her non-verbal communication so clearly.
It was like she was speaking to me.
to give her the love, acceptance,
respect, admiration and
even worship that she deserved.
These ideas are a good start on the journey
to loving and accepting ourselves.
The more intimate a self-relationship we have
The more we’re able to offer love to others
And the more we increase our capacity to enjoy life.
How to Develop More Self-Love
I Love That Guy
Today I was talking to a friend and they had me on speakerphone
I heard the echo of my voice and told them so
“It’s no problem,
I love that guy,
he’s so beautiful”
It just came out of me!
That reaction comes from the Self-Love
and self-intimacy work that I do.
It was such a nice surprise to get from myself
My friend asked me for some tips
on how to develop a more
loving relationship with themselves
Here are some of the things I shared with them.
I hope they can be of some service to you.
1) Hug yourself like you’d hug a friend in need
Or a child that needs comforting.
Do it often.
Do it every day if you can.
When we can turn our love inwards
in a physical way
it affect our consciousness.
We can actually bypass the mind
and give ourselves the message that we’re loved.
2) Think of any good things you’ve done,
however small, and thank yourself for it.
Expressing gratitude to oneself is an uncommon act.
This acknowledgement reinforces
the notion that you’re worthy of love.
I just did it for myself as I am writing this
about something that happened this morning.
“Thank you Vivek for expressing your emotions so freely today.
I know it was vulnerable to do so and
I appreciate you taking the risk and being so open.”
It felt so good to receive that.
3) Observe the innocence of babies
and practice feeling that same innocence in your own heart.
This one can take time
because we’re quite far away from that state,
but it’s a beautiful feeling
once you can get a hold of it.
It is inside every one of us.
From the most violent criminal
to the most loving person,
we all have the same, pure spirit within.
Beyond our experiences, our trauma, our labels and self-identity
There is a wordless, idealess, painless wonder.
You don’t have to live there all the time,
but once in a while close your eyes and see if you can
feel that open and connected sense of yourself.
It is a very healing thing to do
and only takes a few seconds of inward attention.
Sometimes that can be more effective
than 2 hours of meditation!
4) Recognize that your errors, your faults and your pain
come from a desire to love, to serve and to be whole.
Sometimes we get caught up in
the struggle of life and
forget the reason we’re struggling.
This desire to love, to serve and to be whole
is in your core.
It springs from your essence.
Even when you act or react in ways you would rather not
at their root is the desire to love, to serve and to be whole.
Dig deep and find that inner motivation
when you feel like coming down on yourself.
For example, if I lose my temper when driving
(that’s one of my big ones)
I will often feel bad about myself.
Then I realize that I don’t like to be pushed around.
This comes from wanting to protect myself
because I was severely bullied when I was young.
My inner knowing is that no one should be bullied,
no one should be treated with anything but kindness
and I’m fighting against anything that threatens this.
Granted the method is often ineffective.
(due to my pain and triggers),
but the deeper motivation is one of purity.
When we can remember that
love is our root motivation
we can see ourselves as
a fundamentally loving being
and that feels nice.
These ideas are a good start on the journey
to loving and accepting ourselves.
The more intimate and loving a self-relationship we have
The more we’re able to offer love to others
And the more we increase our capacity to enjoy life.
When parents make
the decision to not punish
they deeply humanize their children.
Hanging Out with my Best Friend
My daughter is almost 19.
Today I was sitting with her on the couch, just hanging.
Suddenly I was overcome by the feeling of closeness that exists between us. I felt so grateful.
I realized that one reason for that closeness is
that I’ve never punished her for anything.
I feel very grateful for that.
I said that to her, that I was happy
I’d never punished her and she just said
It’s Never Too Late to Stop Punishing
Even if you’ve been punishing, it’s never too late to stop.
You’ll look back on the day you stop as one of the best moments of your life.
There are lots of resources on how to work with your kids without punishment.
It deepens your relationship with them and
is actually a much more effective way
to create harmony and cooperation in the home.
