What is the best parenting advice you've ever received?
Listen. Listen to him (but listen deeper than the words he uses). Listen to myself (and work to be aware of where my words and actions and reactions are coming from). Only by quieting what I think I know or think I hear and really listening deeper can I ever hope to meet both our needs in a way that respects each of us and our individual needs. It means slowing down. It means assuming I don't really know anything. It means not formulating my own response while he is talking, but really tuning in with the desire to understand this person.
What is the worst parenting advice you've ever received?
"He needs to know who is in charge." I interpreted that how many parents do - "I need to be in control." But what I see now is that while he does very much need to know I have it handled, and needs to trust me to meet his needs and care for us and keep things grounded and stable, that is very different from control. Finding that sweet spot between guidance and steadiness and someone he can trust, and respect, relationship, and trust for him is a daily practice.
If you could give just one piece of information to a parent, what would it be?
You don't know jack. ;) And as soon as you think you do, Life will up the ante on you. Cultivate the "beginner's mind" and be willing to always be taught or surprised, because you will be anyway.
What would you like your children to look back and remember about your parenting style?
I hope my son remembers how imperfect I am and sees and understands the love required to practice a constant putting aside of own's one ego and control to learn how to give and receive love better. Of everything I hope I'm doing right, I really have no guarantee how it will serve him in his own future, so I simply hope he learns that the point is a willingness to be open to what Life challenges him to learn.
What is the biggest challenge parents face these days?
The same as years past: our own willingness to learn how to love another individual for who they are and not who we want them to be. We can see this with a face of "internet dangers" or a costume of "sexuality" but it all comes down to the same thing - every experience in our lives together will stretch us to set aside our own reactions and connect deeply with the person in front of us in order to come together and seek the resolution or solution to Life's experiences.
What do you do personally to stay grounded and centered?
I practice Digging Deep. I meditate. I go for walks or to yoga. I listen to podcasts. I circle with others who are opening their hearts to awareness. I breathe. I take naps. I read. I observe and observe and observe. The more I can step back and observe the more I can step in and respond.
How do you approach interacting with families who make different parenting choices?
This has been an evolution for me. I use to avoid them, and surround myself with nearly identical families. And this was necessary for a time. But more and more I'm finding the desire to let go of the labels and the judgments and the assumptions, and work to meet people where they are. It goes back to that idea that I really don't know anything about anything. The longer I parent the humbler I become and the more I can meet myself and my own family and others with loving kindness and acceptance. And this has shown me to lead to the most wonderful connections in the most unforeseen ways.
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