The Practice Of Being
As a parent of adult children ages 19 and 21 I have experienced the time of rebellion, questioned my effectiveness and skill at being a parent and I have experienced the unmatchable love of a parent for a child and experienced that love from my children. I have given my identity, my purpose and my self to being a parent and claimed my Self back again. Did I do it perfectly? Who knows? Was it worth it? Yes! Today, I find myself serving as mentor, teacher, friend and spiritual leader for children of all ages. There is a child in all of us to be nurtured, inspired and to learn from. It is my great joy to share the journey.
I like to focus my parenting classes and lessons on the parent rather than the child. There are many, many great books, programs and teachers to guide parents in using effective parenting tools with your child. My question is: “How is life for you as you “raise” these precious little people?” How is your life (as a parent) as your child mirrors your behavior, beliefs, attitudes and even habits back to you? Our children are our very best teacher because they give us the opportunity to look at ourselves, to experience how we are viewing the world and how we are participating in life! Sometimes that is a great big ugh! I do that, or a version of that? Really? And sometimes it is Yes! Life is beautiful and it shows!
Yes, our children are our greatest teacher and yet we have the very impressive task of raising them to be responsible, compassionate, contributing members of society. The life of a parent becomes a series of lessons in self reflection, self honesty and self responsibility. All practices that we model for our children and thus out of our own experience we teach.
What is this journey of life and parenthood but a time of self-discovery? As a parent, from that time (planned or a surprise), of finding out we will be a parent it is a time of immediate questions: what kind of parent will I be? How will my kid turn out? What preschool, public or private school, sports, college, career do I choose? What is best? And, how will I know?
There is one question that has served me well and that many parents have successfully utilized. It is the practice of being. When we ask ourselves: “how do I want to be” instead of “what do I want to do and how will I do it” we work from the inside out. Allowing the perfect action, the supportive words, the empowering response to be revealed. It is a practice to embrace and to become skilled at until it becomes a habit. Do I want to be suppressive? Do I want to be doubtful, do I want to judge? Will that empower me or my child? Will it harm or sustain our relationship? Do I want to be loving, kind, compassionate, a good listener, a sounding board…… Asking the being question might look like being creative before we step into our child’s room to wake them up for the fifth time that morning and singing, or describing a perfect day or telling them all the reasons we love them, or…… What if you know how you want to be before telling them no? No, they cannot go to the party after all because you have to work? If we can pause long enough to ask ourselves “how do I want to be” before responding to the rolling eyes, the turned back, or sarcastic attitude what will the relationship look like? Breathing and remembering our role as parent before looking at the report card that you already know is less than stellar and being the listener we might discover a challenge, a question, a fear that our child had not shared.
We want our children to be kind, be happy, be sincere, be themselves, be proud, be successful, and be the best they can be. Life is about being. How do you want to be as a parent? What will you model for your children? Life is lived from the inside out. When we know how we want to be the doing is revealed.
As a parent, I encourage you to be yourself. You know your answers, you know your challenges, and you know your strengths… I know who you are is more than enough!
About Pattie Mercado
“Let our children be seen and heard” is the motto of Pattie Mercado Youth Director and Practitioner at the Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley. With an infectious and creative energy that inspires and motivates, Pattie is consistently retained for mentoring youth and family programs all over the country and is passionate about empowering the family experience. A volunteer with youth and parents for more than twenty years Pattie draws on her experiences volunteering and working in California public schools, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, ten years of producing a summer co-op day camp and is a certified instructor recognized by the International Network for Children and Families. Pattie brings practical insight to her work with children, parents and volunteers.