Parenting as a Spiritual Practice

I wrote the title of this blog entry last year at this time, saved the draft, and never came back to it…until now. It was originally inspired by last year’s annual Life Rocks! Radical Unschooling Conference, and now here I am at another one! So I figured it was time to share some of my thoughts on parenting as a practice.

The thing is, I haven’t yet met anyone who thinks they are a terrific parent. It’s such a tough job, though incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Tough because it keeps changing all the time, as you and your children change and grow. Tough because, even in the most loving families, there’s that element of kids wanting to find their boundaries, and then push on them. Tough because, face it, it’s a lot of work taking care of another human, and being responsible for their safety and well-being.

So, like anything in life that is challenging and yet worthwhile, we practice. Ideally, we are open to learning from our children, to confront our own assumptions. This quote from Abraham-Hicks says it all: “Parents often think that they are here to guide the little ones. When – in reality – the little ones come forth with clarity to guide you.”

Being with your children – especially when you’re open and honest and ignore the temptation to go all “because I said so!” – is such an amazing opportunity for spiritual growth. They will point right at your dark spaces, your hidden corners where you may fear to tread, and say “hey, what’s up with that?”

Particularly when they are very young, kids have just come from the spirit realm, and are close to their Divine source. They will not only point out when things don’t make sense, calling it as they see it, but will also treat you with love and tenderness when you need it most.

Are you a parent? Well then, I assert that nurturing your relationship with your kids, no matter their age, is a key aspect of your spiritual path. It will bring you much learning, much joy and laughter as well as tears. Our kids are not a product that we produce, or an inconvenience to be “educated” and then ushered off to live separate lives. They are part of us, and yet unique individuals. They are our family.

Treat your children with respect, acknowledge (and apologize) when you make mistakes, and above all, keep trying. Parenting is a practice that will never be finished or wrapped up in a neat little package. Like all the best things in life, it is a learning process that enables us to grow as a person, to give and receive love, and to put our innate creativity and compassion to use. Keep practicing!

Tell me what you think!