Blog: Conscious Parenting Part 2: Children’s Highest Potential
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
If I had to define one goal that we, as parents, must do our best to attain, it would be to protect and cultivate our children’s highest potential in the world. Naturally, every child’s highest potential has its own expression. Every child has a set of gifts that she brings into the world that resonate with the child’s deepest calling. You will find that I use the phrase “highest potential” interchangeably here with “a child’s deepest calling,” “the child’s most authentic expression,” and “the child’s gifts,” because each of these offers a different view and definition that points to the complexity of the deepest aspects of our children.
But how do we support our children’s authentic expression in the world? We must at once try to tune ourselves to this deepest aspect of our children, understand its requirements, and avoid impeding its expression while at the same time creating structures that support it. This may sound like rubbing your belly and tapping your head at the same time – and, indeed, it is. But it is something that we can learn to do.
Many great educators have spoken to this issue of the child’s potential, including Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner. (See The Absorbent Mind, Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook, and The Education of the Child: And Early Lectures on Education (Foundations of Waldorf Education).) Each, in their own way, offered structures that support children in having the freedom to discover their own unique talents, gifts, and capacities. And they also offered structures to address areas of weakness or obstacles children may have which affect their ability to move fully into the world with those native gifts.
Here are some tasks, centered on a set of questions that can support you if you feel motivated to connect more deeply with your child’s deepest calling and move out of the way of its expression:
How do I recognize my child’s deepest calling?
Watch what your child is drawn to. When you do this you may find that it is surprisingly easy to recognize your child’s deepest calling, as children are naturally drawn to their highest calling if they are not interrupted.
How do I recognize my child’s gifts?
Again, watch what your child is drawn to. And, in addition, watch what games your child creates, what stories your child tells, and the way your child seeks to express herself.
Why do I have to get out of the way of the expression of my child’s potential?
We tend to think of our children as ours. But they actually belong to themselves. If they are lucky, their path through life is a long one that extends beyond the few years we care for them. It is important to consider that your ideas about what you want for your child beyond wanting them to be safe and happy might in some way interrupt their natural expression. How many of you wanted to be an artist, but were told by your parents you had to go to business school? What message did this give you about the possibility of being supported in the world by your deepest calling? How does this affect you on a daily basis today?
With this information, consider how important it is to give your child the message that he can trust his deepest calling and that he will be able to find a way to let the expression of that calling, whatever that expression may be, support him. Give him practice in letting all the potential in that calling express itself by supporting what he loves. And step out of the way.
I will speak to the question of how to get out of the way in detail in the next post. In the meantime, if you are seeking some inspiration and instruction in this process, which can be more difficult than we imagine, you can take a look at Deepak Chopra’s book, The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents. Some upcoming Sacred Steam courses that may be particularly helpful for parents are Conscious Parenting and Coming to Peace: The Inner Self.
Editors’ note: This is the second post in a series on parenting. You can read the previous post here.