As a parenting coach, there’s one question that I dread hearing.
In fact, it often used to make me freeze up and, when I first started Parenting For Wholeness, made me question if I was even equipped to help parents.
Because, unlike most other parenting coaches, I don’t know how to answer those questions.
Questions that starts with "What do I do/say when..."
But over the years, I've come to realize that the reason the changes in the families I work with are so profound is BECAUSE I don't answer those questions for them.
And I don’t answer them because I fervently believe that ONLY THE PARENTS have access to the information needed to come up with the proper answers to those questions when it comes to their own families, to their own children.
I may have some insights, knowledge and experience I can share with them.
But mostly, I see my work as to guide them in accessing their own answers, their inner guidance, and help them clear the obstacles to them parenting in alignment with their values and desires for their families.
THE POWER OF PRESENCE
I know, from my own experience in my family, as well as from working intensively with hundreds of families through my Clean Parenting™ program, that PRESENCE and CONNECTION TO OUR INNER GUIDANCE are the most powerful qualities that we can cultivate as parents.
By being present and parenting from our inner guidance, we can access a quality of relationship with our children and a quality of flow and aliveness in our lives with them that few parents in our disconnected culture even realize is possible.
Most moms come to me thinking they need to build new skills in order to become the parents they long to be.
But, even though I do teach some skills, the bulk of the work I do with them is designed help them become connected to themselves, grounded, present.
Present to their children: their children’s inner experience, essence and uniqueness. I help them build the practice of truly seeing their children through their every interaction with them.
Present to themselves: to their values, so that they have clarity on what to prioritize and focus on. To their feelings, their needs and their own experience, so they have access to their own guidance, and make sure they’re not ignoring themselves in the process of meeting their children’s needs. To their conditioning, so they can become aware of obstacles to parenting in alignment with their values, and hopefully address them so they’re freed of them.
Present to what’s actually happening in the moment, instead of being in their heads, caught up in some narrative that in no way supports them in dealing with the situation effectively.
When parents come to me seeking specific solutions to their parenting problems, I rarely provide them. In part, because I don’t believe it’s what best serves them in the long run.
But mostly because no one else can know what’s right for them, for their children, for their family.
When trying to make a decision, our mind can only consider a limited number of factors at a time. But our inner guidance is usually taking ALL of the pertinent factors into account.
So I cannot tell parents the right way for them to respond to an issue in their family.
What I can do, what truly serves them, is help them find their own answers. And help them figure out their path or approach to finding their own answers, so that they quickly stop needing any support, from me, others, or even books.
My wish for all parents, my intention when I work with them, and the focus of my writing and programs, is that they have access to their own guidance.
Because once they do, they can find the exact words, approach and solutions that are attuned to the unique needs of each situation they encounter.
And this doesn’t happen through having studied and memorized sentences to use, techniques or tools, but by being fully present and aware, attuned to the moment, so they’re inspired to whatever’s called for in each unique moment.
I do teach them some basic principles to parents, such as developing realistic expectations, learning to trust children, being on the same team and addressing the underlying cause of their behaviors and providing support instead of just controlling behaviors.
And many parents do need some help in learning to be clear benevolent leaders to their children, so that they can provide the guidance and sense of security children need, in a way that fully respects them and honors their spirits.
But the bulk of my work with them it to simply support them in accessing their guidance and in parenting in alignment with their values, by supporting them in creating those new pathways, until they become their new default, and clearing the conditioning that keeping them stuck in reactivity and old patterns of reactions.
Through that work, they become confident that they’re capable of easily handling what comes their way, so then instead of spinning out in their heads when a challenging situation occurs, they’re able to stay present, and from this place, have access to exactly what’s called for in that very moment.
One thing that can help us be present with our children is to focus on being authentic.
Many parents want guidance in how to respond to children, want to be given specific words and tactics, when what's needed is so much easier!
What is by far the most effective approach with children is to just be authentic.
Children, like all humans, respond to authenticity, because it is alive.
It is what is unarguably true.
You can HEAR and FEEL authenticity.
It creates goodwill.
It taps into children’s innate desire to please.
It awakens what is alive in them.
Being authentic with children is generally much more effective than any other approach because we’re CONNECTING WITH THEM when we’re authentic.
We’re truly engaging with them instead of talking AT them, are in relationship with them, which is much more likely to activate their innate desire to please us.
I like to provide this analogy to parents I work with:
Think of a situation in which someone is trying to CONVINCE you to do something.
How does it feel? How do you react?
Now think of a situation in which someone would like you to do something for them, and they are honestly and authentically expressing their reason for it.
How does THAT feel? How do you respond to that?
When we’re authentic, we’re taking responsibility for our feelings. It can be challenging at times because it forces us to become aware of our possibly uncomfortable experience, be honest about it, and be vulnerable.
