If you want to be opened up to your true character, parenting is the job you are looking for. When you parent, you fall in love with an ever-changing person you created and sometimes feel you don't know those children at all. But did you know parenting is a spiritual practice that involves cultivating a deeper connection with oneself and your child?
**Parenthood is a clumsy yet majestic dance in the flames.**
Raising children uncovers aspects of a parent's nature that might remain latent. A cooing baby is likely to reveal unfathomable depths of love within you, while a defiant teenager can potentially expose equal measures of anger. Parents can go from being proud to being humbled the next moment. Parenting is a sure way to acquire knowledge about oneself. When such knowledge is approached with the intention of personal growth, it has the potential to purify, awaken, and perfect a parent's character as reliably as any self-development program.
Young children are exemplars of present moment awareness. They are not concerned with what happened last year nor what will occur in the future. They could care less about the news, social media, inflation, or politics. Their primary awareness is centered on getting the most out of each moment.
To optimally enhance personal and spiritual development via parenting, using each experience as fuel for growth is helpful. The following suggestions, applicable across various ages and stages, facilitate self-inquiry and improvement through the parenting process. Feel free to personalize, adapt, or edit as appropriate for your vision. Once you have established individualized intentions, review them at the start of each day, listing any relevant applications.
Live in the Present Moment
Young children are exemplars of present-moment awareness. They are not concerned with what happened last year or what will occur. They could care less about news, social media, inflation, or politics. Their primary awareness is centered on getting the most out of each moment. Perhaps the great teacher Jesus was referring to a child's present-moment consciousness when he said, "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). The joy, peace, and happiness which constitute collective goals of humanity can only be accessed via the present moment.
You can integrate more present-moment awareness into your life by remaining fully engaged in conversations, thinking about what you are doing while doing it, and refraining from predictions about how your child's current temperament may play out in future scenarios. Stay grounded in what is happening now. Experience each moment without ruminating on challenge points or clinging to triumphs.
Cultivate Compassion for Your Child and Yourself
Compassion is the feeling that arises when you are confronted with, and seek to eradicate, another's suffering. Researchers suggest that compassion lights up brain areas responsible for empathy and pleasure. Parenting engenders a natural sense of compassion. As the child suffers, so does the parent. Having experienced compassion through parenting, you are in an optimal position to consciously expand that care to wider community circles. By relieving suffering, you develop personal compassion and teach your children to do the same.
The more challenging step for most parents is applying compassion to themselves. Parents are works in progress and sometimes make mistakes, speak harshly, miss a performance, or act selfishly. Offer compassion, be gentle, and remember that nobody is perfect. Learn from your missteps and then let them go.
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