Practicing Parents

Voice Within

lego movie

~ by Janet Trevino-Elizarraraz

We never ‘arrive’ in parenting. There’s an endless stream of questions we face when we’re in an ever-changing, dynamic relationship with such amazing, little people. What do I do about a child that expresses boredom, or how do I get my son to stop doing something undesirable?

In our world of excess, there’s an abundance of voices as well that speak to every situation in our life, promising the golden ticket out of our problems.

For the last 6 months, I’ve entered into a more specific way of parenting called unschooling, and like most parenting styles, it comes with its prescribed do’s and don’t’s. And with any path you chose, there are books to consult that help your family live out its values. Your friends and family nearest to you watch from the sidelines with either gently coaching ideas or screaming obscenities of how you’re screwing it all up! What’s a mom or a dad to do?

There are so many voices… all well-meaning but disconnected from your personal experience.

I’ve been spending a tremendous amount of energy trying to navigate through the voices because I believe that there’s wisdom in the hearing. I want to be that person able to listen, graciously and gratefully, and to ‘take what works, leave the rest,’ but somehow the grip of guilt and shame tightens when I’m not doing as they say. I put a wall up between us in taking another path – further isolating myself from others.

And what about my partner? I haven’t even mentioned him because for the most part, I’ve either neglected to ask him; in a rush, forgot; or purposely refused to because it’s enough work trying to live with all the voices above.  Can you imagine asking another person that actually has veto power over your decision – putting to waste all the preliminary work you’ve done? Not worth it! I sometimes think, he’ll catch up soon enough. LOL. I’m the one with the kids; I need an immediate solution as soon as I come to it.

This process has semi-worked for me up until now, and as my kids get older, have their peculiar needs, and mostly are looking to me still, thankfully, to be there for them, I have also began to look at myself.

They’re getting to that age where their ways resemble many of my ways – for better or for worse. When they do something I know would be sociably unacceptable, it’s because I have modeled that unknowingly. They are my walking mirrors of who I am! As I’ve accepted this concept, I am seeing myself more and more clearly, and I must say, it’s scary!

So interestingly enough, my parenting journey has taken me to going within instead of further seeking outside of myself. When I see undesirable behavior, I now take Jesus’ counsel seriously about taking the plank out of my own eyes! (Didn’t you think Jesus meant not to judge your kids either? Maybe!) What I see in them, is in me! Working on me first has been the greatest gift I could give my family.

One morning as this all came to a head, I sat at the center of what was a pinwheel of voices around me. The day started in a rush, and off we went to the first viewing of The Lego Movie. To my surprise, I encountered my dilemma on the wide screen! You see two major perspectives: those that have learned to follow instructions and delight working together for the communal good, and those that have learned to use their creative ability to create something out of nothing in opposition to the instructional way. A question the movie proposed was, do we follow the written instructions (of others) for our life or are we our own master builders? And in the end we find the beauty and harmony of both!

I know that I’ve been heavily focused outside myself for truth. It’s time to activate the master builder within and ask myself the questions that I usually seek for others to answer for me.

This process of accessing my inner Companion, Spirit’s, wisdom looks a lot like the following, and I admit that it can look different for each of us. When I’m tempted to seek outside of myself and ask a question, I write it down or pretend I’m about to post it on a social media site. I wait for a second imagining it being written by someone else, and I reread it. We all have fantastic advice we’d give others; what if we gave it to ourselves? Give yourself the opportunity to respond first from within – maybe it’ll make your own question clearer for you then to ask a trusted friend or online community or maybe you’ll get the answer yourself! In taking this approach, I’m less overwhelmed and can imagine being more open to hearing my partner’s valuable perspective.

And to my son’s comment that he’s bored? I, off the cuff, said to him that it’s because of his refusal to try new things, and he wants to stay home all the time. I stopped myself, and I asked within looking for that internal advice and found an even better response… truer even. He’s bored because he wants to spend time with me. He didn’t know how to ask directly, but it’s his invitation for me to get close. What’s more perfect than that?

It’s time to balance all the chatter and seek deeper connection with yourself and your family.

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