I spent the day in an all-day workshop with Dawn Menken exploring topics from her latest book, Raising Parents, Raising Kids. It was time well spent and gave me much food for thought! Perhaps the big take away was that to be effective parents we must first know ourselves very well. Our own unfinished business, shadows, and unexamined parts of self will bleed into our parenting styles if unknown to us. Alternatively, if we do our own work to know ourselves and heal our wounds, we stand a much better chance of parenting from a place of wholeness, strength and love.
Of course this does not mean we won’t screw up at times, parenting is hard work! As Dawn says, parenting is a calling. Whether you have kids or not, we are all parents in this world. We all have a responsibility to the children of our planet. Also, we must learn to connect and use the divine parent within each of us. Through our own contemplative practices, we must connect with the essence beyond self, beyond ego and beyond our earthly life, and learn in times of stress and challenge to trust what is. This can be very hard because we are all habituated to want to fix problems. To act, do and say whatever we must to make things better.
One of the exercises I did in the group connected me to a special place in nature. During the visualization, I felt a renewed faith in nature and all it has to teach us about life. No matter how challenging our parenting at times may be, nature whispers in our ear to quietly just be. Sit, breath, experience, and know that all of life is impermanent. Seasons come and go, birth and death occur, and through it all we learn the meaning of life.