Wednesday 19 June 2019

When it comes to parenting, the best advice is your own

When it comes to parenting you should follow your gut instinct
When it comes to parenting you should follow your gut instinct
Sinead Moriarty

Sinead Moriarty

A new book that is apparently going to 'revolutionise' parenting is coming our way. Straight from the 'New York Times' best-seller list, 'The Conscious Parent' is going to transform parents' lives when it is published on this side of the pond next week.

Throw your 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother' book away and get rid of 'Secrets of the Baby Whisperer' too - the only book we will really need to read now is 'The Conscious Parent'. Oprah has already devoted two shows to it and none other than the Dalai Lama wrote the preface.

This is no ordinary book by a mother wishing to share her knowledge, this is a book that will change the way we think, behave and parent in one go.

And the key to it all is . . . consciousness. Seriously? I'm so sick and tired of hearing about consciousness. Every time you open a newspaper or magazine or turn on the radio, someone is harping on about consciousness.

We had the "conscious uncoupling" of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin last year, which really just meant they were separating.

I looked up conscious in the dictionary to see if I was missing some deeper meaning. Nope, it still means 'awake, aware of one's surroundings'.

If that's all it takes to be a wonderful parent, then I'm sorted. I'm awake and I'm aware that I'm in my office typing this column.

Sadly, it's not nearly as simple as that. The author of the book, Dr Shefali Tsabary, has a lot more to say about the role of consciousness in the life of a parent.

According to Tsabary, conscious parenting means getting rid of the old style of parenting when children obeyed their mother and fathers. She says that we, the parents, should no longer be in charge. It is the children who will raise the parents by helping their parents to reach spiritual enlightenment, (yes, I'm confused too).

Tsabary insists our children are born to help us transform internally. "When you parent, it's crucial you realise you aren't raising a 'mini-me', but a spirit throbbing with its own signature."

Well then, how do we raise our children? How do we guide them? How do we help them make good decisions?

Tsabary says that parents have to parent 'with' their children not 'for' their children.

To achieve this successfully we need to let go of the past. She tells us to ignore the advice of grandparents and forget about our own childhood and the baggage that comes with it.

To be fair, some of what she's saying does make sense, it would just be a lot easier to understand if it wasn't so heavily shrouded in psychology-speak.

She correctly points out that our past can be a hindrance and we should try not to pass our insecurities or frustrations onto our children. You often see parents at sporting events roaring at their children to do better.

Parents who may have not fulfilled their own potential or are living vicariously through their children can do damage. There is a thin line between being supportive and being obsessive.

Extensive research was carried out to find out what children, teenagers and even professional athletes really wanted their parents to say after a match.

What was the one thing that they wanted to hear? Surprisingly, it wasn't: "You played brilliantly", "You were the best" or "You're so talented".

What all of them wanted to hear was: "I love to watch you play". It was as simple as that.

Children don't need to feel the pressure of their parents' expectations on their shoulders. They need to grow up and be who they were born to be. But parents do need to guide them.

The responsibility of not messing up our children drives so many of us to frantically look for advice. Perhaps too much so, as I recently found out.

Last week, my 10-year-old found me reading a parenting book 'How to Behave so your Children will too'. His eyes grew wide. "Why are you reading this?" he asked.

"Because I want to be a better parent."

He smacked his forehead in frustration. "Oh God, is this where you're getting all these crazy ideas about no TV during the week? I'm taking it away and hiding it."

To be honest, I was relieved. Parenting books leave me feeling disheartened.

A quick search for parenting books on Amazon.co.uk will give you 87,506 results.

No wonder parents these days are tearing their hair out with all this conflicting advice.

Perhaps we should just go with the best advice of all - our own gut instinct.

Irish Independent

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