In this TEDxSF on Conscious Parenting, Shefali Tsabary Ph.D., gives a compelling and deeply stirring presentation on the importance of raising our children with awareness, attunement, respect and love. Dr. Tsabary, a clinical psychologist with a private practice in New York, begins her talk by sharing several powerful examples of the lifelong burdens many people carry, such as that of a grown man who asked her: “When will I ever meet my father’s expectations? Will I ever stop being a loser?” His father died many years ago.
In her appeal to us, her listeners, Dr. Tsabary discusses what can emotionally paralyze our children as well as what can enable a young person to be a thriving success. In the example above, this gentleman has “internalized” the words of his strict father who called him a “loser”. Rather than embracing a healthy voice for himself, this man only hears the negative words of his late father. This is tragic and yet it happens all the time.
Parents hold great power in a parent-child relationship and, to a great degree, determine the health, happiness, strength and well-being of their children. For this reason, Dr. Tsabary proposes that we occupy parenthood with heightened awareness, renewed curiosity and a transformed commitment. She believes that this could be the call to action that determines how a child thrives. She goes on to say that this is where global consciousness begins: with us and how we parent.
Sadly, research shows that one in five children in the United States shows signs of psychological disturbance. A UNICEF study shows our children, in the U.S., to be the second unhappiest children in the world. It is time, Dr. Tsabary urges, to sit up, pay attention, and raise our children differently. And where we hold the most power for progress in parent/child interaction is in the creation of nurturing relationships with our children. And to do this, we must start with ourselves.
The extent to which we know ourselves and become familiar with our own pain and inadequacies is the extent to which we can truly connect with our children. If we are not aware of our emotions and unhealthy thoughts, we will only project our own issues onto our children. Instead, it is time to “turn things around”. The extent, Dr. Tsabary proposes, to which we are able to know ourselves – the extent to which we are able to love deeply, laugh loudly, risk bravely and lose freely is the extent to which our children will know joy and freedom.
The time is now: to answer our call to our own awakening. It has been proven neurobiologically that creating attuned, nurturing relationships with our children determines their health and wellness – their ability to thrive in the world. And we can only create such relationships if we have attended to our own emotional pain. If we come from a place of inner lack, children will trigger our “buttons” all too often and healthy relationships will become impossible. We must let go of our need for “doing” – of pointing to external sources for happiness – and go inward instead. We must do our own healing work.
In closing, Dr. Tsabary states that it is time for parental evolution. Becoming compassionately conscious of our own selves and valuing our own growth and learning will be the solution. Our children need us to be mature, aware and present. Shall we begin today, in our own way, to be the leaders, mentors and parent figures we need to be in order to raise resilient, happy and healthy children?
You can view Dr. Tsabary’s TED Talk here:
For additional information on this very important topic, I recommend reading: The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary and Parenting from the Inside Out by Dan Siegel and Mary Hartzell. You can check out my review of her book here.