Last week I was invited to attend a Conscious Parenting seminar at JustKidding’s new branch at Salam Store, Wafi Mall. The event, which was hosted by Nicki Anderson, an occupational therapist specialising in child and family mental health, aimed to give parents a crash course on the new parenting approach, which is rooted in the work of Dr. Shefali Tsabary and her famous book The Conscious Parent.
The seminar began with a short intro from Nicki about what it is to be a ‘conscious parent’. In simple terms, it’s all about how to make decisions about how to raise your children based on individual situations, rather than knee-jerk reactions and the ghosts of your past.
The theory intrigued me because in my short time as a parent I’ve come to the startling realisation that whether you were raised in a home that put the fun in dysfunction or a Brady-Bunch-style family, when you have kids you will do things like or despite the way you grew up… unless you aim to be a conscious parent.
I’m a classic example of this because as one of seven (yes, seven!) children, I had a noisy and chaotic childhood. Our house was disorganised and messy and my parents were often exhausted to the point that they couldn’t remember our names (yes, seriously). The point is, as a result of my background I crave order and rules and I can be very unbending in the way I like things to be done. According to Nicki, down the line I run the risk of putting my anxieties onto my child and stifling her with my dominant sense of routine.
Another cornerstone of conscious parenting is the idea that many of us try to vicariously live through our children. I shook my head at this. I would never, ever be one of those awful people… then I considered all those wistful deliberations I’ve had about how lovely it will be when she’s a champion show jumper, accomplished pianist or skilled ballet dancer… High expectations indeed, and firmly rooted in anxieties from my childhood about not reaching my goals.
“Conscious parenting means we no longer look at our children as an extension of who we are, because when we do that, we unleash all our emotional baggage onto them.” – Dr Shefali Tsabary.
And it’s that realisation that you know it’s time to commit to conscious parenting. Fortunately it isn’t as scary as it sounds. It just requires taking stock and being, well, conscious of all the decisions you make when it comes to your children. For a nudge in the right direction Nicki holds experimental workshops where you’ll be introduced to the concept and guided through a number of effective techniques.
Nicki Anderson has over a decade of experience working in a clinical setting using therapeutic play, counselling and family therapy. She runs her own practice, Journey To Wholeness. For more information contact Nicki at email@example.com.