A New Vision of Parenting
“We need to give birth to a new vision of parenting. This vision would be based on what we know about the special bond between parent and child, through which even ordinary communication is a sacrament. It would be based on the reverance for what our children can bring to us, as well as what we can bring to them. By their light, we see what is hurt and hidden within ourselves, and we open creatively to new ways of responding to problems. Through them, we understand that parenting is a spiritual process in which we get back tenfold the love we give.
There are very few models for this kind of parenting. All of us are pioneers. We must chart this new vision step by step in a spirit of humility, guided by our commitment to look within ourselves at our flawed perceptions, our ill will, and our pain. We know this is different from old models of parenting, which have been parent centered and based on the idea that the parent is a static figure, all-seeing and all-knowing. It is also different from newer models of parenting that are excessively child-centered and equally out of balance.
We are reaching toward a new model in which the parent-child relationship is at the center. The emphasis is on maintaining the quality of the relationship rather than serving the needs of one person at the expense of the other. It may not be obvious, but this is a profoundly sacred process.
A parent who teaches her child to be in such a relationship is teaching him to respect and honor all of life. She is teaching him that the high virtues of loving kindness and moral behavior are not separate from ordinary life. They are to be found within it in the imtimate relationships and everyday connections that give it substance…
Many of us parents are entranched in our own view of the world. We don’t think of our child-rearing problems as harbingers of healing. Often what we see is disrespectful, uncooperative children who make life difficult for us. But as we’ve seen, our children can be a light for us if we let them. Even when we are in conflict with them-perhaps especially then- children can give us information about ourselves that we can’t get any other way. We take a step toward conscious parenting when we understand how our painful moments with our children can become a road map for our own healing journey. Follow the map, and we don’t have to walk over the same broken ground over and over again. We can find a new path.
But we must be careful. Its appropriate for our children to show us where we need to heal, but not for us to expect them to become our working partners. They are absorbed in the full-time work of becoming themselves, unfolding their lives according to the inner directives they were born with. We must let them do their work. At the very least, we can adopt the physician’s dictum of primum non nocere (most important, do no harm). We can keep from interfering with their work while we move forward with our own.”
Except from “Giving the Love that Heals” by Harville Hendrix Ph.D and Helen Lakelly Hunt, Ph.D