Mindful and intentioned action are key cogs within the conscious parenting approach to raising kids.
While the pillars of this parenting style have existed for a long time, conscious parenting appears to have gained increased traction in recent years, according to thought leaders in this space. The renewed momentum has been fuelled in part by the global pandemic.
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Welcome to where parents talk. My name is Lianne Castelino. Our guest today is a parenting thought leader, Best Selling Author, TEDx speaker and entrepreneur. Katherine Winter Sellery is also a parenting coach, a trained mediator, and founder of conscious parenting revolution. And organization created to strengthen communication, collaboration and cooperation within families. She’s also the mother of two young adults. And she joins us today from Clearwater Bay, Hong Kong. Thank you so much for taking the time. So great to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me. So it’s a very interesting topic in terms of where we are today, the last three years has put family life under a particular microscope. And I wonder as a starting point, how has that reality impacted your work as a parenting coach who teaches conscious parenting, and the lockdowns have impacted so many families in so many ways, I mean, it’s just been like a huge rock in a pond that has all these ripples that have come out from it. But so many of my clients and I think people actually beginning to wonder about conscious parenting or even about finding someone who’s a coach to help them with their family systems is a relatively new idea that a lot of people wouldn’t even have thought about that. However, the dynamics have changed a lot with this new world order. Although I do think things are kind of getting back to normal, but it’s left a lot of impact. A lot of kids missed out on socialization.
A lot of them are having more trouble getting back into school, and feeling more confident, I would say for a certain sector have a type of child that may not have been completely comfortable in school, they got a lot more comfortable at home. And so for those kids going back has been really, really difficult. And some of them are on strike, and they won’t go. So I’ve had a lot of families where their kids are on strike, and they really just don’t want to go back. And then for other families, obviously, you know,
there can be a lot more tension when you’re around each other a lot more. And so a lot of problems arose. And there was you know, the pressure cooker experience. So just Yeah, it was huge, huge, the impact will be felt for a long time.
So how do you go about then defining conscious parenting for perhaps a parent who is not familiar with that terminology? Hmm, sure. I think as a conscious parent, you’re aware of when you’re projecting your issues onto your child, as a conscious parent, when you’re triggered, you’re conscious enough to recognize that the catalyst is not the cause of your feelings. And so you have the opportunity to take the side road out of the world of you make me feel to wow, this is generating a lot of feelings in me. And I need to be with this because this is all about me. So that distinction is so important. Because otherwise we do tend to blame our children, for the times where they’ve catalyzed our experiences. You look how upset you’ve made me look at the gray hairs you give me I mean, this whole idea of experiencing your experience as Wow, I’m really upset when my kids don’t cooperate with me. Now I need to be with that and figure out my more effective way forward with conflict resolution. So consciousness brings the awareness that this is really my opportunity to learn more skills, my kids are naturally going to be less skilled than I am, they’re going to have less ability to access their frontal cortex, they’re gonna have fewer skills of being able to regulate their emotions, just all of that is the consciousness that we need to have as parents in order to really be effective at our job.
It sounds so simple as you describe it, Katherine, but in the heat of the moment, you know, you’ve got a teenager or you’ve got a toddler that they just want their way. So how do you suggest a parent? Take that step back? Right? That’s so great, because of course, at that very moment, the parent also just wants their way now, don’t they? Right? I mean, it’s that mirror mirror on the wall. So you’ve got two people in a room who both want their way.
But, you know, the only one who really has access to more skills is the adult if they have skills, and if they don’t have skills, they just try to use power, because that they do have an amplitude of power, and they’ll try to use their power to control and usually that activates retaliation, rebellion and resistance. So then you have the three
ours in the room and once you get the three R’s in the room, now you’re dealing with those. So your primary problem, whatever that was gets lost, because now you’ve activated all these other secondary problems, and you spend 75% of your time dealing with the reactions to how you dealt with the primary issue. So this is the Nexus, the Nexus is, wow, if I don’t use power and control, then I don’t activate retaliation, rebellion and resistance. And now I’ve eliminated 75% of the time that I spent, because most of the time parents spend dealing with all of the secondary problems. So if I can just stay in my lane, and not go into power and control because we have it doesn’t mean we use it, or we decide how we use it, we can only begin to wonder what is going on in this human over here. That’s making it impossible for them to comply with my demands.
