I don’t usually read parenting “advice” books, generally, because I no longer believe that you can learn how to be a parent by reading a book.
I once did, however.
And this is why I have read more parenting advice books than I care to admit.
I think I read them because part of my personality, the one which likes to be in control and make things more perfect told me it would be a good idea.
So, I read parenting advice books with my first child and early on with my second.
I didn’t read these books casually, no, no, no, that would be all too normal. I read them with notepads, highlighters and the same intensity I approached my breastfeeding logs as a first-time mom and my graduate studies years earlier. Seriously, Jessica? Yes, seriously.
Did it all work? Well, no. But as a new mom, I assumed the reason for this was me.
I’m not good at following directions, I rationalized. I’m not patient enough to follow all the obviously well-informed steps to reach the end-goals that all the experts (Karp, Pantley, Sears, etc.) promise.
So around the time my second daughter turned six months, I stopped reading them and decided to trust myself enough to parent my own children. I know. It sounds so novel, right? And it was novel and scary, like really scary. But over time it got easy and natural, so easy that I now hardly talk my parenting habits online or anywhere else. Because like most things in my life, they change. So I go with the flow and trust my instincts and that’s what I do as a parent. But I digress.
About the books… I was really passionate in my decision not to read them.
But then I heard about “The Conscious Parent.” It’s a book whose author, Shefali Tsabary, PhD was featured on one of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday (which, if you haven’t watched, is an amazing show).
It was then, or in watching that segment and subsequently in reading reviews on Amazon, that I decided to overturn my anti-parenting advice book stance and give it a try.
And when it arrived, I actually read it…all of it, with a pen in hand, marking meaningful passages that, honestly, spoke to my weary parenting soul.
I read it really fast once and then again and again. And I continue to refer to it in my daily life because it was really that good. Really.
“To become conscious is to witness our unconsciousness, which progressively makes it conscious.” Shefali Tsabary
So I wanted to write a review of the book. And I did write a review of the book THREE weeks ago. I kept editing that review, however, because I always felt I wasn’t getting this book right. I wasn’t doing it justice. There’s a lot in this book but its gist, in plain English, is simple.
The gist is this: In order to be the parents our children need us to be, we must be open to the possibility that as much as we, as parents, are here to teach our children, they are also here to teach us.
Parenthood then can be a time in our lives to become even better people than we were before. But, and this is the big but, this can only happen if allow ourselves to become conscious to how our unconscious operates in our day to day dealings with their children.
Our unconscious is what we’ve learned about being parent, how we were (or were not) parented. It’s complex, often, full of wounds, past hurts and anxieties. Our children often mirror these wounds, hurts, and anxieties for us which is why they are key to our own personal transformations and growth.
It’s only through becoming aware of our unconscious and how it comes to life in our parenting that we can truly parent our children effectively and with intention in the present moment. It’s only then that we can parent our children how they are rather than how we think they ought to be or how we think society expects them to be.
This is amazing, right? I mean, I think so.
There’s more in this book. There’s help for parents looking to explore their unconscious, talk of the role of disciplining, and lots of practical advice for parents with children at every stage (babies to teens).
So, I like this book. And I like that Tsabary’s approach to parenting is so refreshing and non-judgy. She’s a parent, too, so she includes lots of personal anecdotes from her parenting journey along with stories of clients so the book feels very human.
Have you read “The Conscious Parent”? What are your thoughts on this book?