Partnership Parenting: Changing the Parent-Child Relationship Paradigm

I believe that the relationship we have with our children is one of the most important relationships we’ll ever have. It’s an active relationship, one that requires being intentional with it, giving it focus, and infusing it with love and attention so that we can honor it as we’ve been divinely chosen to.




I believe that we were divinely chosen to live in this time and place. We were gifted the opportunity to partner with unique souls that come into our lives at this moment, especially those unique souls who were divinely chosen to be our children.

And because of this, I believe that the relationship we have with our children is one of the most important relationships we’ll ever have. It’s an active relationship, one that requires being intentional with it, giving it focus, and infusing it with love and attention so that we can honor it as we’ve been divinely chosen to.

You don't need direction. You know which way to go.

I don't wanna hold you back. I just wanna watch you grow.

You're the one who taught me: you don't have to look behind.

Oh yes, sweet darlin, so glad you are a child of mine.

I can't remember the first time I heard Carole King sing these words. My parents loved her music and her records were often playing in the background on weekends and evenings along with other singer/songwriters of the 60s and 70s. But, this song found its way back into my life when I was pregnant with my son. I was anxious, worried, and scared. I had suffered a complicated miscarriage before my pregnancy with him and my perfectionist, over-achieving ego did not appreciate feeling out of control.

During my pregnancy with my son, I was on a perpetual rollercoaster of joy and despair. I was really happy to be pregnant again. But, the shadows of the miscarriage experience cut deep and I was afraid to get too excited in case something happened to the baby.

My therapist at the time suggested I practice a visualization technique when I was struggling. He taught me to visualize wrapping the baby up in a bubble to protect it so that I could feel my deep feelings without fear that the hormones that stress releases would harm the growing fetus.

One day in the car this song came on the radio. I put my hand on my belly and started singing it to my unborn child. It became a ritual for me for the rest of the pregnancy and, then, one of the lullabies I sang to him and then, later, his brother at bedtime.

But, I’ll be honest, even with the song in my repertoire, I didn’t always practice what the words preached. Parenting is one of the hardest roles we encounter in this lifetime. The journey of parenting takes you to the highest mountains, where the hills are alive with bright, warm sun shining down on fields of butterflies and wildflowers.

And parenting has the power to take you to the deepest depths of dark oceans, filled with hungry predators. It brings feelings of uncertainty, fear, comparisonitis, guilt, shame.

When my boys were 4 and 1, I suffered a painful depression. I isolated myself. I went down a pit of despair and, eventually, experienced a full burnout.

During that time, I was not the parent I had envisioned I could or would be. Years later, with the wisdom that comes from hindsight, I realize that my depression was exacerbated by thinking that I had to protect my children at all cost. I had to do everything to keep them safe. To let them know they were loved. To teach how to fit into a world of societal norms and paradigms that would ask them to restrict and limit who they were really meant to be.

In trying to protect my children, I was really projecting my own issues of self-worth, of belonging, of lovability, my own fears of rejection and judgment, onto them.

I was holding them back. I wasn’t letting them - or myself - grow.

As I started healing myself, I realized even more deeply, the power of Carole King’s words (technically, also Gerry Goffin’s words since she credits him with the lyrics). My children were born divine souls. They were brought into my life to partner with me on this journey through our human experiences.

I started to look at my role through a different lens: one based on curiosity and observation, one based on partnership, on mutual respect, of conscious connection.

It felt like a thousand pound weight had been lifted.

It is not our job as parents to play a hierarchical role looking down on these souls and telling them what to do and how to be and trying to mould them into the vision that we have for them or that we think the world has for them. The heavy weight that was lifted for me from the hierarchical paradigm of parenting was a generational pattern. One my parents projected onto me and their parents projected onto them and going back for centuries.

We get to cut the cord now, change paradigms.

As Carole King sings to her child: “you don't need direction, you know which way to go.” Our souls are born knowing what we are here to learn and do and who we are meant to be. And so our job as conscious parents isn't to direct but to provide guidance and counsel. To create a safe space for our children to explore who they are and who they want to be. To lift them up.

As a parenting coach, I work with my clients - as I did with my own family - to transform struggles into snuggles. We explore what partnership parenting looks like for them. The beauty of partnership parenting is that there is no cookie-cutter approach. You get to co-create the life you want to live together based on shared values and honoring the unique character and strengths of each family member.

When we’re clear about what we want, need, and desire, we can stop “shoulding” on ourselves and each other and start making aligned decisions together that lead to a more playful, happy, peaceful life.

The first step is to sit down and write a family mission statement. Businesses create mission statements on day one. It’s important to know your values, who you want to work with, and why you want to do this work as it helps ground you when setting goals, making decisions, and taking actions outside your comfort zone. But we often don’t take the time to create a family mission statement.

A family mission statement is an opportunity to intentionally voice and write down individual and shared needs, wants, and desires. And it serves as a guiding light during turbulent times to refocus and reconnect with what’s important to everyone, with your unapologetic truth.

Creating a family mission statement starts with asking questions like:

  • What makes your family unique?

  • What does your family like to do?

  • What goals does your family have?

  • What characteristics do you look for in friends?

Looking at the parent-child relationship through the lens of partnership and creating a family mission statement has allowed my family to create more joy, more pleasure, more consciousness, and more peace in our lives. Instead of fighting over whose turn it is to wash the dishes, we all gather in the kitchen as an opportunity to work together and connect before everyone goes their separate ways after mealtime.

When it was time for my older son to pick a middle school, instead of choosing for him, we sat down together and reviewed the options, then gave him the time and space to process the information and make the decision using his own strategy.

Being in partnership with our children actually makes being an adult feel easier because we get to see the world through the innocent, curious, observant eyes of children. We get to see each decision as an experiment. There’s less pressure on the outcome because it’s about the experience and the lessons learned.

To paraphrase the last verse of the song, these times we’re living in may not always feel like the best, but together, we can make the times to come better than the rest. And, ultimately, isn’t that what we want for our children and our family?




 

This article is part of our RELATE special edition of SOULACY. To read more articles focused on the relationships with have in our lives and businesses, head to soulacymagazine.com/shop to buy your copy today.



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