For some of us, who haven't grown up being supported in being who we are, it forces us to get to know ourselves, which can be quite an intensive journey. But such a rewarding one! ♥
One practical tip, if you want to work on being more authentic with your children, is instead of trying to come up with effective tactics to get your children to do what you want them to, you can simply authentically describe the situation, as you would to another adult.
For example, you might tell your child: “I’m feeling uncomfortable watching you use this sharp knife, because the last time you did you got distracted and almost cut yourself.”
Or "It makes me feel so happy when I wake up to a neat house. Can we please come up with a strategy to have it picked up before we go to bed?"
Or "I'm really having a hard day today. Would you mind helping your sister out with her snack?"
I personally love this approach so much because it leaves behind the hard work of intellectually figuring things out and guides me to connect to myself, to what's alive in me, where all I have to do is translate into words what's going on inside of me.
One caveat to being authentic with children is that it’s important to make sure that what's being shared with children is age appropriate and presented in a responsible way. And that it comes from groundedness and clarity, not reactivity.
Children can handle our range of feelings, as long as we express them responsibly and take responsibility for them instead of blaming others. It's actually important that they do see us experience negative feelings and see how we handle them.
Otherwise how will they learn how to behave when they have strong feelings?
Also, us naming what’s actually going on and which they’re likely picking up on and feeling, helps them relax.
It makes their world make sense, instead of living in the uncomfortable discord of being told everything’s okay or seeing mom pretending to be happy when they clearly feel it’s not the case.
This is actually an unfortunate and subtle form of gaslighting, which is pretty damaging to one’s sense of self and ability to function well in the world.
Here’s a story that helps illustrate all this:
In one of my Clean Parenting groups, I shared that when my girls were little, for one day in my cycle, I’d feel like I turned into a ‘possessed evil bitch’ (excuse the language.) I would be incredibly irritable and at times told my girls things I deeply regretted the next day. So I told them to just ignore anything that I said on my PMS days because I couldn’t be trusted on those days.
Inspired by this story, Kim decided to do the following:
"The cloud" descended on me yesterday (as in "hello darkness my old friend") and I made it beautifully through without the girls even guessing that I was feeling "blue". This morning, however, the heaviness was much greater and whereas in the past I would be irritable and impatient with them because I just wanted to crawl in a hole and disappear, instead I shared how I was feeling with them. I decided I needed to be more honest with them. I told them I was feeling sad and it was not because of anything they have done. I explained that sometimes I feel sad and need a good cry (which gave a wonderful opportunity to talk about how good it feels to have a good cry). I then told them that my sadness made me feel irritated and impatient and that I wondered if they would mind working a little harder today on finding win-win situations with one another and I would try really hard, too, to not be impatient or snap at them. We all did marvelously with one another! There was only one incident in a store but we worked through it in minutes.
They "get" it! And have even used it back to me! "Mom, I'm feeling sad today. Can you hold me?" “Mom, I'm really mad at you for not letting us have candy".
Through working on being present and practicing being authentic with our children, we can not only developing a rich, joyful, connected and harmonious life with them, but we can also grow in our own ability to be present and to live in closer harmony to our values in every area of our lives.
It turns out what serves us with our children serves us in every other area of our lives, and vice versa!
What a beautiful win-win, and an organic, joyful way to live!
For a sense of what I work on with parents to achieve this place of presence, request my FREE report which describes 4 key principles that we focus on implementing:
The Almost Magical Formula For Surprising Ease and Harmony in Your Family While Fully Honoring Your Children’s Spirits.
Here's what Amanda Lambert from Australia, who just completed the program, wrote about her experience of it:
"I am SO grateful that I did this course. This program is not just another parenting technique course, but is an in-depth exploration of how you see yourself and your children, and how you understand your role as a parent. My family life is so much more peaceful after completing Clean Parenting! My children are much more content and happy, and when they are having a meltdown, or are whining or upset, I know what I need to do to help them back to being calm and centered. And it works!!! As a result, we have a more trusting relationship. I feel much more confident in my parenting. I have changed from just wanting to be respectful, gentle, and effective to being a lot closer to living those daily.
I really felt that Eliane personally invested in seeing me grasp and live what she was teaching. I also loved the fact that she encouraged each of us in the course to figure out how the practices would look in our lives – there were no standard solutions – but each person was encouraged to figure out how to make life work in their particular family and context. The individualised, specific feedback to our issues and problems was very powerful, as was the participation in an open, honest group. I felt truly mentored and guided through applying the principles of parenting to my life – able to work on the nitty gritty, day-in, day-out interactions."
If you too are interested in working with me, email me at Eliane@ParentingForWholeness.com.
I'd love to work with you! ♥