Who is parenting your child?

the king :)

Lately it has become even more apparent to me that parenting has less to do with what we say or do, but rather where we are coming from when we do.

The other day my son Lucas who sprained his ankle, remarked at how he liked “feeling like a king!” because we were all doing so much for him.

It made me think about how we have enforced a family ethic that we encourage our children to do what they can and help them primarily only with those things they truly need help with.  For example, my children make their own lunches, put their clothes away and navigate many age-appropriate household duties.   Yet, there are often ways that they still want to be ‘waited on’ such as asking us to get their drinking water, when we are in the middle of serving dinner or attending to baby. Generally we respond with some variation of No, but the meta-message they receive is profoundly different depending on what state of self-presence we are in.

If we are feeling protective, defensive, overwhelmed (fight/flight) or simply grumpy because we are not taking care of ourselves, we might respond from what I like to call, our inner Teenager (reactive/resistant) self,  implementing this boundary in an unloving way: (Thinking:  I can’t believe after all I do, they will not get up and get their own water!) Saying: “No I will not get you your water, you are capable of doing that.” However the words come out, our underlying irritation would communicate, “I don’t care about you,” “You are a burden,” or “You exasperate me.”   The goal of the boundary, to empower and equip our children, is lost.

On the other hand,  if when they ask us to bring their water, we are tuning in, taking care of ourselves and parenting from the Loving Adult or Inner Parent, we remember we are a guide.  We seek to communicate “Look how strong and capable you are to help yourself.”  Sometimes if it is convenient we may bring it, because we help each other out….but if we cannot and we are coming from a place of love and not self defense, we might say a number of things with much more lightness and no shaming:  “I can’t right now, honey” “Let’s all work together to get dinner ready”  “Oh now that is something you can do!” etc.

But it’s not about the words.  I certainly have said “the words” only to know that my children were getting the clear message underneath and responding to it. They are so much more attuned than those of us who have been shut down from years of ‘do as you’re told’ parenting.

And it’s not about the specific situation. I am using this example only to illuminate the concept. It applies to any parenting ‘technique’ or boundary we aim to implement in our parenting life.

Beyond words, situation and technique…. It is…. where are you coming from?

Love  (soft, curious,open heart) or Fear (defensive/self-protection/closed heart)?

Who’ is parenting your child?

An ‘Inner Teenager,’ the false adult that got you through life in survival mode,

or an ‘Inner Parent’ or Loving Adult self that is committed to nurturing and loving you and your child?

We all slip into that ‘teenager’ survival self. In the daily life of parenting that throws us out of balance constantly, we are simply more vulnerable to deferring back to that survival mode.

But in this spiritual practice of parenthood, we have the opportunity in every moment, to shift back into love and ask, “What would be truly loving for me? And my child?”  The more that we reach to our intuition and spiritual connection, the more clearly we find the path to being a Loving parent for ourselves and our children.

It truly helps to simplify parenting, if we focus less on the details and more on what state we are in when we are parenting.


6 comments to Who is parenting your child?

  • This is so brilliantly spelled out Sylvia. Lately I have slipped into the pattern and have been curious why I can’t move above my “teenage” self, I hear her, bold, unfriendly, growling voice come out of my mouth towards my 5 year old when he asks for the 4th snack of the afternoon (he is starving when he gets home from Kindergarten) and I have yet to sit and breathe during the precious moments I have while his younger brother is napping.
    Your post will ring in my ears as I speak to my son and I know I will be able to remind myself it isn’t his fault I have made his snack for him for the past 5 years…I need to move food and plates in an easier place for him and give him the power. It must feel so frustrating for him to constantly have to ask for food, especially when he is hungry. Thank you for your wise words, you always give me an opportunity to walk in a better direction.

  • Sylvia

    Thanks Carrie, I’m so glad it was helpful to you! It sounds like you already shifted into the Loving Parent that sees the issue more clearly :) Yes, it is so interesting to watch Sabriel model this self-sufficiency even at this young age. He goes to the refrigerator and pulls hard to open the door, then stands in the refrigerator and pulls the produce drawer open, grabbing whatever looks good, a cucumber, nectarine, etc.
    Having fruit,chopped veggies,cheese and nuts as a go to, on lower shelves, or drawers has always been helpful. My children still love me to make them a snack, but they know they can always help themselves if they are really hungry.
    Have fun finding what works for you all!

  • Dulce

    I love this and the way you put it! Thanks so much for inspiring me to be a better mother. I have a 23 month old who I find myself screaming to, when I am irritated and overwhelmed after work. I catch myself and redirect my attitude thinking “it’s not his fault that I am tired” but at times I just have lost it and I scream at him. Only to feel horribly 1 minute later and its a cycle…Am working on it and let me tell you that this post has opened my eyes and I will not allow my teenage self parent my child anymore when I am tired after a long day at work. Am so glad I found you.

  • Kimberly

    What an inspirational message Aunt Sylvia :) Thank you for sharing!

  • Sylvia

    Hi Dulce,
    I apologize for the delay in my response…have been on a series of vacations this summer. I am so glad you found the site too!! Being gentle with our children is so much easier when we are gentle with ourselves. Are you local to SoCal? You may appreciate participating in my Circles and/or mini-retreats that offer alot of support for mothers of small children :)

  • Sylvia

    Thank you Kimberly!!

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