Are You a Conscious Parent?
“Mommy, can you come outside and play with me?” your 5-year-old pleads from the other room. “Go and ask your dad,” you yell back, feverishly jamming the keyboard on your computer trying to meet a deadline. “I already did and he said to ask YOU,” he whines. “Well, mommy is reeeally busy right now, honey. Daddy is watching you right now, so ask him again, okay?” you say with controlled frustration, trying hard to stay focused on your task. A couple of minutes pass. “He says that you need to take me because he is busier than you right now…”
This “un-communication” (a term I coined which means words are being said, but nothing is really happening) continues for another few minutes until everyone is either crying or screaming. This is a perfect example of two parents unsuccessfully “co-parenting”.
In order for respect, harmony, and symmetry to exist in any healthy family dynamic, parents must consciously align in their job as co-parents. This is achieved when both parents collectively decide what specific roles they will play as co-parents, and then back each other up in these roles. Communication is the key in this process. So while dad may have been “busy” watching a basketball game on daddy duty, the fact is both parents agreed on a plan and one of them failed to honor it.
Statistics show that disagreement on how children should be raised is a key cause of marital problems, which ultimately leads to divorce. It seems like couples take the time to find out everything about their partner, except for their views on parenting styles.
What Kind of a Parent Are You?
There are four universally acknowledged parenting styles: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive, and Uninvolved.
As potential co-parents, it’s vital that couples talk about their family history and decide on what parenting style they see themselves prescribing to. As new parents, we usually start out with one style. As we evolve over time, we may begin to incorporate new styles into the mix.
Authoritarian Parenting, also coined “Strict Parenting,” is a style with typically demanding and unresponsive parents who take a “no nonsense” approach to raising their kids. Their attitude is basically “my way, or the highway.” There is very little room for open dialogue between parent and child, and they expect their little people to follow a strict set of rules and expectations. Spanking is a disciplinary action commonly used.
Authoritative Parenting is touted as the most effective and constructive parenting style for the average child. These parents are not difficult to spot. They provide a healthy balance of high expectation with support and understanding. The child’s environment is full of love, respect, and open communication. Children raised in these environments are typically not only loved by their parents, but also liked.
Permissive Parenting or Indulgent Parenting has very few behavioral expectations for children. These parents don’t like to upset their children, so they are usually responsive, but not demanding. They are also afraid of confrontation, so are inconsistent when it comes to setting rules for their kids. While children from these families are usually very loved and nurtured, the lack of structure ends up producing individuals with little self-discipline and self-control.
Neglectful Parenting or Uninvolved Parenting is thought to be the most harmful style of parenting. Unfortunately, these parents are completely derelict in their duty as a parent and more often than not, these children fall victim to emotional, physical and psychological danger. Any parent who recognizes that they are failing in their role to care for their children on the most basic level needs to seek help. The same can be said for friends or outsiders who suspect that a parent is potentially neglecting their children.
The fundamental motto for Conscious Parenting is: “know thy own self.” If two people want to come together to successfully co-parent, it’s important for each parent to reflect on their own childhood, decide on what parenting style they’d personally adopt, and then communicate these thoughts with each other.
Raising a child needs to be a very thought-out, conscious process— not something you just do on a whim. We’re talking about the life of a human being here. While parenting is not a perfect science and we all make mistakes, there is still a lot to be said about mindfully preparing.
Conscious parents understand the value of creating healthy boundaries between their personal relationship and their parental relationship with their children. They understand the value of nourishing and building their relationship as loving partners, independent of their children.
Parents who are working toward becoming conscious parents learn to cultivate healthy communication skills. They don’t leave anything up for assumptions. They avoid miscommunication by discussing their current parenting tasks with each other. When things aren’t working out, they regroup and find new ways to resolve conflicts.
They also respect one another, leading by example as they work as a team, and teaching their children that anything is possible in life with honesty, compassion, and kindness. Conscious parents are open and affectionate with one another and with their children. They encourage their children to take chances, and leave room for the growth that comes from making mistakes and being imperfect.
That, my friends, is what Conscious Parenting is all about.