Child-rearing is a two-way street. We help our children learn, grow, become independent, but at the same time, they are teaching us too and making us grow and develop, not only as parents but also as human beings.
1. Expanding Skills and Knowledge
You probably had no idea how potty training works or when children learn to walk and talk until you become a parent. In a new role, we get to expand ourselves and acquire new skills: bedtime story reading, organizing play dates and birthday parties, learning about different educational approaches while looking for a kindergarten, making new parents friends, etc. On a more personal level, who we are as human beings get to include a completely new layer and depth. Are you ready to learn more and go deeper?
2. Facing Inner Child
Raising your own kid inevitably brings you back to your own childhood – the good and the bad. On one side we rediscover the beauty of playing, parks, swings, clay and finger painting, and on the other, we are confronted with all that we didn’t like about our early age, the things our parents didn’t do well, or even our deep-seated trauma. If you haven’t done it before, this is the moment to face it all, to nurture your inner child, to have certain conversations with your parents, or go into therapy. After all, we don’t want to pass on our pain and dysfunctional patterns to our children.
3. Shadow Work
No one can push your sensitive buttons so well as your children. It’s like they intuitively know where it hurts and how to get you to react. If you can be open in situations like these and look beyond, you are getting a great gift of taking a peek into your unconscious mind. Over the years I had so many fights with my daughter about keeping her room tidy. We managed to find some compromise, but it was much later when I realized that mess feeds into my own fears of losing control. Having organized space is my “survival” mechanism in a messy and unpredictable world. When a child challenges you, ask yourself: What is this showing me about myself? Why am I responding like this? What is beneath the surface?
4. Finding Inner Strength
I never knew I was able to handle so much before I had my daughter and had to face all the parenting challenges – from fever, tantrums, kindergarten adaptation… all the way to peer pressure, partying, first boyfriends, broken heart, etc. When you have a child you really need to be a grown-up! In every sense of that word. You start developing new abilities: patience, inner peace & calm, active listening, non-judgment, self-care, etc., as long as you are willing to do the inner work.
5. Discovering New Level of Love
We love our kids “to the moon and back”, “to bits”, we are “crazy” about them, we would do anything for them. If we are able to see that love includes not only care, support and understanding but also respect, freedom and letting go, we can get really close to the real unconditional love and build an amazing relationship with our children. We can even apply that understanding and openness to other relationships and improve them as well.
We often fail to recognize those teaching/learning moments with our children, as they tend to challenge us and push us out of our comfort zone. If we manage to keep an open mind and are willing to deal with discomfort and look deeper into ourselves, we can benefit enormously from our parental role.
About the author: Jelena Fu is an educator with extensive experience working in China in various fields of education. In addition to working in the classroom, she has designed curricula for different subjects and ages, held training for teachers and workshops for parents. She has been practicing and studying meditation for many years and wants to pass on her experience and the benefits of meditation to others. Her meditations on the Insight Timer app are very popular. She attended the TEDx Conference in Shanghai 2015, and regularly writes articles on education and parenting.