By Ajeet Khalsa, Training Associate.
The Conscious Parent authored by Shefali Tsabary describes how parents can become more mindful of their interactions with their children. Ajeet provides us with some insights into how we can facilitate conscious interactions by using some of the basic principles of conscious parenting. She also gives us insights into how she was both very conscious of the parent’s situation, while also walking that fine line between empathy and sympathy. ———————————————————————————————
I was coming home from Nashville, after having an inspiring and impactful experience at the NAESP conference at the Opryland Hotel. Driving home, I was reflecting on all the trials I went through as my son was growing up’”primarily how the weight of parenting can be wearing, and how I was so far from being a perfect parent. So many conflicting needs ‘“ for me with my goals and daily life and for my child, with a different set of needs. In this mindset, I happened to stop at a mom and pop gas station where I see a woman that is obviously worn out, with her equally tired partner, with his head in the truck obviously frustrated.
Then, I did something that I felt was like watching myself in a movie.I said, ‘wait a minute,’ and went to my car to get the handout that I had received from the Center for Educational Improvement on Heart Beaming “Here,’ I said, “maybe you might like this for you and your daughter!” She took the booklet, and at the expense of feeling like I was handing out tracts, I said, there are lots of hand-drawn pictures, and your kids might like it. “Thanks”.
She left, I left, and I thought that was the end of it.
How do we reach out to her? Later on, as I was almost home, about an hour outside of town, I pull into a LOVE’s gas station for a snack. And there they are! Yup, the same couple. When we saw each other, it was so startling that I think we both looked away, astonished that we could have both been at the same place again. We both walked to the ladies room not saying anything, but once into the bathroom it was kind of hard not to notice as we were the only ones in there! We joked about being in the same place again, and she says ‘this is just plain weird!’ I couldn’t have agreed more. Without much to say, I told her safe travels again’”they obviously needed more water and both seemed even more agitated than before. I also felt like there was something there for the both of us (perhaps just a human connection), but whatever it was beyond our comprehension at the time. It was late, and my consciousness was getting a bit hazy. I just said goodbye.
What I take away from this experience is an understanding that this mom and mother-again-to-be is a regular parent in our public school system’…she is the ‘normal’ one; whereas I, giving away heart beaming pamphlets and staying in ‘Shefali Tsabary-heart’ space, hoping to beam out peace to those I interact with’”am the strange one. I think the most important thing to consider is not how do we change the equation, but how do we reach out to parents without implying that they are doing something wrong, or that we have all the answers?
I think conscious parenting is about meeting parents and people where they are in their lives and their experiences, and reaching out from there into the heart of the matter. Starting by listening, watching, and responding with care and attention will allow us to get down there into the dirt and begin to help lift them up.
Editor’s note: It’s hard to know what the most compassionate response is in a circumstance like this, but simply being conscious of what the other person might be experiencing is important. If you follow this by allowing yourself to feel empathy and be reflective, you might end up ‘connecting’ with the other. We never know when the small kindness, even the small kindness of a few empathic words, might be uplifting to another.