If you want some more detailed and personal guidance
contact me for a private lesson.
I call them lessons because I share ideas,
it’s you who has the joy and challenge to implement them!
The Gift of NO
Yesterday I asked my daughter
to get something from the car for me.
Her response was:
“No I don’t feel like it.”
Expressing my Gratitude
The next day I went to her in a quiet moment and I said:
“Hey kiddo I want you to know that
when you said no to me yesterday
and in fact every time you say no to me
I consider it a great gift.
It means you are listening to yourself
and honoring yourself.
I love it when you Honour Yourself
As your father, your friend
and your guide
this is the most important thing to me.
This is something I want you to
always pay attention to.
Because it means then that
you know yourself and love yourself.
What better gift could you give your dad?”
I could see that she was moved by this explanation.
This is an attitude I have
held with her from the very beginning.
She is almost 19 and I am still reinforcing this message.
She Feels Safe and Free
Knowing I feel this way allows her to
experience a deep trust and safety with me.
She knows she can be herself
and that I will love and accept her as she is.
This creates such a profound closeness between us.
That relationship is a priceless treasure!
There is a common question people ask
when I talk about supporting my daughter
in saying NO like this.
It is usually something like:
What about serving others?
What about family responsibility?
Aren’t you teaching her to think of herself first?
This is a natural way of looking at it.
This is not what happens though.
In order to understand it try and ask yourself
why you do good things?
Is it because you’ve been told to do good things by an authority figure?
Is it because you’re afraid what will happen to you if you don’t?
Or do you do good things because
it feels right?
It feels good?
Don’t you agree that, even when it really sucks,
when it hurts and is inconvenient…
doing the right thing just feels right,
and we know we really couldn’t have done anything else.
There are times when the right thing isn’t clear,
but when it is clear it’s best to follow it.
Inner Knowing is the Guide
It is this inner sense of rightness,
of knowing and of honouring
that we help develop in our kids
by honouring their NO as equal to their YES.
For only when we have
acceptance and intimacy with both,
when we fear neither,
can we truly hear what is
the right thing in this moment.
We will know when to serve
and we will also know when we need to
protect ourselves and step away.
We can hear the YES and the NO clearly.
When this skill is foundational
then service, responsibility, caring and generosity
arise naturally from the spirit within.
The Third Option
Taking care of herself
The other day I was at an event with my friend Tanya.
It was 3 hour silent dance experience.
It’s a pretty intense way to spend an afternoon.
She was telling me later that at first
she really felt like leaving.
She just didn’t want to be there,
it felt too much for her.
Leaving doesn’t work
Then she imagined what it would be like if she left.
She pictured that she would be going home
and collapsing on her couch.
There she would lay curled up
feeling kind of sorry for herself.
Staying doesn’t work
That didn’t seem so appealing to her
so instead she thought that she should
push through her insecurities and resistance.
Force herself to stay and join in with the group.
This felt inauthentic and equally unpleasant
as collapsing on her couch.
She felt trapped between these two choices,
neither one seeming very nourishing or enjoyable
and this was supposed to be a
nourishing and enjoyable dance event!
The third option inspiration
Suddenly it occurred to her that there was a third option.
She could stay in the event and also
honour what she was feeling.
So she stayed in the room with the rest of us,
but also spent a lot of time by herself observing.
By giving this permission to herself
she was able to relax and enjoy herself.
In fact by the end of the three hours
she had had a really good time.
I learn from my friends
This was such a good reminder for me.
Personally I love the concept of the third option.
Tanya demonstrated great skill in
thinking and feeling in a nonlinear way.
The trap of the false dichotomy
I also often find myself trapped between
two unpleasant choices.
This is known as a false dichotomy.
When I feel the tension or stress of
being locked in this way
I try and remember that there is
always a third option.
The third option is creative and non-linear
It can require some creative and
out of the box thinking in order to see it,
but I do believe it is always there.
