Soul Supervision: Here's How To Parent With Soul
Children are sponges, and parent's stress levels can affect a child's very makeup - his or her risk of mood disorders, addiction, and even disorders like autism. Time to bid goodbye to stress, and try a more soulful route.
My mother often says to me that parents in our generation are much more stressed out than they or their parents were, despite having a lot more. I can’t deny that it is evident in our everyday lives – we try more, rush more, worry more, and on our own scale, fail more. Being a stay at home mom is indulgent, and being a working mom is selfish. No matter what kind of mom you are, you’re always wondering if you are doing enough, or doing it right.
In this mad rush to an arbitrary finish line, we arm our egos for battle, only to wonder at the end of it all – what we are fighting for? And when we believe that our ‘work’ as parents is done, be it a send-off to university, or marriage, we heave a sigh of relief, and settle down to finally live our own lives.
That’s certainly not a constructive way to spend the best part of your adult life. Thinking of our children as ‘projects’ or ‘goals’ deprives them, and us, of the necessary essence that is required for fulfilling parenting – the soul.
I read this quote in a brilliant book a couple of years ago (Care of the Soul, by Thomas Moore), and it opened up a whole new channel of thought for me – “Care of the soul means not taking sides when there is conflict at a deep level. It may be necessary to stretch the heart wide enough to embrace contradiction and paradox.”
When we think about embracing the contradictions of parenting as part of the process, suddenly, we are not fighting that hard. The baby who won’t sleep train, the toddler whose terrible twos last years, the teenager with the perpetual pout – it’s all part of the process. Parenting with soul then basically means not thinking about an end goal, but rather, embracing the inevitable chaos that is the experience of raising another human being with free will.
Here are 5 ways to adopt soulful parenting in your everyday life:
Punish intention, not action – Very few children are born mean. Often, kids behave in a certain way because they lack the tools to express themselves properly. Listen for what they were trying to achieve, before passing judgment.
Strive for awareness, not compliance – We all yell at our kids – even the most zen of parents lose their heads once in a while. Don’t beat yourself up about it. The end goal, though, is not getting them to do what you say because they are afraid of you, but because they understand why it’s the right thing to do.
Don’t sweat the small stuff – This is often much easier said than done, but a little perspective goes a long way. If your child is not potty trained by the time he or she is in middle school, then you have a problem. Anything before that is simply a development range.
Stop looking around – There is no surer way to build angst in your family dynamic than to compare yourselves with someone else. Someone will always be richer, smarter, will read better, or walk faster. Your job is to look at your own strengths (and your child’s), and nurture those, not someone else’s.
Acknowledge the soul of your own body – If you start thinking of your body as having a soul, you will automatically start treating it better. You will become more aware of what you put into it, how hard you push it, and how well you rest it. The best parents are parents who take care of themselves.
Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan is a mother of 2 (aged 5 and 8), founder of family travel company MomAboard.com, writer, yogi, dancer, and serial traveller. Kaamna believes life is to be lived, not endured, and to that end, she’s unrelenting in her quest to pursue her passions, and to help other people find theirs.