Have you ever heard of conscious parenting? It is much bigger in the US than it is in Australia and the UK. I had never given the topic much attention, but last week I heard it talked about in four different parenting circles, so I decided do my research aka put ‘conscious parenting’ into Google and I liked what I found. Here’s my take on it….
As mums, we are often so busy running from activity to activity – off to work, off to school, off to soccer or ballet. It is a never-ending juggle of activities and time just seems to evaporate. At the end of the day, we stumble into bed – exhausted from a day of juggling work, school, kids, housework etc. It is mostly exhausting and generally the aim is to get through the big days we are having.
Do you actually know why you sit at the dinner table and insist your child finishes every last bit of dinner? Do you know why you get cross with your kids for not going to bed on time? Why do you expect your child to do as they are told every time?
At some point in the parenting journey, the questions come up about what is behind our discipline choices, what drives us to teach our children certain values and why have we chosen to be hard on some behaviours and not others. We start to think about our own choices and the impact they are having on the lives of our children.
Right now, there are 1 in 5 children with a mental illness. In the UK, 1 in 10 kids over the age of 8 classify themselves as unhappy and in the US there are more children seeing a psychologist than ever before. What has changed? This is a whole new generation to parent and never before have we seen such a rapid change in technology and pace of visual materials.
How has our parenting changed so much in the past 50 years? What sort of generation are we creating? When do we have a chance to think about the values we want to instill in our children or the role model we want to be? When do we get to look at the big picture of parenting?
These days will end. In the not too distant future, our children will be big enough to live on their own and not need us as much in their lives. The time we have to help them develop into confident, resilient adults is so short. Even scarier, kids form their capacity for empathy, develop a love of learning and develop a sense of the world before their 5th birthday. That doesn’t give us long to form these habits and develop their inner selves.
Conscious parenting is a relatively new buzz word in the parenting world and it really means a turning from being a parent who unconsciously plods through the days to being a parent who makes conscious decisions on how they want to be a parent and what they want their children to have at the beginning of their adult journey.
One of my big beliefs is that children should play outside. I consciously believe this will help their imagination, sense of freedom, independence, creativity, team work, level of fitness, capacity to move on uneven ground and appreciation for nature – all important for my values I want to impart on my children. I generally send my children outside for these reason. I have to admit that I do occasionally send the kids outside because they are going crazy in the house and I want them to go outside and this is probably unconscious parenting! My conscious choice resonates with the type of parenting style I have chosen. I choose not to helicopter but be close enough so my children are safe. I want my children to learn through taking risks and making decisions as part of that experience.
Ultimately I want my children to have choices to be who they want to be. I want them to be resilient and have self-confidence. I want them to have the education they need to be the best person they can be and I want them to know how to love. There are other values in there, but that is the big picture I have for my children.
To get my children to this point, I need to set a big picture goal. It is almost like setting a strategic plan at work. It is thinking beyond the day and choosing some realistic goals that align with your style of parenting (and your partners ofcourse!) to help your kids have the take away values you want them to have.
To be a conscious parent is to think about the big picture of parenting and act on it.
What is your big picture of parenting?
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About Anna Partridge
Anna Partridge is a passionate educator, mother of three young children and founder of parenting and education blog, BombardedMum. She also runs parenting workshops about ‘Raising Confident and Resilient Kids’ and works with mums to bring back their Mummy Mojo and find their ‘big picture’ of parenting. Through her blog, she is building a community of like-minded mothers who share the inspiration and challenges of raising the next generation. To work with Anna, contact her here.