When I put the effort into finding it
I am always greatly relieved.
It is like finding an alternative way out of the maze.
The third option in parenting
False dichotomies often appear in parenting.
This is one of the most useful places for us
to be aware of the third option.
A great example of where often
we can see only two options is
around the idea of authority.
My way or the highway
There is the traditional idea that
parents have to be an authority figure with their kids
or the kids will end up ruling the home
and the parent will lose all their power.
The problem with this is the whole idea of power rests on a hierarchical mindset and relationship. When parents
assume a position of authority, kids feel it and the relationship will suffer.
They end up losing a sense of their own power and autonomy.
They do not develop the most powerful connection
to their own independence and decision making abilities.
They also end up learning that their own ideas, feelings and intuitions are less valid and important than those of the authority figures in their lives.
I’m sure you can imagine the long term effects of this kind of self-concept.
This is also damaging for the parents because they set themselves apart from their children and this limits the closeness they can create.
Kids ruling the home
The other option is not any more pleasant.
Having kids that are out of control and
not cooperating in any way with the family unit
will make everyone’s lives miserable.
The parents will feel disempowered and learn to resent their children. I see this all the time in the stressed out parent. It feels like their children are obstacles to their freedom and happiness.
The kids themselves will not learn healthy ways to relate to others in this environment. Whether we have strict or uninvolved parents children and their family systems are going to have a hard time. Fortunately we’re not limited to those two options.
Seeking out the third option
There is a third option available here,
but it is not immediately obvious to see.
It can be even more difficult to implement.
Horizontal Power Sharing
Imagine a family community where
the authority and power was shared equally by all members.
This may seem like a wild and radical idea
when viewed from the traditional parenting mindset.
Changing your perspective
In order to implement this kind of relational dynamic with your children you would have to significantly alter
how you view them and
how you view yourself.
You would end up trusting them in a whole new way.
You would end up not always knowing what to do.
You would also end up not feeling in control much of the time.
We avoid the unknown
The unknown and the unfamiliar can feel quite scary.
In fact they can feel so scary that
the fear can make us run from a new idea.
This is one of the ways we miss the third option.
Unexpected and pleasant results
When you put the effort into creating a home
where power is shared equally
between parents and children
an amazing thing happens.
Power struggles decrease because
we all honour the power in each other.
If a young person feels their power is honoured
they do not have the same desire to fight for it.
Cooperation increases because we all feel the natural desire to
make the other feel good. When your children sense that
you trust and respect them as equals they are much more likely to keep their hearts open to you.
Other parenting false dichotomies
Here are a few other areas where it can seem like there are only two choices. Maybe give a few moments thought to each one and see if you can find the third option.
Engaging in this kind of mental exercise when nothing dramatic is happening can increase your ability to see the third option
when the chaos erupts.
(As it always does!)
1. My child is either obedient or disobedient
2. My child is either polite or talking back to me
3. My child says please and thank you or they have bad manners
4. My child has temper tantrums or they can control their emotions
5. If my child tells the truth I trust them more. If they lie to me I trust them less.
There are likely 100 more examples of this. You will probably notice one the moment you stop reading this blog!
The third option equals greater freedom
In all of our relationships, especially in parenting
and probably in just about everything we do,
if we can be aware of the third option it will help us to see different paths than the obvious ones set before us. We can be more open, creative and responsive.
The 4 Year Old Explorer
The beautiful chaos of 4 year olds
I was at a birthday party for a 4 year old last weekend.
There were little people running all over the place.
It was pure, joyous chaos.
I really love watching the incredible variety
that little ones have in their personalities.
I love watching the way they interact with their surroundings.
The way they explore and experiment
with everything they touch.
I love watching the many conflicts arise
and seeing the way they deal with them.
Observing the parents as well
I also enjoy watching the great variety of
parenting approaches that one inevitably sees
in a room full of kids and parents.
Although this can also be difficult for me
as I am quite biased in my preferred approach.
