“To be aware of a single shortcoming within oneself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in somebody else.” ~ Dalai Lama
I have always taken my children to see energy healers when they are in need of assistance.
I took my three-year-old son to the local osteopath. Nothing was particularly wrong with him, but he had had a challenging birth and as a new mom I just wanted to give him the best.
And I had heard this osteopath was the best.
Now, three-year-old boys aren’t exactly known for their patience and ability to sit still, and my son was an anxious, squirmy boy who liked a lot of closeness and attention. But in order to receive the session, my son needed to lie on the massage table.
So, I sat on the massage table with him with his feet in my lap, but I purposely looked the other way. I stared out the window, keeping my attention light, however, it was hard not to think about my son lying there being worked on by the Osteopath and I kept wondering how he was feeling.
Every time I thought about him, he yelled out “Mom” and became a little antsy. But when I looked out the window, just lightly meditating, he was calm and received his treatment patiently.
For his next osteopathy appointment his father accompanied.
And he did the same—he sat on the massage table with our son’s feet in his lap but he didn’t intentionally make an effort to keep his thoughts and attention off our son.
During the session, my son’s father felt his leg do a big release. At the end of the session the osteopath said that she was actually working on my partner through our son. Their energy was inter-connected.
This small anecdote has become a guiding force in my parenting.
We all have energy.
And it is powerful.
And we are responsible for how we direct that energy.
Last week, I took care of my friend’s one-year-old for the day. She was only supposed to be with me for a few hours but she was so happy and settled, I called my friend and said the baby could stay the whole day. The baby remained happy and settled until about 10 minutes before my friend came to pick her up. My friend said she hadn’t even thought about her baby all day until she was on her way to get her.
We are all interconnected and how we choose to direct our energy and attention has repercussions.
When my daughter was weaning from breastfeeding I used this lesson. I realized I needed to keep my energy separate from hers while she expressed her disappointment and grief about not getting breast milk.
If I had worried, fretted and stressed about my guilt and frustration regarding weaning, I would have just been adding insult to injury. Instead, my daughter had a right to her grief and sadness and my choice at the time was to hold her and comfort her but keep my energy to myself—by meditating, and keeping my mind quiet and my energy calm while she had her reaction.
I have now done this hundreds of times. I have kept my mind quiet, my energy calm and made sure not to impose my views or opinions onto my children’s experiences during tantrums, fear, disappointment and accomplishment. My kids get to have their own experiences and all the feelings that go with it. It is not really any of my business.
What they are going through is not a reflection of me. Their successes don’t make me a good person and their failures don’t make me a bad person.
Their energy is theirs, and mine is mine.
Of course, I am responsible for their physical well-being. I ensure healthy food, clean clothes, structure, nice friends and fun adventures. And of course, sometimes (or if you ask them, more than sometimes) I lose my temper, boss them around and force my view onto situations.
The point is I have the ability to keep my energy separate from them and there are many times I choose to use that option. Learning how to keep our energy separate from the people we love isn’t easy. It often goes against everything we understand about love.
If we love someone, we worry about them and do everything in our power to make sure they have the best? Right? Maybe, maybe not.
Think about what it feels like when someone is worrying about us. When we are making choices that are our choices and others are judging them, talking to other people about them and thinking they know better, how does that feel in our bodies? It doesn’t feel good at all. It feels heavy, makes me doubt who I am and makes my path forward feel thick and congested with obstacles.
We want our children’s paths to be light and free. For them to feel like the world is their oyster and there are a myriad of choices that will make them happy and satisfied. We can do this by separating our energy from theirs and letting them have the space they need to forge their own path.
Is this easy? For some people it really isn’t. We love our children so much and our need for them to be safe can be overpowering. But there are a lot of things that aren’t easy and we do them anyway because it is what is best for everyone. And of course, we don’t always do things the way we want to.
As parents we need to be gentle with ourselves and be willing to embrace an experimental attitude of wins and fails. But knowing that keeping our energy separate is a parenting option really widens our choices about how to react to our children.
We can try to remember that offering love and unconditional acceptance is always a must in parenting but feeling responsible, judgmental and over-reactive to our children is optional.
We are so lucky to get to do this human journey with the beautiful souls who are our children—let’s make the most if it.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Klaus Balzano/Flickr