in fact, it may be one of the most important steps parents who want to parent more consciously must take.
If you are not completely clear about what is most important to you and what values you want your children to bring into the world as they mature and take their place in confronting the complexities of the modern environment, here are some prompts to help you begin to explore these questions:
· What are two ethical values that are important to you?
· If you are co parenting, what are two ethical values you believe to be important to your co parent?
· What are the similarities between your set of values here and your co-parent’s?
· If there are differences, what is your strategy for bridging those differences so you can present a unified message to your children?
· If your values are similar, what kinds of activities and interactions do you create on a regular basis to communicate those values to your children?
· Given the importance of these values, whom do you have in your corner offering support to help you continue to address these values in parenting your children?
Exploration and awareness of values is so important because values become the structures we offer our children, within which they learn to express themselves. If we do not have clarity around our own values, we cannot offer effective structures to them. And worse, if we have no values, or have values that actually inhibit the authentic expression of the child, our children will spend important developmental time trying to adapt themselves to these values that have nothing to do with their own authentic expression and which, in fact, may impede it. How many of us spent time trying to navigate around a parent who had anger issues, or issues with addiction? What did that do to your ability to know what called to us from our own heart?
One of the resources I have always found helpful for getting clear on what my values are around different issues is His Holiness, the Dalai Lama’s book Ethics for a New Millennium. Even though he is not focused on the issue of parenting, his thoughts on what goes into the development of a coherent value system is an excellent resource for anyone wrestling with these questions.
One of our most important tasks as parents is to try to develop a family system whose structures support the authentic expression of the highest potential of our children – to help them learn how to listen to what is calling them in their hearts. We will explore more about how to do this in the next installment of this series on Conscious Parenting.
Editors’ Note: We hope you have enjoyed this first installment extended series on parenting and families from a Depth Hypnosis perspective. If you want to explore this in greater depth, several upcoming courses you may consider are Relationship and Power, Conscious Parenting, and Depth Hypnosis Foundation Course.