And that’s putting it mildly!
The impulse to experiment
At one point a cute little Explorer
went up to the sound system that was set up
and started touching buttons on the mixing board.
He ended up getting his hands on the
volume slider and in one quick motion
turned it all the way up.
The whole room was rocked
The music exploded out of the speakers
and everybody in the room jumped.
The kids all had looks of terror on their faces
and screamed wildly as they
ran into their parents arms.
It took a second or two for someone to run over and turn the music down. In that time kids were fairly traumatized.
That’ll teach him
There was a man sitting a couple chairs away from me
holding his 3 month old baby in his arms.
Throughout the afternoon I was enjoying watching
the tenderness between the two of them.
When this happened he turned to me and said
“That’ll teach him a lesson.”
I looked at him sideways and asked him
“What lesson exactly is that?”
He said “not to touch things when
you don’t know what they are.”
Are you sure?
I said to him
“Are you really sure that is the thing you
want to pass on to your kids?
That when they come upon something unfamiliar
they should avoid it for fear of
what the results will be?
Do you want them to be afraid to explore,
experiment and delve into the unknown?”
An unfamiliar response
I think he was taken aback by this
unexpected response to what probably
seemed like an obvious comment to him.
He grumbled a little bit and then said
“well ok, the lesson is if you don’t know
what something is ask someone else first.”
Are you Really Sure?
I asked him again
“Is that really the lesson
you want to give your kids?
That when they experience something unfamiliar,
before taking a chance and trying it,
before taking the risk that they might fail
and experimenting with it,
that they should ask someone else first?
It seems like that’s making them afraid to take risks
and try new things for fear of what
the consequences might be.”
This time he really grumbled and mumbled even.
He turned away and did his best to ignore me.
The friend I was sitting with asked me
how I would have dealt with it
if my kid did the same thing and then ran into my arms?
Empathy Empathy Empathy
I would start empathizing with the little one
as they would be full of tension and fear at that moment.
I would say something like “It’s okay my darling,
I know it was scary. I felt scared too.”
I would hold them close and do whatever I could
to make them feel loved and safe.
Accentuating the positive
Once I fell that their vibration
had calmed down enough
I would express to them how I
admired their willingness to
experiment with something new.
I think it’s really wonderful the way you
wanted to test what all the buttons
on that mixing board did.
Encouraging further exploration
I know that it was scary when the music got louder,
but that is what happens sometimes
when we try new things.
Sometimes they don’t go how
we expect and that’s awesome.
The main thing is that you tried
and that’s what’s important.
I think that is such a wonderful part of who you are
and I always want you to feel free and safe
to try new things like that.
I will always be here to support you and
love you no matter what happens.
Why don’t we go to the mixing board
and take another look at what all the buttons do.
We can play with the volume slider
that you so bravely pushed all the way up
and see how it affects
the loudness of the music.”
Then I would go over there with them
and make a fun experience of playing with
as many buttons sliders and knobs as I could.
Empathize, Validate, Take Action
The process of empathizing, validating
and then following up with action is so important.
It helps kids process their experiences
in a deep and holistic way.
My own comfort with the unknown
The other learning for me from this experience
is to recognize that the message this father
instinctively wanted to give to
his kids is extremely common.
This means it is very likely
deeply inside of me as well.
I know that I have many fears programmed into me.
Fears that stop me from
venturing into the unknown at times.
I can feel it in my mind and heart
when I am faced with the unknown.
Holding myself back
Afraid to fail
Sometimes I have to really push myself
to do something that seems scary,
where I have the potential to fail.
It’s like I don’t want to take the chance
of having the music be really loud
because I wasn’t given that kind of
validation and encouragement.
Deprogram and Reprogram
So now I have the opportunity to
deprogram and reprogram myself.
To give myself that same empathy,
validation and follow through with action.
The more I do this, the more I will be free
to engage in the unfamiliar.
The more free I feel
the more I will be able to
pass that freedom on to my daughter.
