We tend to think of childhood as preparation for adulthood and almost forget that childhood has its own value. Our lives start from the moment we are conceived, not on our 18th birthday. Why not aim for happy, confident, spiritually-connected children who can continue that way into adulthood? I believe we are born aligned with Life but we are quickly socialised to align ourselves instead with such fleeting things as achievement, ownership and social popularity. Then, consciously or not, we spend the rest of our lives trying to return to the connected state we arrived in! As our spirituality is often ignored by the adults in our young lives, we may not know how to reconnect. If we think of parenting as helping our children to stay in the spiritually-aligned state in which they arrive, we will see that there is no need to control and micro-manage them as we often do.
So, it is not our job to make our children into who they are. God has already done that and who are we to interfere with Her divine plan?! Our children are not here to:
live the life we wanted.
be who we wish we could be.
mini versions of ourselves (1 is plenty!).
be socially acceptable.
be our trophies.
SO WHAT IS OUR JOB AS PARENTS?
To nurture their souls.
“We want what we consider to be “best” for our children, but in seeking to bring this about, we can easily forget that the most important issue is their right to be their own person and lead their own life in accord with their unique spirit”. – Dr Shefali Tsabary, “The Conscious Parent”.
And how do we nurture them, spiritually? I have had to start a blog to figure this out! Everything I write will ultimately be part of the answer to this question. Having barely begun, I can only speak (write) generally for now and hope that more clarity comes over time. Spiritual nurturing seems to require that we begin with our awareness of our children’s truth and their awareness of themselves:
1. Be present with our children so that we can see who they truly are – eg. what absorbs them? what are their strengths? what’s important to them? how do they respond to different situations & people?… Our children can show us who they are and what they need. We can then make parenting decisions based on what we know is true for them.
2. Help our children to be self-aware through conversation – eg. their thoughts & feelings, what you notice about them, reflections on their behaviour… These discussions would sound very different with a 3-year-old than a 16-year-old. Sometimes, they’ll be a 30-second exchange, sometimes they’ll exceed an hour.
THE NEXT STEP: PARENTING FROM LOVE VS FEAR
Having made a commitment to really know our children and help them to know themselves, we must then parent them according to what we have discovered. This is unconditional love.
As parents, I think we can fall into the trap of focusing on what we perceive as our children’s shortcomings, a deficit-based approach. We concentrate too much on filling in the gaps but don’t always succeed because this wasn’t how they were meant to be. Filling in the gaps of a sieve changes what it is and doesn’t allow it to perform it’s function anymore. Often we do this gap-filling in a well-intended effort to protect our children from failure (academic, social, physical…). Sometimes it’s because we believe our children reflect upon ourselves and we wish to stand proudly in front of others, not embarrassed. But this is fear-based parenting.
Wouldn’t we rather parent from love? With a child-led approach, we put our resources into growing our children’s God-given uniqueness. We give love to all aspects of them – love that grows their strengths and supports them through struggles without judgment. When parenting from love, rather than fear, the results are so much more satisfying – our relationship with our children deepens, they thrive.
IN SUMMARY: PERFECT AS THEY ARE
I see the thoughtfulness & kindness my son shows towards his best friend & his brother and I know that his sense for other people’s needs is one of his gifts. He is wonderful as he is, already making a difference in this world, even though he is only 5, writes half the letters of the alphabet backwards and leaves his Lego scattered over his bedroom floor. Think of how watching a newborn baby stirs our souls, reminding us of our own innocence & potential – people have an impact from birth, doing nothing but being themselves! From the womb, even, we affect those around us – just knowing her baby is cuddled up inside changes a woman and creates anticipation in those around her. Souls arrive, as babies, already contributing. When we, as their parents, have faith in our children, we encourage and allow them to be the perfect souls that they already are.
From the moment I knew I was pregnant with each of my sons, I was so excited to see who God had blessed me with. I love getting to know the complexities of their personalities. I love seeing how naturally connected with Spirit they are. God has put my boys in my care but they do not belong to me. I am honoured to be entrusted with the task of nurturing their little souls.
Much love to you and your little souls,
If you found this post thought-provoking, subscribe to get new blog posts sent straight to your inbox.