Peaceful Parenting
Question Everything! The Benefits of Inquiry

by Amy Edwards

Humanity is in the midst of an awakening process. We are discovering that our thoughts are powerful and our capacity to create a life of either satisfaction or suffering lies in our ability to identify our unconscious thoughts and belief systems, bring them into present-time awareness, and question their validity. The desire to become more conscious, in every aspect of our lives, is becoming imperative.

In this paradigm, the decision to parent from a more conscious place than, perhaps, we ourselves were parented, is compelling us toward deep examination of our beliefs and choices in the realm of parenting and our relationship with our children. It's critical to identify our own needs and personal hurts in order to avoid repeating painful patterns from our past. Especially when frustration levels are high, we tend to fall into old, familiar patterns of behavior, carrying our unresolved emotional baggage into our interactions with family members. How many times have we heard ourselves utter words/phrases that came directly out of our own mother's or father's mouth? Words we swore we'd never repeat? How often are we functioning on "auto pilot", rather than being actually present and responding in the moment?

How we behave and interact in every relationship is subject to our conditioning. Somewhere along the line, usually in childhood, we internalized a set of "dos" and "don'ts", "rights" and "wrongs" - imparted by our parents or other outside influences, or made up in our youthful minds in an attempt to understand or cope. Some of these were valid, but all will benefit from some conscious re-evaluation.

How do we begin this process of inquiry? Easy - question everything! Everything you believe, everything you tell your kids, everything you tell yourself. Question all of your judgments, assumptions, and belief systems. Start by simply paying attention. Not necessarily to what your CHILD is saying/doing, with the intent of looking for what may be underlying it and how to correct it. But paying attention to what YOU are saying, what YOU are feeling, how YOU are doing. When you catch your mind in a belief system, when you feel a big "NO" bubbling up, ask yourself: Why? What thought proceeded this "NO"? Is that thought true? What is the underlying belief behind that thought? Is it based on love/truth or is it based on fear? Often, when you follow the trail of your answers down to their core, you will find a "flawed" belief system.

I remember the moment it "clicked" for me. My twin boys (then 2 years old) were playing in their new sandbox. Within minutes, they began scooping up sand and dumping it over the side, into the surrounding dirt. My first impulse was to try immediately establish a rule: "no, no, no, no... we keep the sand IN the box". But instead I stopped... took a breath... and asked myself, "...WHY?" Why must the sand stay in the box?

After a few minutes of examining my various rationales for insisting they stop, I finally came to a truth: I felt afraid. Afraid of losing control, afraid of being judged as a bad parent, afraid if I let my kids do this, they would turn into monsters. Were any of these things true? Was my entire household going to be swept into a vortex of chaos because there were some grains of sand in my dirt? Was my success or failure as a mother actually reflected in the ratio of sand-in vs. sand-out of the sandbox? Wasn't the expense of the lost sand and the effort to transfer it back in at a later time worth the experience of watching my kids delight as the grains of sand spilled forth from their plastic shovels? Rather than ruin the moment for all of us, I relaxed and sat down with them in the sand.

Eventually, I realized that I could apply this technique whenever I felt a big "NO" come up within me. As I began to experiment with it, I realized that probably only 10% of my NOs really needed to be NOs. How liberating! For me and for my kids!

I strongly encourage anybody with an interest in conscious parenting to begin to question the reasons for your choices as a parent: Why must this room be cleaned up right now? Why must meals be eaten sitting at the table? Does the fact that he doesn't listen to me mean he doesn't care? What would happen if we skipped school today? Is it OK to have an ice cream cone for breakfast?

I'm not saying all of the above examples are erroneous. You might find good reasons for these things. However, through the process of inquiry, you might also find belief systems that are holding you back from creating an environment in which your relationship with your child can thrive.

If you are not practiced in entering the realm of deep self-reflection on your own, find a workshop, a workbook, a teacher, a coach/advisor/counselor, somebody with an objective viewpoint to help you get to the core of what is really underneath your belief systems. I am very aware that some of us carry a deep and painful history and may be concerned about opening those wounds without assistance. I am happy to give recommendations, via phone or email, of places you can get help to really uncover what's going on in your subconscious.

The practice of self-inquiry can be our greatest contribution to the emotional well-being of our kids and future generations.

Amy Edwards is a Parenting Coach and Parenting Advisor, applying the principles of Attachment Parenting, Consensual Living and Astrology to help parents attain authentic and respectful relationships with their children and families. For a free 15-minute consultation, call (916) 212-5501.