Teach Children to Embrace their Mistakes
Road Trip With Good Friends
A couple weeks ago I was on a road trip with some good friends.
We went to Buffalo for a dance workshop
and we all had a really good time.
Making a Mistake
On the way home I was given the task of navigating.
We were a bit behind schedule and the drive
was taking longer than expected.
At one point I got a little confused and
wasn’t sure exactly where we were going.
On top of that the settings had changed in the GPS
on my phone and it was giving me some bad advice!
I made an error and we ended up taking a wrong turn.
Fear Took Over
Immediately my whole body tensed up
and I became afraid.
I felt that the driver was going to get angry and
he was going to yell at me.
I also thought that the other passengers
were going to complain and think badly of me.
I felt like they wouldn’t like me and
wouldn’t want to be my friends.
I felt small, unworthy of friendship
and separate from the group.
All of this flashed through my mind and heart
in a space of a couple of seconds.
It was my all-consuming reality at that moment.
Reality Didn’t Match My Fearful Expectations
The real realty however was quite different.
Nobody made the slightest remark
about my error in directions.
The driver didn’t seem to be upset in the slightest.
Everyone continued to just laugh, joke
and talk as we had been
and just waited for me
to tell them which way to turn to get back on track.
In that moment I realized how
deep that reaction was and
how separate from my present reality it was.
These people are my Friends and they Love me
They didn’t care that I made a mistake.
It took me a couple of minutes to take all of this in.
I had to look into each of their eyes
and feel the love in their voices
before I could really believe
that they weren’t upset with me.
Receiving Love and Empathy
After some time has passed and I relaxed a little bit
I shared this experience with them.
The outpouring of love and empathy from them
was quite beautiful and it reinforced the fact
that they really do love and accept me.
Childhood Wounds Run Deep
This experience shows me how deep the
wounds of my childhood go.
The fear of being seen as less worthy of
love and acceptance for having made a mistake
is powerful within me.
I know it affects every aspect of my life.
It affects my decision making,
my friendships and
my willingness to take risks.
Much of the inner work that I do is geared towards
healing these fear based wounds and self-concepts
so I can believe that I am worth friendship and love.
Intellectually I know I am
and compared to myself a number of years ago
I’m so much better in this regard.
Yet the residue of my painful past lingers.
Setting parenting priorities around
acceptance and a positive attitude towards mistakes
As a parent this has always been
one of my primary areas of focus.
To make sure that my daughter knows that she is
unconditionally worthy of love, respect,
acceptance and friendship.
I wanted her to know that making mistakes
does not diminish her worth in any way.
Putting this into practice is
an intense and powerful thing
It means that I have had to watch my reaction
every time she makes what I consider a mistake.
Mistakes are to be learned from.
Mistakes are to be celebrated.
Mistakes are to be explored.
Mistakes are to be embraced.
Mistakes are to be made over
and over and over again.
Mistakes are to be made fearlessly.
Responding in a consistently positive manner
Mistakes are not to be punished in any way.
They are not to be a source of disapproval in any way.
There could not even be an expectation that
she would only make a mistake once,
learn from it and then never make it again!
Let us raise our children to embrace their mistakes
Imagine if we could raise our kids to
truly embrace their own mistakes
and use them as the wonderful learning
opportunities that they are.
Imagine if we could raise our kids to believe
that making mistakes does not diminish them in any way.
This would be a huge leap forward in their development.
It would give them a power and strength
that could last their whole lives and
allow them to follow their dreams.
It’s Hard To Give What We Didn’t Receive
The hard part is most of us were
not given that kind of completely open support
when making mistakes.
We were punished and given consequences.
Some of us were hit
and most of us at least received disapproval.
Certainly we did not experience
true celebration of mistakes
on a consistent basis.
Reprogramming Our Own Relationship to Mistakes
Therefore in order for us to do this for our children
it requires a significant rewiring of our brains
so that we can see mistakes in a totally new way.
