“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
The following is taken from The Conscious Parenting Notebook.
Before I had children, I attended a 10-Day Buddhist Meditation Retreat. Before participants could begin, we had a to sign a contract stating that we would commit to following all of the rules, which included following a strict waking, eating and meditation schedule; residing in monastic-style dorms; keeping a vow of silence; not writing, reading or using media of any kind and staying for the entire 10 day period. I was able to accept, if not enjoy, all of these rules, except the one that forbade writing. I knew that many thoughts would come to me throughout those 10 days and I knew that without recording them, they would be lost forever. I didn’t want to forget, so, clandestinely, I wrote and am glad that I still have those lessons and memories today.
I recently applied a retreat mentality to my parenting. My parents were coming to stay for a week and my interactions with my then three-year-old daughter had become a bit less than loving and empathetic. So I decided to take drastic action. I called for a self-imposed “Peace Week,” to focus on my parenting and work to improve my relationship with my daughter. My rules were as follows:
- No Sugar (outside of honey in my tea)
- Limited Computer Screen Time to 3 Times a Day (When I was not with my children)
- Limited Speech (I wanted to impose a no-talking rule, but found that to be too difficult)
- An Attempt at Conscious Awareness of My Own Moods and Feelings
- An Attempt at Conscious Kindness and Empathy in Responding to my Children at All Times
The limited sugar and screen time came out of my realization that when I was getting overwhelmed with parenting, I tended to seek out comfort or escape through sugar or email. Instead I used these urges as a reminder to check in with my feelings and reconnect with my children.
The limited speech came from my awareness of my tendency to lecture my daughter at a level above her age and maturity when she did something I had asked her not to do, and I thought that silence or at least a pause in my initial reaction would be an improvement.
The conscious awareness of my own moods and reminder to act with kindness and empathy to my children came from the fact that I knew that my moods greatly impacted how I treated my children and I wanted to work on being more responsive to them and the situation rather than reacting based on my mood.
Throughout the week, I kept a journal and each evening, I would write down the things I did well, the things that I could improve and insights I had gained. It was a lot of work and I failed and faltered a bit, but through reflection on those times, as well as the positive ones, I learned a lot. And most importantly, by the end of the week, I had improved my relationship with my daughter and gained a lot of new knowledge in the process.
Thanks for Reading!
What about you? Do you think you might benefit from your own unique PEACE WEEK? Do you have questions about how to start? I’d love to help. Or do you have other Conscious Parenting ideas that help bring you back into balance when you find yourself parenting unconsciously? If so, i’d love to hear them!
Sharon, Author, The Conscious Parenting Notebook