Conscious Parenting and Managing My Anxiety

“One of the most powerful truths
We can offer our children
Is the knowledge that we’re all still learning.
None of us have arrived;
We all have room to grow.
This frees our kids from expecting
Perfection of themselves---
Or anyone else---because they know
That life is a journey,
From day one on.”
--Erica Layne

When listening to my kids’ feelings, the most challenging part of parenting for me is managing my own anxiety. I am constantly trying to tease out what is my hurt and what is my kids’ hurt. As a grown up, I bring a lot of baggage; memories of being teased and hurt by others and all of the feelings that surround that. When my kids confront situations that are hard, where someone says something “bullying” to them or when something is uncomfortable and challenging for them, I find it hard not to let all those hurt feelings inside of me float up to the surface. What I struggle to remember is that my kids don’t have the same life experiences, the same years that I have had but all those feelings flood over when I see them struggling with something really hard. I have to remember to breathe and to feel it but, at the same time, to control it. My child’s life is not my life. My experiences are not the same experiences as my kid. They are not me. I am not them. What affects me so strongly might affect them completely differently. Or maybe they will feel the same. Regardless, I need to do my best to remain neutral.

One example just happened last week when my 6 year old son was at soccer practice. He was intensely playing a practice game in which he perceived the coaches were being unfair and changing the rules. He ripped off his jersey, literally climbed a fence, and was crying that he quit the team and he would never go back again. Moms were watching my 6 year old have this tantrum and I could feel (and hear) the judgment coming down on me and my kid. It made me feel ashamed, judged, and embarrassed. I knew that all I could do was sit with my son and let him feel his feelings. There would be nothing I could say or do to make it any better. My anxiety was through the roof. I breathed. My son calmed down and noticed the team had moved on from the unfair game and it was now a kids against coaches game. He seemed interested. I suggested he put his cleats back on that he had kicked off and he go back out there and help his team. He did. Now, this was a proud parenting moment for me because I didn’t allow my anxiety to interfere with what my child needed: space and time to cry. I didn’t allow the judging parent reaction to change how I handled this 6 year old’s disappointment. He needed to feel the disappointment, the anger, the unfairness. Then he was able to get back in. I gave him what he needed and I didn’t stand in his way by telling him not to cry or to “suck it up” because his reaction was making me feel uncomfortable. He was entitled to his feelings. He had them and then he was able to get back out there and finish practice.

In situations like these, I’m always looking for tools to be a better parent. I recently listened to this great podcast on Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations that I want to share with you. Oprah had a conversation with Dr. Shafali Tsabary entitled “Conscious Parenting Can Change The World.” Definitely check out Dr. Shafali’s book “The Conscious Parent”  if you are able to get some reading in. I find that being a mom makes it tough to sit down and read a book. I rarely have time to read, but I am in the car all the time, so I love listening to podcasts. It’s a really interesting, introspective listen. It has definitely helped me to be more in touch with figuring out what kind of parent I continue to strive to be.

Here is Opra's Podcast with Dr. Tsabary or listen to the podcast


Additionally, If you would like to read of of Dr. Tsabary's amazing books check out the links below.  It helps us support this blog.