We may be over-informed as parents. Parenting advice is at our fingertips, and we have allowed our access to information to uproot a matter of the heart and cram it into the head. We’ve come to a time where we’ve distanced ourselves so far from the heart that the act of loving and guiding a child requires a so called “expert” voice. Parenting has been over-intellectualized.
We all look for advice in uncertain times, and of course it is helpful to seek guidance and share in community, but in our external search we must hold close to the heart. A cynic by nature, I bring immense skepticism to any outside advice that does not sit with the ease of a comfortable blanket.
In strict adherence to a philosophy there is an acceptance of a way foreign from not only our own knowing but also the uniqueness of our children, selves, and families. Really, we can find information to support almost any choices we make. In some ways, following a strict philosophy releases us from doing the work of finding our own inner wisdom. We follow an “expert.” Following strict methods may also release us from some of the personal responsibility when we inevitably feel we’ve made a mistake; we were just following the script.
Additionally, placing all trust in someone else’s advice allows us to limit the intimacy and personal connection that can be unconsciously intimidating with parenthood because we have blanket responses that block our real reactions and triggers; those automatic reflexes are there to be examined as part of the growth process that is motherhood. Many parenting experts suggest we should stuff our reactions and “deliver lines”. While lines may be effective parenting tools in some ways, we are not encouraging the parent to examine the source of the struggle which is a missed opportunity for authentic growth. “Why did that bother me? Why did I respond that way? What do I need to heal in order to see the purity of this child?” When the parent grows in the experience of parenting they come to a place of authentic clarity, and this is a most beautiful state to approach a child: genuine and connected.
Be weary of a parenting philosophy that claims can diminish conflict by advising acting in a particular way. If action does not arise from a place of authentic love, connectedness, and compassion there is a continuation of life in conflict for in this efforted “right action” righteousness does not exist. Through inner truth action arises in authentic love. To “act” motherly, to “act” selflessly is living torture, but when action arises from authentic alignment with love there is great freedom, great joy. The process of getting to that place of love is personal growth and part of the richness of parenting. We deny parents this process therefore rob them of the full experience.
I cafeteria spiritual parent (CSP) which means I pick pieces of advice that feel appropriate for my family after I sit with and feel its alignment with my highest integrity. The challenge in CSP is not finding information; the challenge is doing the work in mining center (aka breathing and meditation for me, but you should “do you”) and being in alignment enough to be able to recognize when advice resonates with my highest frequency. Any outside guidance or parenting philosophy must resonates in harmony with my silent knowing, and it is my job to access the place of silent knowing.
How do I know when I’m getting it right? I feel it. How do I know when I’m getting it wrong? I feel it.
A woman with a blossomed heart holds the ability to make prime decisions, to distinguish between instinct and neuroses, and to follow the truth of her inner alignment. An awakened heart does not need rules. She may need guidance. She may need ideas. She may need help, but ultimately she needs to access her heart. In love, all else unfolds: compassion, connection, joy, and wisdom.
I’m not aiming to minimize motherhood. Quite the opposite, becoming a parent is a time of tremendous growth, and big transformations are never “easy”. The transformation into motherhood is everything: grueling relentless exhausting overwhelming important amazing joyful and miraculous, but it’s not meant to be of the mind. Motherhood is meant to bring us to the heart. We gather intelligence with our minds but we must act in wisdom of our hearts.
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I am inspired by my son’s preschool teachers, Mr. Rogers, Erickson’s theory, Reggio, Dr. Spock, my own mother, and my kids as a source of joy and growth.