There are few books that have made me think about my family history and the way I parent my children more than “The Awakened Family” by Dr. Shefali Tsabari. As a working mom of two, it’s so easy to get wrapped in the busyness of every day and avoid consciously thinking about parenting. Although there’s so much advice out there around the “right” way to be a parent, how to discipline our children, what to do and not to do, there’s no set formula for raising balanced, fulfilled kids.
The truth is, when it comes to parenting, many of us learn as we go. As much as we may like to pretend we know what we’re doing, most of us face, at some point or another of our parenting journey, the ultimate question: “Am I doing this right?”
The premise of “The Awakened Family” is that as conscious parents, we must focus on ushering our children into their destiny and allowing them to be their own persons, rather than seeking to impose our own will and desires on our kids. Dr. Tsabari encourages us to distinguish between the parenting habits we’ve acquired from our culture, experience or social conditioning while growing up, and parenting that actually helps our children be more of who they are.
I’m a world citizen born and raised in Senegal (West Africa) with African and European influences, who now resides in America and is married to a Cape Verdian man. Quite the cultural melting pot! If you now add to the mix kids born in America in a household that speaks Wolof, Creole, French and English, plus the mainstream Spanish because: Despacito and the need to get your hair pressed pin straight, we’re in International Land!
That’s also what Dr. Tsabari talks about in her book, as she recounts her own experience as an Indian woman who studied and later settled in the US. Faced with the impact of her own culture on her understanding and interpretation of life and parenting, she made the conscious decision, with the support of her parents, to stop allowing external influences from her upbringing and prior experiences to determine her destiny and how she raises her child.
In the same way, she advises us as parents to take a good hard look at how our own upbringing, cultural values and generational traditions, are standing in the way of our being able to parent consciously. We often repeat the same parenting patterns we’ve seen in our childhood, forgetting (or denying) some (or all) of the damaging effects these may have had on us. This is not to diminish the precious cultural values we’ve received in any way. Rather, it is to awaken us to the fact that each child is different, and must be raised as a way to enhance their strengths and qualities, rather than reject what may not agree with what we’ve been taught or exposed to.
Similarly, we also often allow outside circumstances and the weight of our personal lives and experiences, to affect the way we relate to our kids. We forget that we tend to project onto them our feelings and beliefs, without taking into account that they are their own people with their own dreams, destinies, tastes and preferences. Instead, we may unknowingly impose our worldview on them under the premise of absolute parental authority.
Reading Dr. Tsabari’s books, I was reminded of all those times when I repeated some of the parenting patterns I experienced as a child. While these were certainly valuable, they may not apply to the human beings I am given the privilege and responsibility to raise. Instead of looking at them as individual personalities in-forming, I may at times have projected onto them my own behaviors, thoughts, patterns, and wishes.
How many times do we stop and ask ourselves if the way we raise our children is for their greater good? How many times do we stop and collaborate with them to better understand them, rather than constantly telling them what to do? And how often do we stop and consider that their misbehaving and rebelling may actually be calls to pay attention to who they are, rather than who we want them to be? Most importantly, how often do we question ourselves as parents, and try to grow first before casting judgment on our children?
In her book, Dr. Tsabari explores our need to better understand ourselves and be more in touch with who we are as parents first. Children can very easily catch up on our vibes, even when we pretend to be someone we’re not. As such, we must first master ourselves, independently of the influences that may have shaped us. It’s only then that we can mirror to our children the values we try so hard to instill in them, but often fail to do so because they don’t see us living what we preach.
All in all, this book has changed the way I look at parenting, especially as a multicultural woman. I highly recommend it to all parents and anyone else looking to be more conscious of the way they parent.
What other books would you recommend?
To Your Success,
The Corporate Sis.
Author: Solange Lopes
Solange is the founder of The Corporate Sister, as well as an author, entrepreneur and CPA. She’s passionate about helping women do work they love, build fulfilling careers and living life on their own terms.