Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Fairly regularly, I have the disturbing notion that everything I am doing as a parent is completely wrong. Not a great feeling. My daughter, by most accounts, is a really delightful, well-adjusted seven-year-old, but still, I must be royally screwing her up right? Probably. But I still try to be a good parent despite the sad, likely inevitability that Lucia will resent me, dislike me, condemm me for some part of my parenting.

In my feeble attempt to prevent that sad, likely inevitability, I recently read a great parenting book-- Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children by Thomas Gordon. One of my take-aways from this book is the idea of acceptance. As parents, one important aspect of raising our children is to promote a sense of acceptance for them. For me as a parent, this translates into sometimes stepping out of Lucia's way and letting her figure things out for herself. It means sending her the strong clear message that, even if it isn't that way I would do something (the puzzle, the spelling homework, the sewing project), her way is okay, and I accept it. This is hard. It involves being really quiet, and maybe even completely removing myself from an activity. Being an engaged parent, an active parent, might in some ways be taking away from Lucia's ability to find her own path, her own voice.

I've noticed, for example, if I stop directing Lucia so much in her piano practice, she tries new things, like playing two chords at once instead of sticking to her prescribed lesson plan. Or, if i take myself out of her football game with her friend Cece, she gets way more down and dirty (a good thing for my risk-averse, indoor kitty child). My job-- to watch, to notice, to appreciate that she is figuring out who she is without my voice. This does not mean that I don't discipline Lucia. It doesn't preclude me from engaging with her. Not at all. It just puts me in the added position of being an active listener to what she is saying, doing, experiencing.

In many ways when we practice yoga we are our own parents, our own teachers. We discipline, direct, often judge and criticize. In yoga, particularly Savasana, we have an opportunity to shift roles. Like sitting on the sidelines while Lucia plays football, we get to get out of our directing roles and just listen--to our bodies, our minds, our hearts. When you are doing Savasana, notice if your parental voice is there. Is your mother's voice telling you to stop fidgeting? In Tadasana, is your old coach's bark commanding you to stay focused? That discipline, that rigor in our practice is so important. We don't want to lose that. But over time, with regular practice, the discipline and rigor are there. Let the voices quiet down a little bit. Allow yourself to practice without the judgement, the criticism. You'll be surprised at what you might learn.


  1. I agree! My mom was good at a lot of things but she was not good at remaining quiet when I wanted to try things my own way, or acknowledging that there are often many rights ways of doing something. I'm sure it stemmed from wanting to protect, encourage, and guide, but sometimes we have to be left to our own devices. Now as a parent myself, I see how HARD that is!

  2. This is your cousin Megan, by the way...didn't realize I had such a weird Google Pseudonym!

  3. Megan! I have a feeling you are really good at stepping aside!


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