So we shift our focus away from my experience of your no to wondering what you’re saying yes to inside of yourself.
So we began to train our selves, our minds in this would apply whether it’s a young child, where you can just see that they’re struggling to be able to be cooperative, because some of their basic needs aren’t being met, maybe they’re tired, or, you know, maybe they’re hungry, or just the really basic things. And so no matter what punishment or reward you would want to do to get them to comply, it will not work, you know, you just have to meet the needs, you have to feed them, you have to put them to sleep, you have to take care of them in that way. And then Presto pronto. They wake up all noon, and they’re very cooperative, or it’s an older person, and older could be anywhere from, you know, literally any age on where they have their own experience of what their hearing you want from them. And they can’t just say, yes, they have a whole thing that’s happening over here. So that whole thing that’s happening over there, you have to begin to be curious about it. And as you move out of demand, and into curiosity, they lean in to connection, because now you’re actually interested in what’s going on for them rather than just continuing to demand compliance. So it’s an entire ecosystem that we’re setting up that’s really rooted in connection, and connection has to happen from that place of curiosity rather than insistence.
What are some of the other common pitfalls that you would say that parents fall into? Or, you know, when they come to see you at their wit’s end? They have basically had the same pain points or gaps, what are some of the more common ones?
I would say recently, in my coaching calls, we just had a huge conversation yesterday about
when a child is in this case, 15. And they have pimples on their face, and they don’t want to go to school, and how to work with that child to overcome their self consciousness. And this is, you know, right now, we’re talking about a teenager, but you can take that all the way down the line, and all the way up the line, for that matter. Every one of us has a self concept. And our self concept either supports us getting through things that are difficult, or it doesn’t. And so I think that a lot of parents have,
and are struggling, seeing their children make the bad decision of wanting to stay home and hide from the world at large, because they’re worried about what people are going to say about the way they look that day. And so how do we raise children who are less self conscious in that way, and able to be with the part of themselves that’s worried about what other people think, without letting it hijack and become the decision maker? And so a big conversation that I find with parents all the time is this idea of are you raising children to grow up with this thought what other people think about me is none of my business? Or are you raising children to be so so concerned with what other people say? And that starts back in the house, where if you train children to be obedient and compliant, and just do as they’re told, You’re focusing the mind of the child on the other person with power and control, and what they’re going to do usually rewards and punishments, and therefore the mind of the child is always focused on this thing outside of them. And we call it an external locus of causality and
we actually train children to be thinking about what other people are going to do or say to them and let that become the pivot point, as opposed to teaching children to have an internal locus of causality, who are motivated from within, for them to be in touch with that part of themselves, and be able to turn toward it with interested curiosity to they themselves establish what we call self in presence. And if they have self in presence, and the capacity to hold space, for all of these different parts of themselves that are arising constantly, if you get the principle or if somebody brushes you off, or this or that it activates something inside of them, do they have the emotional resilience, to learn how to turn toward that something and be with it? Or do they not even recognize that there’s a something inside of themselves, and they just merge with it, and allow it to take the wheel and drive their behavior in their action. So this core sense of self, and the development of that allows parents to create an ecosystem for their children to grow up, where what you think about me is none of my business. And I am free from the prison of peer pressure, I’m free from the prison of what other people can do or say, to manipulate me or control me, it gives that person a child, the internal power. So this is a huge topic, which were always in one way or another coming back to, because so many adults have been trained to give their power to someone else. And they’re actually not guiding their own ship. And so it’s very difficult for them to raise children who were also are empowered, centered, and have that internal locus to be able to move forward in spite of all the things that are coming up. So they’re kind of big, overarching conversations around locus of control around how much power we want to give to other people. And the extent to which the way I raise my child has actually bathed them in the mindset of, oh, well, what are they going to do? If I don’t, or what you know, it’s this whole idea of teaching children to be not considerate of other people’s needs, because that’s not what obedience and compliance and rewards and punishments teach. It doesn’t teach consideration. It teaches obedience and compliance, and it makes children actually very vulnerable to abuse. So that opens up a whole nother can of worms, there are so many cans out there, how many hours you have? No, I mean, you’re bringing up so many incredibly important points in what you just said. But I wonder if you’re a parent who sees yourself in what you just described, because you were raised in a certain way. Now you’ve got the responsibility of raising your own children. At what point do you say to yourself, I think I need guidance, I think I need help from an outside source, because that is not always a, you know, a default for many parents who may be struggling silently, totally. Now I, as I said to you, you know, I think COVID was the tipping point COVID brought a certain element that had never been there before. So now for a lot of families, they’re spending more time in close contact than they’ve ever spent. And that is not necessarily a formula for connection. Sometimes it’s a formula for more eruptions. And so a lot of conflict. I mean, as you probably know, there was a tremendous amount of abuse that happened in families during COVID, as well.
