According to Google (yes I Google everything)…the Ego is defined as a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. Let me just preface by saying that, in the case of conscious parenting, ego is really about imposition of one’s own thoughts, ways, opinions on to a child. Just keep this in mind as you continue reading…
Parenting is always a battle between ego and the heart and soul. In the best interest of the child we always want to give the best, do the best, show the best. One thing I stop and ask myself is, is this what my little guy wants? We have all been brought up in various environments and cultures with different norms and values, which is based on where we lived, who raised us and what our own individual culture has taught us. What I have learned is that these influences impact our way of parenting. We have preconceived subconscious notions of how things must be. A few basic examples are… kids need to go to the top schools or they will fail in life, or kids need to be in every club or they won’t be successful in life. Part of this has to do with our own inner wants and needs and sometimes based on what we did not do or get in our childhood. It’s really important to keep this at the forefront when parenting and ask yourself is this what you want or need or is this your child’s want?
As I grow as a mama, I feel at times, I break the cultural norms of how I was raised and how I want to parent. This is simply because the world is evolving and things constantly change. I feel I am exposed to much more than would have been in the past with information at our fingertips. Its important for me to filter and know what works and what doesn’t for Mr. K. I definitely cannot buy into every research paper and every gluten free article and implement it with my little guy. But, it is my responsibility to know what is suitable and what isn’t for his best interest without my ego agenda getting in the way.
So what’s ego got to do with it? Here are a few examples…
Ego is the largest part of self that I feel is a barrier to my parenting. It is a natural part of me that wants to control situations, opinions or outcomes when it comes to Mr. K. For example, as a mama, when I know something is going wrong in a situation, I automatically want to correct the issue and jump on it, leaving little room for Mr. K to discover or make a mistake. There is that little part inside that knows I can protect the situation and Mr. K if I interject. This is very normal and yes, I do it, but in fact what I find myself doing is hindering Mr. K from his own self discovery and being his own little person. I may think that at the age of 4 Mr. K doesn’t know much but in fact, and to some extent, this might be true, but this little being does know more than I give him credit for. What I learned through this experience is that not everything has to be my way. I cannot always project or impose my thoughts or ways on Mr. K, as he should have the ability to be his own being (of course, unless the situation is dangerous). In addition to this, sometimes watching Mr. K teaches me a thing or two about how he handles a situation and about who he is.
Another example of this is, the famous question, what you want to be when you are older. I was brought up in an environment where being a doctor or lawyer was the only option and was seen as being in the top tier of professions. Clearly this impacts my thought process of what I want Mr. K to be when he grows up. Again, these are my projections and opinions based on my upbringing. So, when Mr. K says I want to be a toy maker, a part of me feels that its not good enough for Mr. K to be a toy maker and he should know better. What I realized is nothing at this age dictates what he will do when he is older except the fact that he is nurtured and loved so he can give the world the love it needs. Also, is being a toy maker wrong? Now, I let him explore and am more mindful of projecting my thoughts on Mr. K. This has allowed me to just enjoy the conversation and learn his ways of thinking by encouraging him to use his imagination.
Operating from a space of ego directly impact Mr. K as it limits him to see things in a certain way based on my perception. In addition to this, by imposing my views, I directly mould his thinking of how things should be and already help him form his opinions and hinder him from being his own little individual. Remember, they (our kids) live more in the now than we do. Kids are meant to be free spirited. For them the world is seen through the lens of limitlessness and expansiveness. Cultivating a space for Mr. K that is more open and free is something I try to do more of, now that I understand my ego a bit better.
As Dr. Shefali says, “parenting is tricky because we are tasked with being in charge but being in charge and providing guidance are two different things”. I suggest to stop and watch your kids as they figure out a challenging situation or navigate a conversation. Ask them questions, get curious about how they think, engage with them in their likes and dislikes. I am sure you will learn a lot and see they are pretty interesting creatures.
More to come on ego …part II and maybe part III