Accepting our children for who they bring with it another component: accepting the kind of parent
we need to be for a particular child. When I accepted that my daughter was way more street smart than I
had given her credit for, I was able to change my approach toward her. It was time to treat her as the
clever girl she was, instead of as the little Miss Innocent I had hoped she was going to be. Instead of
always being two steps behind her, which led to my resenting her ability to render me helpless, I learned
to think two steps ahead of her. She had always been able to outsmart me, and beginning to think two
steps ahead of her because I, at last, embraced how smart she was enabled me to avert her cleverness
showing up as manipulation. How thankful I am that I let go of my desire to be the parent of my fantasy
and instead became the parent my daughter needed me to be.
Our ability to accept our children is directly linked to our ability to accept ourselves—both as we are presently, and for what we have the potential to become. After all, how can we hope to raise our children to be freethinkers and free-spirited if we aren’t these things ourselves? How can we raise independent, autonomous children if we ourselves aren’t independent and autonomous? How can we raise another human being, another spirit, if our own being has been largely dismissed, our spirit systematically squelched?
It may be helpful for me to share with you some of the areas in which I am learning to accept myself:
I accept I am a human being before I am a parent
I accept I have limitations and many shortcomings, and this is okay
I accept I don’t always know the right way
I accept I am often ashamed to admit my own failings I accept I frequently lose my center worse than
my child ever does
I accept I can be selfish and unthinking in my dealings with my child
I accept I sometimes fumble and stumble as a parent
I accept I don’t always know how to respond to my child I accept that at times I say and do the wrong
the thing with my child
I accept that at times I’m too tired to be sane
I accept that at times I’m too preoccupied to be present for my child
I accept I am trying my best, and that this is good enough
I accept my imperfections and my imperfect life I accept my desire for power and control
I accept my ego
I accept my yearning for consciousness (even though I often sabotage myself when I am about to enter
When we are unable to accept our children, it’s because they open up old wounds in us, threatening some ego-attachment we are still holding onto. Unless we address why we can’t embrace our children for precisely who they are, we will forever either seek to mold, control and dominate them—or we will allow ourselves to be dominated by them.
It’s essential to realize that any barrier we experience when it comes to fully accepting our children originates in our own past conditioning. A parent who is unable to accept their own being in all its glory will never be able to accept their children. Acceptance of our children goes hand-in-hand with an acceptance of ourselves. Only to the degree that we honor ourselves will we honor our children. If we ourselves have somewhat of a victim mentality, we are likely to tell ourselves, “I accept my child is, and will always be, defiant.” This isn’t acceptance but resignation. Conversely, to have a victor mentality and tell ourselves, “I accept my child is a genius,” isn’t acceptance but grandiosity.
When we mold our children to meet our expectations, we resist who they are, which is to sow the seeds of dysfunction. In contrast, to accept our children for who they are at any given moment brings a feeling of release and inner spaciousness. No longer defining ourselves by our need for control, we enter into kinship. Beginning from where our children are, not from a place in our imagination, we are positioned to help them shape themselves in line with who they find themselves to be in their essence.
When I speak of who our children “find themselves to be,” it’s important to recognize that this is a fluid state. We forget that our children aren’t fixed entities, but ever-evolving beings who are constantly transforming themselves. If we are attached to our own sense of ourselves in a rigid way and fail to recognize ourselves as ever-evolving beings, we inevitably do the same with our children. We determine who they are, ego to ego, and respond to them in this stuck fashion. This is why we keep on making mistake after mistake. Most of us don’t even know who our children are right now, let alone allow their moment-by-moment newness to emerge.
To break free of stereotyping, you would have to truly enter the present and respond to your children with complete openness. You would need to ask yourself, “Do I really know who my child is? Can I create the space within myself to know my child each new day, one day to the next?” To do this would require becoming silent in your children’s presence, freeing yourself of all distractions, and attuning yourself to them in a state of curiosity and delight.