So if you find yourself yelling at your kids, if you find yourself feeling,
I don’t know, like, if you’re self shaming, like, Oh, God, I just, I’m a horrible Mother, what’s wrong with me and you’re doing all of that cruelty to yourself, then it’s time for help.
It’s time to recognize, oh my gosh, I don’t even realize that when I signed up to be a parent. I signed up to have all of my own demons served up to me through my children. My children came as my teachers, they came to heal me. They came to bring up for me everything inside of me that I haven’t had to look at. And so before you know it for a lot of people, their children become like a battleground. And there are lots and lots of arguments because maybe their kids are not going to be obedient and compliant. Maybe they have an autonomous child, which when in the trainings that I teach we talk about having the blogger’s the kids who want to please you, they want to make you happy. They feel like you know if you’re okay, they’re okay. And they’re always looking to see How’s mom doing, How’s dad doing? And they will adjust their behavior based on the response.
So those are kids that are easier to raise because they really are bathed in this idea of what other people think about me, you know, actually makes me feel good or bad. So I would say there’s a huge risk factor with those children. They might be easier to raise, but they’re also very much at risk. And then you’ve got the kids that are prepared to basically upset the applecart ruffle your feathers, not please you, and those are the kids that are like, No, I won’t do it. And that really, I mean, the No, I won’t do it can activate a lot of parents into out of control behaviors of their own. And so if you have an autonomous child who’s prepared to risk your displeasure, then chances are you’re drowning as the parent, because most parents only have this one mechanism, power control rewards and punishments. And that is the least effective and not only not effective, it makes the problem worse. So if you don’t have other skills in your tool, shed,
your relationship is going to get more and more severed, more and more distant, and more and more explosive, and the child would become more and more explosive, because the parent without even knowing it, is pouring gasoline on the fire every time they open up their mouth. And now the house is burning down around them.
So So on that note, Katherine, what are some other key tools that you suggest parents have in their arsenal?
