Becoming a parent changes us in the most profound and irrevocable ways, and it is often our children who motivate and inspire us to grow into our best selves. Through everyday interactions and ordinary moments, we have the opportunity to create a meaningful connection with our children and nurture a deep sense of resilience, tolerance and self-acceptance in them. But first we need to better understand ourselves, says Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D., a mother and author of “The Conscious Parent” and “Out of Control, Why Disciplining Your Child Doesn’t Work…And What Will.” The international speaker, best known as “Dr. Shefali,” says our children mirror our forgotten selves and it is through our own emotional understanding and development that we can become more effective parents. The New York-based clinical psychologist will be coming to Long Beach in early December for a three-day workshop entitled “Deconstructing Parenthood: The Conscious Way.”
What is the essence of being a conscious parent?
It’s really about learning to tune into our children’s needs and who they are, while examining our own emotions, beliefs, values and assumptions. When we allow ourselves to look within to better understand what’s triggering our reaction, we become much more grounded and accept our children and our situation as they are. When we become aware of our own unresolved needs and unmet expectations, we set our children free.
How has your research and work on this topic influenced your relationship with your own 12-year-old daughter?
It definitely doesn’t give me a free pass. This is an ongoing and constant work for me as a mom, too. I make mistakes, but I try to be mindful of my emotions and reactions to situations. One of the hardest things for me personally is letting go of the urge to jump in to protect my daughter from all failure. Life is filled with emotional turmoil, and our kids need to learn to handle these setbacks in stride. Whether it’s getting a C on a test or being rejected by a friend, we have to allow our children to work their way through difficult situations. This is how you build true character.
What concerns you most about the state of childhood today?
The tremendous focus on achievement. Our children need to know that they are being seen and that they are valued for who they are, for their essence and not for their gold medals, soccer trophies or perfect report cards. Children need to feel worthy just as they are. They need to enjoy their childhood without this intense pressure to achieve.
What would you like all parents to know?
That we need to work on our own wholeness. Once we learn to be more present, to listen without judging, lecturing, labeling or critiquing, we begin to transform from conflict with our children to authentic connection with them. And it’s important to remember that becoming a conscious parent is not a set of techniques to learn, but rather a journey – a lifelong process.
For more information on the Deconstructing Parenthood workshop Dec. 4-6 in Long Beach, visit drshefali.com/deconstructing-parenthood-workshop. We are offering 10 discounted tickets for the conference. Pay either $350 for all three days or $300 for one day. The first 10 people to email Elena Epstein at Elena.Epstein@laparent.com will receive the tickets!