Parenting for most during this new normal looks something like this.
Wake up at 7 am, cook breakfast for the family, clean the house, maybe get some lunch cooked too, rush to get ready, set up online school for the kids, rush to get a shower in and sit down to work from home, break for lunch, clean up after, constant interruptions from the kids while you are trying to get your work done, sit with the kids for homework, set up the kids online classes along the way, try to finish up your own assignments, maybe squeeze a workout for yourself, get back to the kitchen to ensure dinner is prepared, Netflix for the kids, maybe some reading time, dinner time, bath time, bed time, and the sheer exhaustion by the time it’s all done! With an unhealthy dose or frustration, irritability and endless negotiation with the kids along the way.
When this sequence of events is on an endless repeat mode, we forget to be present with our children. We are constantly operating from the role of the parent who is trying to make sense of the chaos by being directive, organising, fixing, completing and trying to maintain a sense of order or structure in what can quickly turn into disorder. Parents are engaged in a loop of “doing” rather than “being”.
Directive activity-based attention is required to some extent, but needs to be supplemented with attention that is non-directive.
Conscious parenting means recognising that children need your attention. And yes, we are giving them attention, but not the kind of attention they need to feel secure, nurtured, understood and accepted.
What we are giving children is attention that is channeled through our role as parents. We are telling them what they should do, what they should not do, and how to do it. This kind of directive activity-based attention is required to some extent, but needs to be supplemented with attention that is non-directive.
It is non-directive attention that helps children to feel valued and loved. This kind of attention involves just being able to spend time together playing, observing, actively listening and being present with our children. It means creating an equal space in the relationship for children to express themselves without judgment or correction. It is through this kind of mindful presence that their sense of self worth, expression of their individuality and their ability to accept themselves as separate and equal beings develops.
We as parents need to be able to consciously step out of the role of parent and see our children as sovereign beings. The awareness that children are not our projects or the extension of our desires is necessary to be able to create a space in which parents and children relate to each other as equals.
It is within this space of conscious attention that children gain true inner worth and confidence and learn to be comfortable with who they truly are.