Well, a few of them I’ve mentioned already, but I mean, primarily knowing when to shift from trying to deliver a message to really leaning in and listening. Listening is not giving instructions lecturing, asking questions, moralizing preaching, that is not listening. And parents who think that those responses are listening are really mistaken. And it is the it is the gasoline that they’re pouring on a fire where the other person doesn’t feel seen, heard or understood or really, from their perspective reflected back. So being able to shift from the deliverer of the message to the one who can listen to the resistance that they’re getting, and really understand it so that they can give back to the child. And reflect back to the child care perspective. The child’s perspective is like the magic wand. So I would say in this whole big cabinet of tools, that’s the magic wand, also self compassion, the ability for that parent to really have compassion for their own experiences, because their inner child is being activated all day long. And it’s the one that’s beginning to possibly take over their directedness what’s going on for them, the words coming out of their mouth, the you know, ideas that come into their heads. And so just being able to go wow, this is a huge overreaction for parents to acknowledge their own overreactions. And to recognize that when they are in an overreaction, they’re ineffective, manipulative, abusive, pouring gasoline on the fire, they need to learn how to take care of themselves so that they don’t damage this relationship. And I think there’s a ton of
people who either make excuses for themselves or potentially shame themselves, like kind of the two spectrums, but don’t necessarily just go wow, you know, I just need to learn new tools, I just need to become more effective at conflict resolution, I just need to be a more
cooperative parent who doesn’t see children as needing to just do as they’re told. So I guess one of the other big tools is really recognizing the extent to which you may have without recognizing it, a strong prejudice against children, you describe to yourself any behaviors that you don’t like, as being manipulative, out to get you that they could have done better, they’re not, then when you begin to describe their bad behavior in those terms, it really is evidence of what I call the last marginalized community to really be acknowledged, and the last marginalized community to be acknowledged is children, and that they are routinely treated as though they are manipulative. They could have done better. I hear parents say these things in describing the behaviors that they don’t like when we all know maybe not that behavior is a reflection of needs being met or needs not being met. So the more tragic the expression of the be in the behavior that you’re seeing the tragic expression of the
met need, and the more tragic expression of the unmet need and the more tragic expression of the unmet need. And when you see it that way, you’re less inclined to go to well, we got to come down hard on them. Because if you allow this to just keep on happening, you’re gonna get more of it. And now that’s the mindset again, that it’s you reward the behaviors you want, you’ll get more of them punished come down on the behaviors you don’t want, you’ll get less of them. Well, that
that would only be true if we didn’t know about retaliation, rebellion and resistance, and that the three R’s are activated through power and control. Not with everyone but with a lot. And you know, some of my TED talks, one of them in particular says the rebellion is here we created and we can solve it, and it speaks to children who have so felt unseen, unheard,
not understood from their perspective, over such a long period of time, they’ve been isolated, and alone and in pain. And everyone looks at the tragic expression as punishable offenses, which causes them to feel more isolated, more alone, more afraid. And the expression of that becomes a more and more tragic expression. And it can result in many lives being lost, many lives being lost. So if we don’t get this right, and begin to see the tragic expression of the unmet need, rather than good, bad, punishable, what do I do to it, then we activate a whole nother problem that is impacting society. And it’s epidemic. And it’s across all, you know, generational lines, cultural lines, geographical lines, it doesn’t matter. It’s a human response to being not seen acknowledged or heard, we can extrapolate and see how this applies on geopolitical scales, we can see it on all kinds of different areas, and it all starts at home. To me, that’s sort of like the place where everything changes, we change the world when we change our families.
It’s such an important point. And I wonder, you know, you talked about the pandemic being a tipping point, in terms of, you know, families being under the microscope, power and control examples of that are pervasive in society. We’re talking about bullying, you know, abuse excetera. So does that bring us to some kind of a tipping point on this topic, in your estimation? You know, you’ve been at this for many years. And I wonder what your thought is on? Where do we go from here, given everything that we’re seeing, whether it’s social media, the pandemic, etc, etc. And it’s a confluence of factors contributing, as well?
