dad playing with daughterOur earliest days as parents are a whirlwind of diapers, late night feedings, and moments of panic as we see their delicate fingers find their way to something dangerous. As they learn to walk, we can feel it in our bodies when they fall or hurt themselves—that moment of tension and panic in every muscle. It’s easy to think of our children as an extension of ourselves. We see them and love them so ferociously that we can’t help but want what’s best for them. That sense of tension and panic sticks with us, but now we worry about who they’re friends with and if they’re making good choices.

Without realizing it, we end up forcing our cultural and personal biases on them without considering what works for them—a recipe for friction. In this article, we’ll explore conscious parenting, an alternative approach that helps parents and children grow together instead of apart.

What is Conscious Parenting?

The traditional parent-child relationship is simple: the parent is the authority and the child is the subject; the child’s needs come second to the parent’s demands. The parent knows what’s best, so the parent makes all the decisions, and if the child doesn’t comply, there are consequences and punishments. Conscious parenting smooths that playing field out—encouraging parents to adopt a style of servant-leadership that sees parents and children as peers.

In conscious parenting, parents re-examine their own beliefs regarding how life should be lived. As parents, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you’ve broken your children or failed as a parent because they aren’t living according to your script. Conscious parenting teaches us to let go of that script, deconstruct it, and recognize that our children are independent creatures—there to be discovered rather than fixed or forced into some predetermined shape.

Conscious parenting emphasizes:

  • Acceptance
  • Healthy boundaries
  • Communication
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Self-regulation
  • Active listening

What Are the Benefits of Conscious Parenting?

Conscious parenting promotes authenticity, improved communication, and emotional awareness. It teaches parents and children to explore their wants, frustrations, and goals. Talking about these things in a safe, non-judgmental way allows for a collaborative relationship. Parents practicing conscious parenting report:

  • Improved communication skills
  • Calmer, more loving households
  • Increased closeness & affection
  • Confidence in their own abilities

Conscious Parenting in Action

Consider the following scenario: you’re at home with your child, and they’re playing quietly in the next room over. It’s a rare moment of peace, and after taking care of some bills or catching up on work, you go to check on them and find that they’ve covered themselves (and the walls!) in crayon. As a parent, your immediate response might be frustration and horror. What’s going through your mind?:

  • “This is going to be so much work to clean!”
  • “What are people going to think when they see this?!”
  • “My partner is going to be so mad when they get home!”

All of these thoughts are valid. You might even be mad at yourself for leaving your child alone with the crayons. That frustration bubbles up and suddenly you’re yelling or punishing—but imagine that same scenario from your child’s perspective—it’s art and it’s beautiful. There are lots of rules, and in the moment, it’s easy to forget them. Most rules, they don’t even understand because no one’s explained them to them.

Conscious parenting teaches us to talk before we explode. Ask questions, understand our kids, and offer alternatives and new solutions that work for both parent and child. Instead of squashing your child’s artistic spark, maybe it’s time for a really big whiteboard.

Learn More

Conscious parenting isn’t right for everyone—but for many parents it’s a tool and parenting style that can help promote a calm, loving household. If you’re interested in learning more about conscious parenting, reach out to me to schedule a free 15 minute consultation for parent therapy.