I finished The Conscious Parent, by Dr. Shefali Tsabary, this past Sunday. While I'm still letting a lot of it process, I've already made lots of tweaks to how I talk to, and discipline my kids. I found it to be so timely to raising kids in the 21st century, and I will not hesitate to recommend it to other parents. I liked it almost as much as my two favorite parenting books Simplicity Parenting, and Buddhism for Mothers.
The main premise of the book is that as parents we let our ego control how we react to our kids. In other words, the more we project ourselves onto our kids, the more problems we will have. Kids need the opportunity to grow, take risks (healthy risks!) and try new things without carrying around our junk in their subconscious. This might sound really obvious, but I really believe it's something that all parents do, most of the time without realizing it.
Dr. Tsabary uses anecdotes of her patients, and sometimes her own parenting challenges, to teach parents what it looks like when you are parenting from a place of ego, instead of a place of consciousness. One of the biggest takeaways from the book is the importance of questioning your motives. Why are you expecting a certain behavior or result? Why do you feel anger/disappointment/sadness/etc when your children don't live up to your expectations? Where are these expectations coming from?
Many parents and children suffer from relationships that aren't as healthy as they could be. The sad fact is that the reason is usually pain from our own pasts that are creeping out through our words and actions. The act of stepping back and examining ourselves, can do wonders for our children. Simply put, work on yourself, and your relationships will blossom. This. is. huge. How much more peaceful would the world be if we worked on healing ourselves instead of defecting or compartmentalizing our pain? The author believes that if we don't address our inner wounds, we will give them to our children and the cycle will continue for generations. It's easy to think this way in regards to outright abuse, but we don't often think about regular old pain being passed down to our kids. It's a revolutionary idea. (To me at least!)
The other main thing Dr. Tsabary stresses though out the book is being present. I think this is the mantra of our time. With so much stimulation from tv, computers and phones, it's a wonder we even talk at all. Our kids need us to be present and engaged, and I do fear that the next generation is going to have legitimate problems in regards to relationships with other human beings. Even if you aren't a screen addict, we are all busy. After finishing the book, I recommitted my days to my kids. It's easy to fill our days with lots of activities, but the fact is, we need stillness every day. So instead of running from place to place, grocery shopping, kids activities, hell, even Starbucks, I am making a concerted effort to slow our roll and connect.
I could write a novel about this book, but you are better off reading the book yourself. It was a great read, albeit a little dry at times. Sometimes it was a tad repetitive, but I think that was out of necessity. The points Dr. Shefali Tsabary are strong ones, and we need to be beaten over the head with them.