In order for it to be really effective
we have to do this for ourselves and our children
at the same time.
Loving and accepting ourselves more
so we can love and accept our kids more.
The Challenge of Authenticity
Showing My Whole Self
Authenticity is challenging.
When I am authentic with somebody
I am exposing a deep vulnerability.
I can’t be authentic without showing
the Yin and the Yang of who I am.
If I leave out either
I am hiding myself.
Therefore it seems the degree of my authenticity
is the degree to which I’m willing to expose
both the darkness and the light of my being.
It’s bloody scary!
That’s why it’s a challenge.
That’s why authenticity is a warrior’s path.
The Payoff is Huge
And yet when I do achieve a deeper level
of authenticity and vulnerability with someone,
while it may be scary, it is also deeply fulfilling.
Almost like nothing else can be fulfilling.
Perhaps this is because these are moments
when I’m truly introduced to myself.
I see myself face to face.
And this gives me the opportunity
to really love myself.
Clearly there are a lot of benefits
to having the courage to be authentic.
I do my best to seek out deeper levels
of authenticity than I am presently able to access.
The Danger Of Being Authentic Is Very Real
The thing is though, the danger is very real
because I have genuinely been hurt in the past
for being vulnerable.
I have being betrayed.
The sting of those experiences is still with me
and makes me hesitate, makes me protect myself.
This is why authenticity is a process
and not simply a one-time decision or experience.
Raising Authentic Children
As I often do, I want to relate this concept to parenting.
I recognized early on how much I had to
fight myself and the world to be authentic.
Well maybe I didn’t have to fight the world,
but I did feel I had to fight
my version of the world
or perhaps my perception of the world.
In any case this is the belief system I had
and it played out in my life.
Recognizing that was the case for me,
I wanted the opposite from my daughter.
I wanted her to feel that
her authentic self is
completely natural and accepted.
Then it wouldn’t feel like a weakness or a risk,
but it would seem like her very core,
her strength, the very existence of who she is.
This has been a central theme in
my parenting investigations.
How can I make it feel safe and strong
for my daughter to be authentic.
Protecting Her Authenticity
I recognize that a certain amount of authenticity
diminishes over time with painful
experiences that all of us experience in life.
I believe though, that we can minimize that damage
and allow a deeper level of authenticity to be
fostered in our children than we ever had access to.
Isn’t that what evolution,
conscious evolution is about?
Helping the next generation
be greater than we ever were.
Conscious parenting isn’t easy.
There’s always a dual process occurring.
On the one hand we are trying to foster
powerful qualities in our children.
On the other hand we realize that
we must be working on those very things
in our own lives if we are
going to pass them on effectively.
Its looking inward and
looking outward simultaneously.
Quite a wonderful skill to practice
and a beautiful opportunity to practice it
Found In Your Body
A Journey Within
This past week I attended 5 day
dance intensive workshop
in Buffalo, New York.
The teacher was Alicia Grayson.
She was a masterful facilitator.
She led us brilliantly through a journey
deep into our bodies,
into our hearts and
into the dance.
A Moment of Quiet Connection
One day during lunch I was chatting with her
about a particularly intense dance that I had.
I was describing how I was able to quiet my mind
and let go of the noise that usually
keeps me from deep connection.
I said to her,
“I got lost in my body.”
“Actually Vivek, you got found in your body.”
This change in perspective dramatically altered
the way I thought about my experience.
I realized that my natural state IS being deeply connected.
Being trapped in a world of
thoughts and disconnection
is not who I am in my essence.
And yet I have become so normalized to
the idea of being disconnected from my body
I considered that state as natural.
When my mind was quiet and
I was fully in the dance
I considered it being lost.
Language Reveals Our Feelings
One might argue that it was simply
a common phrase we use,
but I believe that the language we choose
reflects the perspective and feelings we have.
Alicia pointed out that in fact this deep dance
was me finding myself,
finding my truth,
finding my nature.
She didn’t actually use all those words.
