I’ve been thinking a lot about that word evolution lately. I looked up the definition on the dictionary app on my phone and it defines evolution as any process of formation, growth or development.
After over a decade of being a mother I can say, without hesitation, that the single most impactful experience of my life, the area of my life that has produced the most growth and development, is parenting.
My personal evolution, that is my commitment to consistently grow and develop into a more conscious person, has been fueled by my life as a parent. Being a mom has encouraged me, and sometimes forced me, to look thoughtfully at how I live my life, what I am modeling, how I am being, and what I am valuing. And it gives me ample opportunity to practice being the most awakened version of myself every single day.
Why? Because it’s really hard to be a conscious parent. Yes, it calls on me to be more patient and compassionate than I have ever been. It requires me to be organized and thoughtful and discerning. It asks me to look to the future but still stay very, very present. It can consume me with anxiety and regret, while also filling my life with joy and gratitude. Some days I have never felt more tired and some days I have never felt more alive. Being a mom has been the gateway to my most significant growth points and has given me the opportunity to expand who I am capable of being.
I guess that’s why I gravitate to parenting thought leaders like the one I interview on the podcast for this week’s episode. Dr. Laura Markham has Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University and has worked as a parenting coach with thousands of parents across the English-speaking world.
She’s the author of the books Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting and Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How To Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life, which is the one that forms the basis of today’s conversation.
Through her books and website, Ahaparenting.com, she offers innumerable tactical tips and strategies for growing more peaceful families. But here’s the part of her work that really floats my boat: what lies underneath her solutions and actionable tips is the goal to inspire parents to do the inside work of staying centered, aware and grounded so that they can raise their kids consciously.
In fact, as you’ll hear from our discussion, a cornerstone of Dr. Laura’s ethos is that at the root of every healthy and cohesive parent/child relationship is connection. Connection is the secret sauce behind resolving every conflict, handling every misstep, and solving every family dilemma. It all starts with connection.
- Our sibling relationships—or relationships with close childhood friends or cousins, if you are raising a single child—form the basis for how we learn to become an effective human being. These relationships teach us how to be in relationships. So, it’s going to be messy and it’s not going to turn out a lot of the time. But knowing that childhood is the training ground, and it’s supposed to be messy, can help you relate to conflict with less anxiety, more clarity and more centeredness.
- Parenting is mostly an inside job. So much of our past dictates how we respond in the moment with our children, especially in high stress situations, like sibling conflict. We all come with a framework, or as I’ve come to see it, an emotional blueprint, that influences how we see and react to what’s happening around us. When we can slow down our reactions to what’s happening and begin to ask where they are coming from or what might be getting triggered, we can do the work to first parent ourselves before we leap on our children to parent them. The key is to see that we all have internal wiring that tints our point of view and to find the time in our own lives to see how we are wired and how this impacts the way we think and behave. If you have listened to my episode in Season Two about my daily centering practice, you’ll know that setting aside time every day to think about my life and how I am living has served me tremendously in my commitment to living consciously.
- Dr. Laura suggests cultivating the habit of doing nothing and staying silent once we have caught ourselves in a state of anger or frustration. She suggests we stop, drop and breathe and recommend that we don’t do anything until we have restored a sense of calm within. The breath can be an amazing anchoring tool for this. Three deep breaths can literally turn a moment around.
- We’re going to mess up, get angry, say the wrong thing and blow our top sometimes. These moments provide us with the opportunity to model repairing with our children and to show ourselves some compassion. We start by admitting to ourselves and to whoever we blew up on that we messed up and that we’re committed to doing better next time. And then we look for ways to do better next time. We take some time to see what led us to lose our center or what circumstance caused things to go sideways, and then we take action to correct or support those moments and areas better so next time things are better.
- We also talked about preventative maintenance, and more specifically how to create rituals and routines that regularly reconnect you with your child so the connection stays strong. But what we didn’t get to touch on is how important preventative maintenance is for us parents. And by that I mean, what are the ways we can schedule connection with ourselves so that we can maintain a sense of groundedness and awareness throughout the day? Again, think about how having a daily centering practice could give you the support you need to be more calm and connected.
SHARE & SUBSCRIBE
A big thanks to Dr. Laura Markham for being today’s guest. I hope you seek her out to learn more about her philosophy. It’s such good stuff.
By the way, you might also like these blogs/episodes:
Until next time…