11 Guidelines for Spiritual Parenting

I was asked for some guidelines on spiritual parenting.  

Me and my kids, 2010.  

Here's what I picked up over the last 22 years (I just empty nested this year!).     

  1. Children grow up treating themselves - not the way you treat them - but by the way you treat yourself. So exercise good self care and boundaries, and this includes with your child!
  2. Tantrums are children's way of saying they aren't feeling seen or heard. Distractions aren't the answer.  
  3. When you try to "fix" them when they're anything but happy (i.e. crying, sad, frustrated, etc), you are letting them know that those emotions are not okay, and that you're not okay when they're feeling those feelings. Essentially, they won't feel seen. Sit with them. Hold the space for them instead. Live in the empathy. See them. You'll survive it. 
  4. We adults make lots of mistakes in our lives. Rather than trying to be a model of perfection, take this opportunity to show how you own your mistakes. Let them see you working to turn them around, and to self-forgive. Let them see you ask for help - not because you're charity, but because it's a human right. This is where" it takes a community" comes from.
  5. We can reduce how much we "mess up our children" by choosing our battles wisely (most of this is our own b.s. anyway). Only a few battles are worth fighting. With those, stay consistent. At the end of the day, they need to find their own expression, experience their own failure, create their own successes, and do it their way. We don't own them; we are their stewards. They don't owe us (our dream). They owe themselves theirs. 
  6. Give them choices. Like two (do you want the red one or the green one?). More than that is too much. Want a melt-down? Ask, which of these 20 colors would you like? Give them free choice while at the same time giving them the feeling that "my adult is taking care of me."
  7. There's rarely good reason to yell, except to say STOP! when they're about to cross a street without looking or stick a fork in a light socket. And since you never yell, when those times come, they'll hear you.
  8. Say what you want from them, not what you don't want from them. 
  9. At the end of the day, they need to know that no matter what, you love them unconditionally. Remember: Judgments build walls. Understanding builds bridges. 
  10. Rather than telling them right off the bat that you're proud of what they did, first ask them, "how do you feel about it?" Get them thinking about how they feel about themselves first before training them to look externally for validation. 
  11. Whether it's praise or "constructive criticism," provide feedback on their actions, not on their being. Actions can be changed. Their being is more permanent. By doing this, they'll know that when they make mistakes, it won't change their quality as a human.
    Rather than say, "Oh, you are so good!" say "I LOVE {what you did}!"
    Rather than say, you're wrong, you're messy, clumsy, you're better than that...  speak firmly and lovingly on how they might have thought through that one better. 

Me and my kids, 2020. 


It takes love, tears, laughter, prayers, miracles, and each other...

With Love, Grit, a lot of Grace, and Gratitude,


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