I said I would never have kids.
I said that I didn’t want them.
Not because I thought I’d be a bad parent.
Not because I don’t love children.
I simply didn’t understand why anyone would want to bring a totally helpless and vulnerable child into the mess we call modern human society.
From an early age, I felt that this so-called “civilization” we live in was ugly, corrupt, unjust and more than a little “insane.”
Many times as I grew up, and well into my early adult life, I thought that perhaps I was the insane one, because everyone else seemed so happy to accept things the way they were. No one seemed to notice what I noticed. No one felt as I felt—that the world was not A Fit Place to bring a child into.
However, as I have watched the unfolding circus we call global politics and mankind’s self- and ecological destruction, I know that I wasn’t wrong.
And, now I am a (single) parent. My son is five years old.
Every aspiring conscious parent wants to be the parent they wish they’d had.
If there was a lack of love and affection when you were growing up, then you will strive to make sure your children do not want for love and affection.
If there were no clear boundaries for you as a child, then you will strive to give your children very clear boundaries.
If you were abused as a child, you will be hypersensitive to the possibility of abuse.
And so on.
However, here’s the crunch.
If you haven’t healed your issues from childhood, then:
You won’t know how to give love and affection to your children if you did not receive it as a child.
You won’t be able to teach your children about strong boundaries if you don’t have them yourself.
Your abuse trauma will be inherited by your children in the same way that you inherited your parents’, because ancestral trauma is handed down generation after generation until healed properly (as the science of Epigenetics has proven beyond doubt—see this excellent documentary video to understand how and for insight into some of the implications for you right now).
And so on.
In other words, whatever our conscious minds think, and whatever decisions we make consciously, the subconscious mind—that which was programmed and conditioned by and in childhood—will take over and replicate what it knows.
This is why you have heard of people who leave one abusive relationship only to find themselves in another, again and again.
And of course, we tend to overcompensate when it comes to our children.
And our overcompensating creates even more problems. In a way, too much love is worse than not enough. Certainly, it’s not much better.
Here is what I’ve learnt about parenting. It’s simple, as everything in this life should be.
Children need only two things:
Love and Discipline.
Yeah, they don’t need cartoons. Surprise!
They don’t need lots of toys. Especially the plastic and electronic ones.
The don’t need junk food, sweets or fizzy drinks.
They don’t need video games or phones or screens.
They really don’t need much at all, do they!
But they really need and want your attention (that’s love!). And for you to be in your power—assertive and centered and happy and healthy. That’s the discipline part.
As a therapist specializing in trauma, I have found that the single most widespread and deeply impacting trauma I have come across (after seven years and many thousands of client sessions) is that of parental absence. Physically, emotionally or energetically absent parents might as well tell the child directly, “I don’t love you; you’re not worthy of my love; there is something wrong with you.”
That’s the message that we give our children when we are not present with them.
And more than anything, that child simply doesn’t feel safe, because for many hundreds of thousands of years, throughout our evolution, the safety of a human child depended upon the extent to which the adults were paying attention.
No adults paying attention? Oh look, there’s a hungry wolf, or a sudden cold spell, or a hostile tribe.
So they need to feel that they are being watched, heard and taken care of; they need love in order to feel safe.
And children need discipline, so that they know that you are in control. If you’re not in control, they don’t feel safe. And you know what happens then? They try to take control. And we all know what a two-year-old trying to take control looks like, right?
So ultimately, conscious parenting is simple.
It requires a conscious parent.
Yes, you have to be conscious, aware, awake.
And that means working on your stuff. Because if we’re really honest with ourselves, most of us are so deeply asleep, so un-conscious, due to hundreds of years of programming by church, school and media, multiplied by our own lack of loving attention in childhood and the absence of any really powerful role-models.
The other important thing to understand about parenting (this is going to lose me some readers, but it’s too important for me not to mention):
It takes a village to raise a child.
No matter what you do, if you are raising a child in a “nuclear family” (parents and kids living separately from extended family, community, tribe) then you will offload all your issues onto your child.
It. Is. Inevitable.
We’ve lived, grown and evolved for almost all our evolution in villages, tribes and communities. We are essentially pack animals.
You cannot eliminate dysfunction in an unnatural, dysfunctional environment within a dysfunctional society.
So, stretch out. Bring people into your home. Open the doors. Open your arms! The more people that your child comes into contact with, the more they will learn and the more experience they will be able to draw on as they shape their values, skills and personality.
Ultimately, conscious parenting is ridiculously simple.
You’ve got the parent part down already if you’re a parent. Check.
All that’s left is to be more fully conscious with each passing day. The more conscious you become, the more you will be drawn toward community, because ultimately, “interdependence” is the nature of our reality.
There is no “perfect” parent. Just as there is no ultimate acquisition of consciousness.
All we have to do is commit ourselves—and not just for our children’s sake, either—to waking up.
We have to commit ourselves to becoming more conscious.
Children will both teach us how to be more conscious and present, and test us continually.
Because our children want more than anything to see us centered in all our divine, glorious, sovereign power.
And I feel that if we brought them into this world, then we owe it to them to be just that—divine, glorious, sovereign and powerful. So that they feel safe, but first and foremost, so that they see from our example how to live as human beings.
We haven’t been doing such a great job of that the last few thousand years.
I trust we are soon going to start getting it right.
As always, if you find this to be of value, please share! And if you have any questions or thoughts, please leave a comment! I always try to reply to all of them.
Author: Ben Ralston
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Author’s Own