Bottom line: it starts with us, not the kids. Here's why we can all learn a thing or two from this approach to parenting...
In the first episode of our brand new season of the HoneyKids Asia Growing Pains podcast, we spoke to Marissa Nasution – MTV VJ turned conscious parent. And wow, did we learn a lot. Here are our top ten takeaways when it comes to conscious parenting…
CONSCIOUS PARENTING: 10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. It’s about raising the parent rather than fixing the child
Marissa explained that conscious parenting is a modern-day philosophy and focuses on the parent first. So many approaches focus on how we can ‘fix’ our child’s behaviour, with the idea that our kids are the problem, rather than taking a step back to look at the bigger picture and our own attitudes and actions.
2. You don’t need to parent like your parents
So how do you parent consciously? Well, the first step is to revisit your own childhood and break free from generational, toxic parenting patterns from the past. You should make your own decisions rather than stick with these old patterns.
3. Learn from your own experiences and, most importantly, forgive
Before you pick up the phone to blame your parents for your toddler’s current unruly behaviour, take a step back. Conscious parenting is not about blaming and is all about forgiveness. You need to learn and understand why your parents used the parenting approaches they did and move on from this. You also need to cut your parents some slack because they too might have inherited generational norms handed down to them. They might not have known any different. Accepting this and forgiving past behaviours is crucial.
4. It’s about your kids’ desires and aspirations, not your own
We all can admit to having wishes and desires for our kids, but what’s driving this? In Asia, there’s a huge focus on ‘successful careers’ being defined as becoming a lawyer or a doctor, but what about if your kid is desperate to be a dancer? We need to be mindful of when a child is trying to fulfil parents’ unfulfilled wishes rather than their own.
5. Mindfulness is important – you need to be aware of your emotions
Marissa explains how mindfulness wasn’t even on her radar until she became a parent, and then she realised how important it was. “If I’m not happy, how can I portray being happy to my kids? We need to give value to all emotions – it’s ok to be sad and angry – you just need to know how to deal with these emotions and be able to put your name to these emotions.”
6. Me-time and self-care matter
You’ve heard it time and time again, but that safety video on the plane does have some sound advice: you need to look after your own life vest before helping the kids. AKA if you are not happy; how can you help your little ones be happy? Being in tune with yourself and seeking balance is important. Focus on quality time over quantity with your kids and be present during your time together.
7. Reframing situations can be crucial
Before launching into a tirade the next time your kid decides to have an almighty meltdown, try and breathe and take some time to think why this might be the case. Ok, we’ll admit that doing this in the heat of the moment is hard, but even taking the time post-meltdown to reflect, rather than just put it down to bad behaviour helps. It also means looking at your own actions and behaviours.
8. Treat children as little human beings both in terms of actions and language
We shouldn’t underestimate how in tune little people are with themselves. Children have different personalities and traits, and it’s for us to guide and be there for them, but not force them on the path that we think is best. Show that you value their opinion and insights through the language you use as well as your actions.
9. Children don’t belong to us – they belong with us.
A memorable quote that we think sums up a lot of this conversation? Children don’t belong to us – they belong with us.
10. And the best news of all… it’s never too late to start!
Is it too late now to say sorry? Nope, it’s never too late. Children need their parents at all ages, and it’s never too late to make these important changes. Parenting is such a journey, and you don’t know how each day will turn out. It can be frustrating one day and then joyful the next. It’s about making positive changes and admitting when you’re wrong if things don’t go to plan.
RESOURCES ON CONSCIOUS PARENTING
Want to find out more? Here’s where to start when it comes to additional resources on this parenting approach…
1. Growing Pains Podcast – Episode 1, Season 2
Get the full lowdown from our chat with Marissa about all things conscious parenting, as well as her thoughts on burnout and why it’s real in SG. She also gives us her take on that burning question: can mums really have it all?
2. The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children – Dr Shefali Tsabary
Dr Shefali is the go-to expert on conscious parenting and has a range of books on this topic. This book is a great intro to the concept and encourages parents to shed the layers of baggage they have inherited during their own life and are unconsciously heaping on their children. Don’t just take our word for it; Oprah described the book as ‘the most profound book on parenting I’ve ever read’.