The Spiritual Side of Parenting

I didn’t anticipate this or purposefully lay any groundwork for any sort of spiritual growth, or any other growth in parenting. It just sort of happened. Parenting, for me, has been a challenge. And it was out of this challenge that I found an opportunity for growth. Becoming a parent was a game changer. It forced me to come face to face with some serious shortcomings. It forced me to reevaluate everything, who I was and what I wanted. In the end, it forced me to take stock and search out some sort of clarity. The clarity I wanted didn’t come easily, perhaps understandably so. After all, I had never “learned” parenting, never studied it, never practised it. I was lost and winging it. So, I started searching for answers, and searching for a better way.

Without any answers, I started asking some questions. I tried bringing some intention and purpose to what it was I was doing. It was a good start. In a curious sort of way, I allowed myself to ask questions like: “What should I do in this situation? What is the right thing to do? What is the goal here?” The answers did not reveal themselves so readily. These questions lead to other questions. It’s because I wanted more than just a piecemeal solution. I didn’t want to be erratic or to settle for running around putting out fires. I was looking for a framework, something more holistic. Spiritually speaking, I was looking for alignment, something that my head and heart could agree upon. And, that’s been the upside to all of this. All the questions I was asking of how I wanted to “be” with my son were really questions leading me to search out my own personal spiritual alignment.

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The bigger questions that came up were almost too big for me to handle. I almost gave up right there. This is what I found myself asking: “What does my child really need? Why? What is my purpose in this role? How do I really need to be? What do I want for my child? What do I want for the world?” The day-to-day of being a parent for me was inextricably linked to the bigger picture. Asking these bigger questions also had the affect of appealing to my bigger self. Cool. Unexpectedly, it started expanding the heart and the mind. The big picture makes clear what’s really important and what’s really an illusion. Think about it. How would you sincerely answer the question of what you wanted for the future of the world, for your child, and all the other children of the world. All of a sudden, things get real. I know that parenting is busy and hard enough as it is. But I couldn’t help myself. Looking into my child’s eyes, I felt the weight of the responsibility. It was a heady time, those first few years of being a parent. But, I can tell you, the answers to those big questions still inform my actions to this day.

I asked and I received. Yes, I believe I found what I was looking for. I think I was having a shower, or doing the dishes, or something equally mundane when it came to me. Or, maybe I was pulling my hair out after another failed bedtime. Who knows. But, the answers to my questions came at once, in a flash. It felt profound and important at the time. I can remember feeling full of awareness. Trying to explain it now seems a little funny. Funny too because the answers to my questions were surprisingly simple. The answers were obvious, humourously apparent even. So here it is. It turned out that answer to the great mystery, the answer to what I wanted to know was… the best. Ta-Da! I wanted the best for my son, for his future and for the future of the world, full-stop.

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Simple, but not so simple. After all, “the best” is a tall order. And then there is the question of what “best” even means. Well, the best that I felt in that moment was a big best. A bigger best than I had ever felt. I’ve always wanted to raise happy, capable, and contributing members of society. That is still true and still fits. But the “best” I felt in that moment had less to do with me, and what I wanted, and more to do with what was meant for my son. It had more to do with letting go and trusting. In a sense, it was a feeling of surrender. It felt like there was a bigger wisdom at play, or that there was a bigger wisdom that resided within my son, and I could trust it.

This meant that what my child needed more than anything was for me to embrace him and accept him for who he was, to empower him to be the truest version of himself that I could. That was my role as a leader. He needed most to be supported, not steered. He was going to be fine. He really was going to be fine. Actually, not only would he be fine, he would be great. This was indeed how he would be the best he could be. If I could trust this, have patience and love him for who he was, then…then I would be in alignment with this greater wisdom. Then I’d be doing my job. And, here is a nice bit of synergy that follows. If I could help him be his truest self, would this not then result in good things for the world. I don’t believe that anyone who has been empowered to be his truest self or who has discovered his truest self would give anything less than his best to this world. When we tap into that deep authenticity, magic happens, beautiful good magic.

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It made sense to me at the time, and still does. This was the answer, this is what I was looking for. But this way of looking at it flips things on it’s head. It’s hard to understand at first, but I’m convinced that if you really want the best for your child, this is the way to achieve it. It took a little while for it to sink in. I still fight the trusting and still fight against the wisdom. But, then I remind myself it’s not really about me. If it’s not about us, then what do we do then? How does one go about trusting, empowering, and essentially getting out of the way to allow the truth and wisdom within the child to emerge? How do we go about putting this into action? The central part to being a true leader in this regard is, and always will be, that we have to “be” that which we wish to teach, that which we wish to create. And then we need to be patient and trust the process. If we want our kids to be their best and truest selves, can we be striving for any less than our best and our truest? If we are to lead by example, how must we be? If we want our children to tap into and trust their inner wisdom, what must we do? The answers are self-evident. We cannot do anything else other than strive for our own truth, have patience and trust the process, if we wish this for our kids.

On a more practical note, let’s say I hope for my children to be authentic, happy, kind, strong, and fulfilled, what is my role? How am I to be? If I wish for children to be mind, body and soul healthy and whole, with no strings attached, what kind of work is it that I have cut out for myself? Again, this seems simple, or at least obvious. But somewhere, at some point, this lesson was lost. These self evident truths are not so evident or deeply understood.

As parents and leaders, it would be useful to reacquaint ourselves with ideas like this.

  • If we want happiness and kindness to be present in our children and in this world, we must create loving, kind, and uplifting homes.
  • If we want our kids to be strong we have to allow them to be strong and model strength.
  • If we want our kids to be authentic and confident in their truth, we have to value, accept and respect them for who they are. We can’t dominate and disparage. We have to embrace and empower.
  • If we want our kids to be successful and fulfilled, we need to trust them and their vision, not some idea of who we want them to be. Success is empty if it’s someone else’s success.
  • If we want peace,we have to have peaceful loving homes.

For some, this is a no-brainer. Wonderful. I’m glad it is. For others, you might be moved by what I’ve said, but are worried of letting go, I understand. You might be thinking that in order to be a good parent, you have to have more control, more influence over the direction and well being of your child. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is no better way to achieve purposeful direction and robust well-being in your child than what I’ve mentioned. When we trust and empower our kids to be the truest version of themselves it has multiplicative implications you almost couldn’t imagine. When a child is really allowed to be herself, that child grows to become the strongest, kindest, happiest, most fulfilled version of herself. There is nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of, no defensiveness or feelings of deficiency. There is nothing to compensate for, just wholeness. That’s the idea anyway. And for the parents, there is a sense of freedom that results. Less is more comes as a relief.

I don’t know if we’ll get there. I know that we’ll make mistakes along the way. But that’s what we’re aiming for.

To be continued…in part 2.

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