Before the tiny tots come into our lives, we dream of being the perfect mummies to our children. We envision the special bonds we share, and the general merriment of the happily ever after family of mum, dad and kids.\u00a0 Fast forward a few years, we find that the reality of parenting can be quite different from our ideals. Of all the jobs I\u2019ve had in my life, parenting is the hardest I\u2019ve had! Sometimes, I give myself a pat on the back for having done something right. On countless occasions I\u2019ve also felt terrible for the opposite. There\u2019s much hard and heart work to parenting. We have so much to learn as each stage of our children\u2019s growth calls for different parenting ways. What\u2019s more complicated is that each child may require different parenting styles in order to thrive. One size doesn\u2019t fit all in parenting work! Some years ago I came across this term called conscious parenting. I read the book by the same title, and watched the introductory Ted Talk by the author\u00a0 Dr. Shefali Tsabary, who is a clinical psychologist. She\u2019s done a pretty amazing job in sharing her eye-opening thoughts about this method of parenting. In one of her conversations with Oprah Winfrey, she talked about one of the myths of parenting and it is something most of us are probably doing unconsciously. What Is Conscious Parenting? Image credit: Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay Conscious parenting focuses on parents looking inwards at themselves, being aware of their values and belief systems. Having a better understanding of themselves, they then develop mindful parenting choices.\u00a0 The way I understand it, the idea is to make us connect first with our inner selves, to be able to connect better with our children. Its aim is to foster a healthy and positive relationship between parent and child, even through hard times. This method of parenting is rooted in Eastern beliefs, combined with Western psychology. I personally find this relevant to our kids who are raised predominantly with Asian values, with increasing exposure to Western influences. Here are three useful aspects of conscious parenting that I\u2019ve picked up. Stepping Back From The \u201cI Say, You Do\u201d Kind Of Relationship To be a conscious parent, we need to accept that parenting is a two-way relationship. During our grandparents childhood days, and even up to our own childhood days, we are usually \u201cgoverned\u201d by authoritative figures. There\u2019s no questioning what our parents say. Their word is our command. Our children are different in today\u2019s world. Even at a young age, they have learned to question us when we tell them what they can and can\u2019t do. They are well exposed and have developed a mind of their own very early on in life. What\u2019s more, they are also more vocal than many of us were when we were at their age. It won\u2019t work well with our children if we stop them from questioning our parental advise. Brushing off their questions or telling them not to question our authority won\u2019t help in building the relationship. So in a sense, we need to be able to explain the reasons for our do\u2019s and don\u2019ts for them, and if they make sense to the children, they will accept and abide by them. In being a conscious parent, we have to realise that our children don\u2019t \u201cbelong\u201d to us. As such, we can\u2019t do whatever we want with them just because we are parents and they have to abide by that hierarchy. They need guidance, that\u2019s for sure, but they don\u2019t need to be told to do things our way or else\u2026 Our Children Have Lessons For Us, Too Conscious parenting also points out that we need to drop the idea that it is our duty to teach children and their only job is to learn from us. Rather, it is a two-way thing. Whilst we may have a lot more life experiences to impart life lessons to them, children too have lots to teach us about our inner selves. If we are keeping an open mind and allow our children to show us to ourselves, we have lots to learn about our own strengths and weaknesses. It\u2019s one thing to see them all flashed before our eyes, it\u2019s another to want to use these lessons to better ourselves. Only when we are able to function as a better version of ourselves can we be better parents to our children. Dropping Our Egos And Desire For Control Image credit: Hai Nguyen Tien from Pixabay When we are irked by our children, we usually don\u2019t just let things slide. Especially if we hold on to the idea that as parents, we have full authority and control over our children. We will show them who\u2019s boss and waste no time in dishing out adequate punishments or lashing out at them. Conscious parenting tells us that before we let our ego slip in to take control to react in such situations, first and foremost we need to remain calm and understand what\u2019s going on. I remember this teaching from Stephen R. Covey\u2019s book very well, \u201cSeek first to understand, then to be understood.\u201d He says that most of us don\u2019t listen with the intent to understand, rather we listen with the intent to reply. What I get out of this is that when we are emotionally rubbed the wrong way, we take this personally and don\u2019t act objectively. If we let our ego take charge, we will react in a way to seek control. Being in control in the wrong way may do more harm than good to our relationships. Do We React Or Respond To Situations? In our interactions with our children, they can either bring out the best or the worst in us, depending on how we\u2019ve been conditioned to handle situations. So, before we react in a manner that doesn\u2019t help to strengthen the mother and child relationship, we are advised to stop, reflect and respond in a more helpful and serving manner.\u00a0 Notice that I\u2019ve highlighted the words react and respond. They are not the same thing. According to Psychology Today, reactions are immediate and usually come about without thinking. Responses take time to be crafted out, having gone through some mindful thinking process. When we react, we let our ego do as it pleases. When we respond, we are keeping ego at bay. Releasing Our Children\u2019s Need For Our Approval Image credit: ncb80 from Pixabay It happens to all of us. As parents, we either endorse or reject our children\u2019s actions and behaviours. We praise the good and chastise the bad. This means our children will look up to our approvals and disapprovals as a compass to all that they are and do. Each of us has unique qualities and personalities. Some are inborn qualities, some are acquired. Most of us will feel most comfortable to be in our own skin than to pretend to be someone we\u2019re not. The same goes for our children. For them to gain our approval is to have them meet our expectations. Sometimes, our expectations are not well-founded. Do we understand where our expectations stem from? It could be from our own unfulfilled goals or even those of our parents. They may not even serve our children well. Yet, these are the subconscious expectations that we have for our children. Acceptance Of Our Children What we are doing is simply moulding them with our cookie-cutter. Instead of accepting our children for who they are, we are shaping them to be who we think they should be. We are indirectly telling them that we resist who they are. This sows seeds of dysfunction and may set off defiant behaviours. We may not be telling them so, but our actions speak louder. In a functional family, acceptance of each other is key. Acceptance is a good thing and isn\u2019t the same thing as a sign of resignation to something we cannot change. If we worry they will turn out the wrong way, then play a role in guiding and helping them shape themselves.\u00a0 The Thing With Conscious Parenting Whilst the concept sounds assuring and workable, the truth of the matter is that we are threading on very fine lines in how we adopt this. It\u2019s always a check and balance, and a lot of self-reflection to ensure that we aren\u2019t once again operating in a subconscious manner. It\u2019s not something we will perfect overnight. Yet, if we are able to practise some of it, the benefits to our children would be tremendous. There\u2019s a lot more to conscious parenting that what I\u2019ve shared above. You can read the book to understand more. It contains more in-depth and mindful parenting advise that\u2019s coupled with sound psychology. The bottom line is we all want the same things, that is to have a pleasant parenting journey, and for our kids to turn out in the best way possible - happy, loved, with a successful outlook in life. May we find it one way or another, while enjoying our motherhood journey.