Transforming Ourselves & Empowering Our Children
A Book Review by Catherine Brys
The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Dr. Shefali Tsbary is distinct from other parenting books because the focus is not altering our children’s behavior, but embracing the lessons they teach us by deeply examining how our own histories, personalities, worries, and struggles give color and shape to our parenting style. Dr. Shefali challenges us to put aside our egos and expectations as we parent, attempting as best we can to keep our eyes open to our own strengths and shortcomings.
Making the decision to delve into one’s fears and insecurities, Dr. Tsbary writes, “isn't an easy one for a parent to make. Conscious parenting is hard, it requires one to look inward and ask why does this trigger me, why am I reacting?” Children provide a mirror reflecting our subconscious issues, and parents who understand this can enter into a deeper, heart-to-heart communion with their children, learning and growing alongside their children, rather than maintaining habitual or reactive patterns that tend to perpetuate dysfunctional family cycles of power, control, and dominance.
Dr. Tsbary also reminds us that each child is his/her own person - a unique and distinctive individual. We can do our best parenting when we recognize and honor our child’s choices and differences, even if they are different from those we wish for them. Dr. Tsbary writes: “When you parent, it’s crucial you realize you aren’t raising a “mini me,” but a spirit throbbing with its own signature.” She discourages parents from using praise or scolding to mold children into doing and being what most pleases them, recommending rather that parents allow their children the freedom to become the best at being who they truly are. She also suggests that parents can set high standards by speaking from their own authentic voices, being kind, expressing feelings directly, helping others, and entering in daily dialogue with their children.
The Conscious Parent is most inspiring and informative when the author shares her own experiences of coming into mindfulness as a parent. These honest stories offer the reader a clearer view of the process that takes place when one brings the ideals of mindfulness to parenting and how it can feel to deal with internal doubt, fear, and resistance. By sharing her own imperfections in the process, Dr. Tsbary is able to truly encourage parents to stay open-hearted, open-minded, truly present, and engaged.