She simply said “you were found in your body.”
Great Teachers Introduce Us to Ourselves
As all great teachers do,
she touched me with a magical moment,
allowed me the freedom to process it
and draw my own conclusions.
One of the things I enjoyed most about her teaching
was that she seemed to really believe in each of us.
She knew that we had our own innate wisdom
in our bodies and in our hearts.
She was only working to put us in touch with it.
Children are Naturally Wise and Connected
When we are first born our entire reality is
centered in our bodies and in our connection
to our mother’s body.
There is a wisdom, a love and
a sense of connection
that is natural and essential to who we are.
Disconnection is an Effect of Growing Up
As we enter the world more and more
we are drawn into our heads,
into society and customs.
We are wounded, criticized
and betrayed on a regular basis.
We become distanced from the
innate wisdom that we have inside.
It gets replaced with fear and trauma based reactions.
We rely on manipulation of ourselves and
others to get what we think we want.
We end up believing that
punishment and struggle
are normal, natural and our lot in life.
A Message of Freedom For Me and My Kid
This is not the message I want to hold in my heart.
Nor is it the message I want to pass on to my daughter.
I want us both to know that
all the wisdom and love of the universe
is available to us within our hearts
at this very moment and every moment.
I want us both to believe that
trust and intimacy with others is possible,
beautiful and worth the risk.
I want us both to feel the beauty and joy
of connection with our bodies and nature.
And I want us both to know that all of this
is natural and normal
not the exception.
This is the foundation of my self-development
and spirituality work as well as
the essence of my parenting philosophy.
Rejecting my position as an authority figure
Yesterday I spent the whole day with my daughter.
We drove around doing errands and some shopping.
A Relationship Filled With Ease
The whole time we had a natural
rhythm to our conversation.
There was an ease in our interaction.
There was a mutual care for each other’s well-being.
There was lots of fun and laughter.
My kid is now 18 and a half years old.
Having this kind of relationship with her
is probably the most valuable thing in my life.
It fills me with so much joy.
Feeling Deep Gratitude
When we got home in the evening
I reflected on our time together.
I felt so grateful.
Relating As Equals
The quality of our relationship has developed
and deepened over the years.
One of the main reasons we are so close
is because I have always worked hard
to not hold any authority over my daughter.
We relate to each other with
no hierarchical separation between us.
The idea of authority is one thing I was
very careful about as my daughter was growing up.
I Refused to be an Authority Figure in her life
I chose to be a friend,
a willing student…
In our interaction yesterday
I could really see the effects of this.
She felt she could be herself
She knows she doesn’t have to
act a certain way to gain my approval.
This is one of the main messages
I have always worked at making sure she knew,
that I accepted her unconditionally.
I accept all of who she is.
The light and the dark.
I did my best to be a good friend to her.
Though I focused on
friendship based parenting
I am still her dad.
Being a friend does not mean
I abandoned my role as a father.
I am a source of wisdom and comfort for her.
I am a foundation of safety and strength that she knows she can rely on.
She comes to me for counsel when she is unsure about a big decision.
I don’t make the decision for her.
Instead I offer her things to think about when making the decision.
I also stand by her regardless of the decision she makes.
The beautiful thing is that, in her way
she does all these things for me as well.
We are learning partners.
She knows I listen to her and respect her
At one point yesterday we were speaking to someone
and they mentioned that they don’t always
take what teens say seriously.
I said that I always listen to teens.
My daughter spoke up and said:
“Well I’m the main teen you interact with and you always listen to me.”
This showed me how deeply she feels my respect.
I was calm on the outside, but jumping up and down with joy on the inside.
Parenting as equals is a tremendous challenge
It hasn’t always been easy,
parenting without authority.
To parent as an equal.
To always use communication instead of control.
So much of my programming goes against it.
Both my personal experience as a kid,
as well as generations societal norms
around how to treat kids.
It can be a constant inner battle
to do things that are so against the grain.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.