I think that when when we look at the mechanism that a lot of systems use,
from the family system all the way through to our governmental systems,
I think the systems that work the best are the ones that have
a concern that
everyone has a voice at the table, that everybody’s perspective is taken into consideration, that you actually have the ability to, you know, pass the pen around the table and have every person at the table, be able to say what the other person’s perspective was, and understand it, and then be able to say, and here’s how I see it. And so if you can do that, it is that sharing of information that really supports transformation. And so, whenever we can do that, whether it’s at home, or it’s at the school board meeting, or it’s an student teacher conference, or if it’s any other forum, then it’s no longer about, I have the power and control. And your job is to simply bow to me, it’s no longer about any, any of the things that require us to exert,
rather than to connect and connection is really from that place of, well, you know, even though I have the power and control, I would like to use my power and control in ways that I believe will bring about more harmony, more connection will bring about a more
a sense of we all really do belong to each other. That if we have that deep sense of what we if we all do really belong to each other, then what’s going on for you impacts me one way or the other. And so it becomes of interest
To me, maybe from a selfish place, because if you’re not okay, I’m not okay. But it really is a mindset shift away from my God all mine. So I don’t care so much about you as long as mine and what I consider mine is taken care of. So if I start to think of things a little bit differently, that really this idea of we belong to each other than mine is actually like, Well, I’m not okay, then if you’re not okay. And, you know, these are huge conversations we’re having right now. So to just in a very light way, put a brush to it, I would say,
yes, how we look at power and control, and what is ours is a big part of the conversation. And then what’s responsible? And how do we move forward? You know, you said earlier, one of the conversations that I have in my trainings and what I find parents are concerned about, you can get to a place where my compassion and understanding can also be enabling bad behavior. So again, each one of these is so nuanced. How do I not use power and control? When I see my kids are doing things that I’m concerned about? How do I manage that line between demanding obedience and compliance because I’m the mother and the father, I’m the one who is the elder into the land of their protective use of force, where actually I’m using force because I’m worried about what would happen if I continue to let you go down this road, which could jeopardize your reputation could jeopardize your future could jeopardize. There are times when parents have to get in there and use power, not from demanding compliance. But from a place of, Oh, my God, this is protection. And from that place on the outside, the things we’re doing can look like control and power, but it’s not coming from the same place inside. So just throw that in there. Because I’m sure a lot of people will be listening to this going, Well hold on a minute. If I give up on using my power, then what’s going to happen? They’ll never do their homework, they’ll never do this, they’ll never do that. And I would say, Well, on that level,
we need to shift the reason why kids do things. So now we’re into the land of motivation. And what motivates someone we’re back to the story of Well, is it what you know? Is it the carrot or the stick? Or is there something about intrinsic motivation that motivates someone? And this is a massive conversation about motivation? Can we motivate without using power and control? Can we motivate without using rewards and punishments? And in fact, if we don’t use those things, will their own intrinsic motivation come forward? And how do we cultivate and support that? Because really, it’s not about me, it’s about them. It’s about supporting them to find their Northstar and helping them to continue to have the environment to be able to pursue that. I think I just mixed it all up. But in any event, there you go. No, it was it was extremely eloquent and articulate. So thank you for that. And I think all those points are it’s so integrated, right? It’s so so important to cover all the points you just made. Now, Katherine, you’re also an architect of the guidance approach to parenting. Could you take us through what that entails? And how does that fit into conscious parenting?
Basically, everything that I’ve been speaking to is the guidance approach to parenting, which is instead of rewards and punishments. So if you want to look at a behavior list approach to parenting, it’s about what you do to someone. It’s about the carrot or the stick. And a guidance approach says, Yeah, well, here’s the deal. If that works, that might be one thing. But it may work. And you may get what you want, but you don’t get it for the reasons that you want it.
