Lately I have been pondering what the deepest expression of parenting would be—especially in our complex digital world. A few days ago, Ali Valdez co-owner of Sattva Yoga and an amazing teacher, person, and mom, told us in class, “Take it to your deepest expression.” She made me think/feel/sense…what is my deepest expression for each yoga posture? Am I pushing too hard? Not enough? And then who is the “my” that is expressing right now?
As class progressed, I experimented, finally deciding that my deepest yoga expression is best captured in three essential qualities; the degree of my intentionality, effort (with ease, as we say at PCI), and another quality—hard to describe—but I recognize it when I feel/sense it, as an inner alignment with my integrity.
Since that yoga class I had occasion to coach several moms and as I was listening to all they were doing and trying to do for their children and their families, I realized that they were indeed parenting from, and with, their “deepest expression.” parenting.
Let’s see how intentionality, effort with ease, and alignment with integrity helped two moms make parenting decisions birthed from their core.
Certainly, when our parenting decisions come from our core, we can trust they will touch our children’s core as well.
“That’s absolutely, non-negotiable,” one mom told me as she explained her need to make family dinners, family time, as many nights as possible. Now challenged with sports practices and long working hours, she started thinking with the acumen of a General Patton, strategically planning what she will say, “No,” to in order to keep resolute with the “Yes” in her heart—making dinner with her children, talking with them over dinner, and enjoying an evening of fun time before bedtime.
I could relate. I grew up with plenty of chatter starting with the clatter of forks and spoons as we kids set the table, and ending with the washing and drying of dishes as we put everything away. During these two-three hours I learned so much chiming into conversations where my ideas were respected and considered important. I tried hard to do the same with my sons.
As I listened to this mom, I heard clearly her intention to make dinner time a priority, and as soon as I reflected her intention back to her, she started coming up with creative ideas. She exerted a lot of effort, yet there was ease about it all, too. Oh, yes, she knew this was going to be work to get everything arranged, but she didn’t mind. She was definitely parenting from her “deepest expression” and that anchored her in her values.
And although she knew she couldn’t have every night for family dinners, like she wanted, she realized that four nights a week kept her aligned with her integrity. That was enough to keep her going to make sure her family enjoyed time together, despite considerable obstacles.
Another mom had a struggle of a different sort. She longed for her thirteen-year-old son to stop playing violent video games. Because her husband thought games of torture, rape, and murder were “no big deal,” she was at her wit’s end to figure out what to do. In listening to her frustrations, I heard her deep desire to help her son learn healthier forms of amusement. In our discussion, she honed on her solid intention like a laser beam. From there, the hard work of figuring out what to do started.
Then the a-ha! She realized she wasn’t going to come up with “the answer” in our one-hour coaching session. This noble cause would take considerable effort, along with continuing dedication and perseverance. And she was all in. Her smile and shining eyes showed me there was going to be ease about all of this, despite the mountain ahead of her. She had made the fundamental decision to align with her integrity. It was downhill from here.
Moms and Dads know in their hearts what parenting from their deepest expression looks like.
The qualities of intention, effort with ease, and alignment with integrity may be something to observe. Or you may want to consider other qualities that you have cultivated over time that you know demonstrate you are truly parenting from your deepest expression.
However you approach this adventure, once you know what helps you deeply express and live from your highest (and deepest) values, you will have discovered an on-going treasure for your children and a safe harbor for yourself.
Copyright, Gloria DeGaetano, 2016. All rights reserved.