Chapter 8, The Awakened Family by Dr Shefali Tsabary…

Myth # 5: A Good Parent Is a Loving One

“Love and fear cannot exist in the same moment.”

“It’s a myth that if we love our children enough, we’ll be able to give them what they need. Just because we love our children doesn’t mean we know how to be present with them, attuned to their inner world, and able to help them realize who they are. It certainly doesn’t mean we know how to navigate our own anxiety, control our reactivity, or harness our reason and objectivity so we can be of help to them.”

“Understanding the difference between our intention and how it’s being received by our children is an essential element of conscious parenting. Our children have little regard for our intentions, instead tuning in to how our interactions make them feel. It’s at the feeling level that dysfunction occurs. Only when we tune into our children at their feeling level, not our own, are we able to meet their spirit as it manifests moment by moment. For this to happen, we must step outside of ourselves and become aware.”

“Love without awareness – love absent parental consciousness – quickly turns into neediness and self-absorption. In fact, if we are honest, we would have to admit that this feeling we call “love” is often how we feel about ourselves when we are with the other person. It has to do with whether the other makes us feel as if we are lovable and worthy. Such love is therefore highly conditional.”

“Disguised as love for the other, much of our love is really all about love for ourselves.”

This chapter really resonated with me. If I could, I would quote every line in this chapter. It made me reflect not only on my relationship with my kids but also on many other relationships in my life. Brilliant!

How many times have I heard people proclaim that parenting is just following a natural instinct? To me, it is not! It is much more than that. To me, it is a continuous process of introspection, reflection, learning and growing to redefine old parenting values passed on through generations while also comparing the practiced values with the aspirational values at the same time, doing my best to bridge the gap between them.

Also, the definition of love is so messed up in most of our heads as adults, parents, spouses, friends, etc. We are always judging our relationships based on how the other person makes us feel, this indulging in selfish, egoic, conditional love which leads to unfulfilling relationships which is the major cause of sadness and emptiness in most of our lives. To practice unconditional love in our relationships requires practicing unconditional love towards ourselves. When there is enough self love then there is no need to look for relationships to make us feel good as the “feel-good” feeling comes naturally from within. This lack of self love reflects badly on our children more than any other relationship in our lives because with our children we are automatically conditioned to enter into a relationship where we think we are superior to them. This is the reason why a parent who lacks self love seems to gain control over their child in many unconscious ways thus repeating the cycle of raising another generation that lacks self love and is very likely to live unconsciously.

Dr Tsabary says that parenting should require going through a training program to acquire a license and I agree with her 100%. Love is a basic requirement for parenting but that is definitely not enough. Blindly following one’s natural parenting instincts without consciously analyzing and readjusting them according to the need (i.e., what each child needs from the parent) will only cause parents to pass on the generations of parental dysfunction to their children.

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