And so we’re going one step deeper in the conscious parenting revolution, which is, well, why am I getting the change? Am I getting the change? Because they’re afraid of me, of what I’m going to do to them if they don’t do what I want? In which case, the cornerstone of our relationship is fear? And do I want the cornerstone of my relationship with the most precious people in my life to be based on fear and dependence on me for the goodies? Or do I want to raise children who are considerate of my needs? Who are taking me into consideration not because they’re afraid of what I’m going to do to them if they don’t, but are taking me into consideration because actually, they have
taken on board this value that the one we were just talking about that? Well, me just getting what I want isn’t really how I want to lead my life. I want to also be concerned
About my neighbor about my mom about my dad about my siblings. So we start to cultivate in the family system, in a guidance approach, that we don’t change our behavior because of what’s going to happen to us. If we don’t, we change our behavior because we take into consideration another person in the room. And we start to learn about being considerate, because it’s a value and we choose it. And that is completely different than doing things for someone else, because you’re afraid of what’s going to happen if you don’t do it. And when you use rewards and punishments, and a behavior list approach, it’s basically the foundation of why people change their behavior, do you want that? I don’t think people do want that. But that’s not what they’re doing. If they really want people to change their behavior out of consideration, then it really is a whole different can of worms. And it’s not about the rewards and punishment world. It’s not about paying for grades, it’s not about paying for doing the dishes, it’s not about paying for cleaning up your room. And that, of course, is what a behavior list trains their children to do. And then I often get parents who are like, I didn’t realize it, now. They want me to pay them more. Or they’ll say, Well, no, I’m not interested in that anymore. You clean it. And parents are like, Oh, my God, what’s going on what’s going on. And they can also see, whoa, I created this. I created this by the system that I used. So a guidance approach to parenting doesn’t use rewards and punishment. That doesn’t mean that we’re doormats, it means that we actually work in this land of conversation, connection, understanding each other’s perspectives, and being able to reflect back to children, their feelings and needs, because they’re going to have their own feelings and needs. And they need to learn the name for their feelings. And they need to learn what their needs are, so that they can begin to start speaking about their inner world from this place of I have a feeling because these needs of mine are not being met. Or I have these feelings because these needs of mine are being met. Instead of I have this feeling because of what you did to me. And now we’re back in the land of victim blame consciousness. And when you use rewards and punishments, you cultivate the land of victim blame consciousness, because again, the mind of the child is always focused on what you’re gonna do to me or not do for me. And it’s not focused on wow, you know, what’s what’s going on inside of me, the what’s going on inside of me is not selfishness itself in presence. It’s me being present in a relationship being present in the relationship with myself. And we need to cultivate that. And that’s what the guidance approach does. It cultivates the skills in the parent community, to be able to empower their children to be connected to their own sense of things at the same time as as also being connected to well, what’s going on for Mom, what’s going on for dad? Why are they so like crazy about this point? At the same time, parents understanding, if somebody’s resisting something, there’s a reason for it, other than they’re out to get me they’re manipulative, they’re bad. They’re other than this script of judgment. Because observation without evaluation is the highest form of human intelligence. Krishnamurti said, observation without evaluation is the highest form of human intelligence. Well, what does that even mean? To be the observer observation without the evaluation, if you just start listening to the words people use, they’re almost always evaluating someone based on their experience of this someone.
So one of the big shifts in the guidance approach is, when your kids are acting out, it’s very easy to focus on your experience of them acting out and make it all about you your experience of someone else falling apart. And I’ve had many clients one in particular, I’m thinking of who’s been a client for many years, who I’ve supported with her three kids, and, and she’ll get super upset about something one of the kids is doing, and she’ll reach out to me, and I’ll be like, okay, sure, we can talk about your experience of your child falling apart. We can do that. You know, it’s an expensive phone call, but okay. Or we can just go to Oh, my God, your kids are falling apart. Wow, what’s going on for this one, that one, the other one, and we can move away from my experience of what it’s like to be around someone falling apart to my sense of Oh, my God, they’re drowning. What can I do to get in my little rowboat, and pull them out of the pond before they die? And they’re drowning in emotion. They’re out of control. They’re nowhere near their frontal cortex is there’s not a chance they’re going to make a good, solid, rational decision, because they’re flooded with emotion. And now you’re
reacting to it. And you’re making it all about your experience.
Put your experience aside. It’s not about you. It’s about this person over here that’s drowning. So a guidance approach helps parents get back in command of themselves. One of my clients, a gentleman said, at the end of my 790 Day parenting reset at the end of the 90 day parenting reset, he said to me, I feel like I’m finally the parent.
That I’m not just a big kid who’s also throwing tantrums every time my child is out of control. And I finally feel like I’ve stepped into my parents shoes. And that was just so wonderful to know that in 90 days, this man could go from, you know, pounding his fist on the table and wanting to take TV away or wanting to take playdates away or wanting to do all of this stuff that of course, that’s all he’s ever seen. That’s probably what happened to him most of the time it is. And so we’re just repeating
over and over again, the same thing. transgenerational trauma transgenerational in effectiveness training transgenerational pain and control issues. I mean, it just goes down and it’s like a pebble you know, running through, you know, the pond, and you get to eventually say, it’s the buck stops here. It stops with me.
