Blog: Conscious Parenting Part 4: Cultural Context
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
In the first post in this series on conscious parenting, I touched upon how important it is for us, as parents, to know what we value, because our values become the structures within which our children learn to express themselves. Then I discussed how we can foster the authentic expression of our children’s highest potential and how to get out of the way of this expression. Because the cultural context can have a significant influence on our children’s expression, it is also important for parents to determine how well this context is contributing to our children’s highest potential.
The cultural context, for the purposes of this post, consists of the values and priorities of the society in which you live. If you have values that are different from the surrounding society, it will be even more important for you to be clear about what your own values and priorities are, and communicate them clearly to your children. If you don’t, your children may absorb the values of those around them by default, and that may put you at odds with your children.
The issue of values also comes into play in a very powerful way as it becomes necessary to get specific about which elements within the larger cultural context you do and do not value. For instance, how do you feel about screen time versus interpersonal engagement? What role should technology play in early childhood development? What level of violence in computer games is acceptable to you? How do you feel about allowing children to play with toy guns? There are many articles available in the mainstream press to help you explore these issues. Recent ones include “6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health” and “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?“.
The choices that you make around values create the structures that support your child’s development. If you have no defined value system, the values of the larger cultural context will likely become the structure that supports – or impedes – the expression of your child’s potential. If your values are based in an unexamined response to the way you were parented, they will become the structure that supports – or impedes – the expression of your child’s potential.
If you enter into parenting with an awareness of the values that are driving your decisions around parenting, you will better know how to define and articulate your values. If you don’t have clear values, you cannot know how to create structures to support you in skillfully guiding the manifestation of your child’s highest potential.
So, as you embark on the challenge of stepping into more conscious parenting, just remember, all you have to do first is observe carefully what your child is drawn to. What stories is she telling you? How does he express himself?
Invest time in looking at your experience of being parented and see what worked for you and what did not. Take time to understand to what extent the way you were parented is informing your values and decisions in parenting. Understand what you value in the larger cultural context and what you do not.
If you follow these steps, you will know how to filter what you feel needs to be filtered from the larger cultural context and be in a position to create experiences for your child that offer enough structure to nurture her potential but not so much structure that it stifles the expression of her heart’s deepest calling.
In these times where we are facing societal upheaval, environmental destruction, and so much uncertainty about the prospects that technology has for delivering us from an increasingly unstable future, I believe it is our responsibility as parents to do our best to raise children who, as adults, meet the challenges of the future with an open heart and a focused mind. It will be much easier for them to attain this level of clarity if they can listen to their heart’s calling – and if they know what their gifts are – and if they can trust the expression of their highest potential and know it will support not only themselves but also those around them.
If you would like to explore these matters in more depth and gain more insight into how to parent more consciously, please join us at the Sacred Stream not only for the classes in Conscious Parenting, but also for the series of classes on relationship: Relationship and Karma, Relationship and Power, and Coming to Peace: The Inner Self. And remember, if you are expecting, Tracking Spirit in the Birth Environment will also support you in bringing greater consciousness into your family life and your path as a parent.