PARENTING AS A PATHWAY FOR GROWTH
“Parenting is a path of maturation and growth if we dare to learn more and teach less.”
-Naomi Aldort, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves
The path of parenthood has been, thus far, one of great reward, triumph and many challenges. I have had to muster incredible courage at times to walk a path that is different than what I have lived as a child. It has been a journey of reclaiming inner wisdom and trust in myself.
As a mother of four daughters, my parenthood journey has unfolded and evolved over the years and continues to as I grow in my many experiences as a human being. Like life, I find that in the CP, (Conscious Parenting, Connection Parenting or Compassionate Parenting) schools of thought there is room to shift and grow. These all have a different name to highlight a style or pedagogy of parenting but what is the same about them is love, empathy and respect for the individual and seeing the inherent goodness in the child and in the self. All of which create healthy relationships, which draw people into one another to foster thriving connections. These ways of parenting feel alive, organic and wild-heartedly human. We don’t get to a certain point in life where our learning and knowing is all complete. It’s ongoing. That’s the beauty. Life is ripe with opportunities to learn, stretch, grow, get messy, make mistakes, and then blossom. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. And so too, is the path of parenting.
I remember one particular instance (of many) where I was called to grow myself up along side one of my children in, what was for me, a powerful way. My daughter, Kaya, 3 years old at the time, began tantruming when faced with struggles, frustrations and heartaches common to young ones.
During one particular tantrum when these episodes were a fairly new occurrence, I remember feeling almost struck by the force of her emotional expression. I felt as if my eyes were wide circles portraying shock and I was blinking to catch up with the moment. Kaya was kicking and screaming about her hurt, releasing the energy of what seemed like a pent up volcano. And I was there blinking and gulping back my own tears, which were a surprise to me. These were mostly unnoticed by her as I sat with her holding space and gently saying things like “I won’t let you kick me,” and “I’ll keep you and me safe.” “You’re feeling so angry that your sister doesn’t want to share her toy right now.” Trying my best to guess her feelings and needs and give a voice to them. While at other times it was enough to just sit close by in loving silence.
After about 10 minutes of this, which at that time felt like forever, her crying quieted. Her body relaxed. She rolled over and looked at me and said. “I feel better now. I love you, Mom.” And hopped off the bed, walked past me and was off to play.
I sat there still feeling rocked and wondering about my own internal reaction to what was taking place outside of me. Luckily we were at home when this tantrum happened and I had some time to reflect on this.
Sitting through that tantrum brought up some of my own childhood wounds with such intensity. As my daughter’s foot made contact with me during her flailing and kicking, my unconscious feelings of being harmed or victimized as a young one came up to the surface in a flash. Listening to her wails brought up blocked tears of my younger self that wanted expression.
It’s said that no one escapes childhood unscathed. We all have these hurts, big or small, that show up as we parent. There have been many more opportunities for me to raise myself along side of my children. This learning can be messy. In our home, the pillars that have held steadfast along the way have been ones of deep love, and care for these little humans. Our ground rules in our family are based on love, respect for self and one another, empathy, kindness and compassion. Everyday we get to practice and play out the microcosm of the world we want to create. And, like the world within and without, we have our darker days filled with struggle or challenge. My husband and I feel, and sometimes see, our reactions to behaviors that bring up our own past hurts and our yearning for healing.
I now have learned the more I slow down my reactions and give myself time to reflect before opening my mouth, I usually have the opportunity to grow and heal in some way. And, as I often say, act in right relation with my heart.
- Jamie Hawk (author)