So much incredible food for thought Katherine, we are out of time. Katherine Winter Sellery, founder of conscious parenting revolution. And an author, thank you so much for your time and your insight today. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure to be here and I also have a free parenting book.com So parents, please go to free parenting book.com and download my seven strategies to keep your relationship with your kids from hitting the boiling point.
Wonderful. Thank you so much, Katherine. Thank you
“The [family] dynamics have changed a lot in this new world order,” says Katherine Winter-Sellery, founder of the Conscious Parenting Revolution, describing the impact of COVID-19 on family life.
In a video and podcast interview with Lianne Castelino of Where Parents Talk, Winter-Sellery, who is also a parenting coach, trained mediator, speaker and mother of two based in Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong, describes this parenting approach, its component parts, and impact.
Here is a snapshot of the Where Parents Talk Q&A with Katherine Winter-Sellery:
The last three years has put family life under a particularly intense microscope. How has that reality impacted your work as a parenting coach who teaches conscious parenting?
So the lockdowns have impacted so many families in so many ways. It has just been like a huge rock and upon that has all these ripples that have come out from it. So many of my clients and people actually beginning to wonder about conscious parenting or even about finding someone who’s a coach to help them with their family systems is a relatively new idea, that a lot of people wouldn’t even have thought about. The dynamics have changed a lot with this new world order. So I’ve had a lot of families where their kids are on strike, and they really just don’t want to go back. And then for other families, there can be a lot more tension when you’re around each other a lot more. And so a lot of problems arose. There was the pressure cooker experience. It was huge, huge. The impact will be felt for a long time.
How do you define conscious parenting?
As a conscious parent, you’re aware of when you’re projecting your issues onto your child. As a conscious parent, when you’re triggered, you’re conscious enough to recognize that the catalyst is not the cause of your feelings. And so you have the opportunity to take the side road — out of the world of you make me feel — to wow, this is generating a lot of feelings in me, and I need to be with this because this is all about me. That distinction is so important, because otherwise we do tend to blame our children for the times where they’ve catalyzed our experiences. So consciousness brings the awareness that this is really my opportunity to learn more skills. My kids are naturally going to be less skilled than I am, they’re going to have less ability to access their frontal cortex, they’re going to have fewer skills of being able to regulate their emotions. Just all of that is the consciousness that we need to have as parents in order to really be effective at our job.
What are some other key tools that you suggest parents may have to have in their arsenal, if they want to pursue a conscious parenting approach?
Primarily knowing when to shift from trying to deliver a message to really leaning in and listening. Listening is not giving instructions lecturing, asking questions, moralizing preaching that is not listening. And parents who think that those responses are listening are really mistaken. And it is the gasoline that they’re pouring on a fire where the other person doesn’t feel seen, heard or understood or really, from their perspective, reflected back.
Self compassion. The ability for that parent to really have compassion for their own experiences, because their inner child is being activated all day long, and it’s the one that’s beginning to possibly take over their directedness —what’s going on for them — the words coming out of their mouth, the ideas that come into their heads. So just being able to go wow, this is a huge overreaction —- for parents to acknowledge their own overreactions.
Are we at some kind of tipping point on this topic, in your estimation, and where do we go from here?
The mechanism that a lot of systems use, from the family system all the way through to our governmental systems — I think the systems that work the best are the ones that have a concern that everyone has a voice at the table, that everybody’s perspective is taken into consideration, that you actually have the ability to pass the pen around the table and have every person at the table be able to say what the other person’s perspective was and understand it, and then be able to say, and here’s how I see it. If you can do that, that sharing of information really supports transformation.
Watch or listen to the full interview with Katherine Winter-Sellery.