Welcome to Parenting the Soul. What is it about the parent-child relationship that stretches our limits like nothing else? I’m blessed with five beautiful souls—three sons and two daughters ranging, at the time of this writing, from ages 12 to 20. From an early age, they have been teaching me just how much I didn’t know. Over the past 20 years, they have revealed sides of me that I thought existed only in scary movies. They have seen everything about me even when I thought I was not showing them. Sometimes, it has felt as though they could hear the very thoughts inside my head. They have opened my heart to depths I never knew existed—and made me reevaluate everything I thought I knew before becoming a parent.
I didn’t come from a big family, and I never thought I’d have five children. I believe that my soul’s yearning guided me toward the unique kind of fulfillment that parenthood can bring. Still, in spite of this higher calling to parenthood, my body and mind were endlessly challenged during the early years of parenting. I was tired and overwhelmed with all the things I needed to do to care for my children, plus the long list of everything I thought I needed to teach them to give them a solid start on life. Though I’ve been on a spiritual path since I was a child, I wasn’t prepared for the discrepancy between what I learned in my spiritual classes and practices and the way I showed up in my day-to-day life with my children.
My kids have always fought a lot. Beyond the chaos of physical fighting, it was the way they pushed each other’s buttons emotionally that really got to me. I was at a loss. I had thought that if I did things correctly, my kids would always behave well. They’d be good, caring, thoughtful people. But instead they made me feel like everything was out of control. In an attempt to intervene, I found myself reacting in ways that I knew, objectively, weren’t right. Once I started yelling back or punishing, it didn’t take much to see how wound-up, uptight and stressed out I was.
Eventually, I was exhausted from not living up to my own expectations. I became profoundly aware that much of what I was trying as a mother not only didn’t work, but often backfired into an explosion of undesirable behavior from my children and, more so, from myself. I realized that if I wasn’t managing my own emotions, stress and expectations, it was pretty much guaranteed that my kids wouldn’t be able to manage theirs either.
So I began to seek a new perspective, and asked myself: What was my role as a parent really all about? What was I missing? Why was I so reactive and feeling out of control? What can I do differently?
I know I am not alone, and if you picked up this book, you, too, share the desire to transform your parenting experience into a more meaningful and joyful one. My hope for this book is to address these questions and many more, and to acknowledge our multifaceted roles as parents of extraordinary, imperfect children.
I chose to call this book Parenting the Soul: Raising My Consciousness While Raising My Children because I believe our children play a significant role in our growth. I’ve come to see parenting as a transformational journey. Our children teach us as much as we teach them. Being a parent gives us the opportunity to let go of old patterns, heal childhood wounds and be more in touch with our own souls.
And I believe that regardless of how you got to be a parent—even if you weren’t expecting children or you didn’t give birth to them—your children are never accidents in your life, and they are yours for a reason.
I soon discovered that the quality of my relationship with my children depended on the quality of my relationship with myself. And that makes it sacred. I define sacred relationships as those that allow both people to transform into more conscious and healthy people.
My book isn’t intended to share information or tips with you just so that your kids behave better or listen to you more, but rather to help create the foundation of deep connection and joy that can exist in this miraculous relationship.
As I began to recognize what I wanted to change in myself as a woman and a parent, I realized I didn’t know where to start or what could replace these unwelcome habits and default reactions. This is the part of my journey that I share in this book—how to begin the deep self-inquiry that will allow you to recognize the behaviors you want to change, and then how to take steps toward those changes. I believe the way we show up as parents as well as the environment we create in our home not only affects our family life, but the entire world. What we are creating in our micro-cosmos influences the macro-cosmos. Wounded children grow up to be wounded adults who end up wounding other people. It’s our social responsibility to heal ourselves and build healthy relationships with our children. This means taking a serious look at our own level of self-care, one of the most crucial components of healthy parenting. We ignore self-care or diminish its importance at the risk of our entire family and ourselves. So many parents believe (and I did for a long time) that the more tasks and chaos we take on, the stronger we are. But now I know that real strength comes from being able to set healthy boundaries and not take on what doesn’t belong to us or doesn’t serve us.
The word “spiritual” in all its forms is used (perhaps overused) a lot these days and has different meanings for different people and situations. When I say “spirituality,” I mean consciousness, or searching inward and becoming aware of and taking responsibility for my emotion, choices and actions. And the building of this consciousness is the foundation of this book.
Not a Regular Parenting Book
So many times, as parents we are looking at other parents or reaching out to experts, looking for answers, solutions and tips on what to do with our children when we feel challenged by their behavior. And yes, there are a lot of great tips and tools out there, which I explored myself many times. But in this book my intention is to empower you. I don’t want to bring you a fish—I want to teach you how to fish. What I found that helped me the most in my own journey is learning through being present with my own experiences and learning how to notice, listen and ask questions, as I discover what works best for me as a parent and for my unique family.
Each family is unique, and there’s no one size-fits-all solution or way for each family or even for each of our children. Part of the self-discovery process is to begin to recognize and own your power, your intuition and inner wisdom.
In this book, I will guide you on how to be, so the how to do things, will come more naturally and easy.
As you go through the chapters, you will be collecting your own insights and awarenesses in what will become your own Higher Parenting Manual.
I am so grateful that you are joining me on this joyful quest to create strong and meaningful connections with our children so we can truly support them as a channel of love, compassion and self-awareness. Your commitment and courage will generate greater peace and harmony within your family and within your community and the world.