A handbook for parents, grandparents, and all who work with children.
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Conscious Parent, Conscious ChildRaising a Happy Confident Child Without Fear
By CAMILLE BROWNING
BALBOA PRESSCopyright © 2011 Camille Browning
All right reserved.
Chapter OneToday's Paradigm of Fear Changing It to Love
I was twenty-eight years old when I had my first child. I remember how excited but also how scared I was. Being a mom was what I had looked forward to since I was a child. It is what I always wanted to do. I had other dreams and hopes for myself, but marrying a good man, living in a big house, and raising a family was somehow prominent in my mind from an early age.
I did all the right things. I graduated from college, worked for a while, married a good man, got pregnant, gave up my job, and proceeded to read everything I could find about how to have the perfect pregnancy and birth, and how to be the perfect mom. Needless to say I would then have perfect children. After all, was that not my job, to see that my children had everything they needed to become, well, perfect?
I was not completely delusional. I knew I was not perfect. As I look back, I realize how inadequate I really felt. I suppose that is some of the reason I read everything I could find on pregnancy, birth, and parenting. I took it all to heart. I gave it my best shot. I did the very best I knew how.
I took it on as my job to not only teach my children everything they needed to do to be perfect human beings, but to protect them from the big bad world. I wanted them to avoid all the dangers out there. I started out by teaching them the dangers of getting run over by a car if they got in the street. "If you get in the street without looking, you'll get run over by a car." Then it went to food, drugs, and sex. "Junk food makes you sick and unhealthy. Drugs will ruin your life and kill you. If you don't learn to read and get a good education you won't be able to support yourself. Premarital sex causes disease and unhappiness. Marry the wrong person and you will be miserable the rest of your life." Was I not just teaching them the consequences of their actions? Was I not just protecting them from the bad things in the world?
Protecting them was another big responsibility I took on. I was hyper-vigilant. I vowed to be the mom who was always there. They would always be fed the best food. They would always be in my sight, so nothing bad would happen to them. Even though I perceived the world as a dangerous place, I had high hopes for my children. I just knew I could mold them into what I thought they should be.
Today, thirty-four years later, my children are grown, I have grandchildren, and I still have a very good man who has been by my side all these years, patiently watching my metamorphosis. Looking back, I see that my world view during those early years was one of fear. For the most part, our society is still one of fear. When we parent from a paradigm of fear, we instill fear into our children. The thing on which we put our focus, we attract to us, and we get that which we fear. Fear is the opposite of love. If the focus is on fear, love is pushed aside.
Did I love my children? Yes! I had the very best intentions in my parenting. I hope they know that they were loved. It is my hope, also, that they know that I did the very best I knew how.
I no longer beat myself up for my parenting choices. I have come too far in my own personal work to do that anymore, nor do I wallow in blame or guilt for not knowing any better at the time. In actuality, I did many things that absolutely assisted them in being happy productive adults today. Many things I would not change. However, I now look at my parenting from a new perspective. Remember again the words spoken by Dr. Angelou, "When you know better, you do better." Even though I cannot go back and do it better, this book is an attempt to help you do better, no matter where you are on your parenting journey. Taking a good look at ourselves with the intention to really see ourselves, not with judgement, but with awakened eyes, is a step toward conscious, joyful living. The intention of this book is to help you assist your child to live a conscious, joyful life. Because you cannot teach what you do not live, you must live consciously yourself to teach that to your child.
Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Also, it is a feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something and the likelihood of something unwelcome happening, a feeling of disquiet or apprehension and uneasiness. Synonyms of fear: terror, fright, horror, panic, agitation, trepidation, dread, dismay, anxiety, worry, unease, nervousness, and foreboding. I feel my energy level going down just writing these fear words. Negative words and emotions cause unhappiness, and even physical dis-ease.
I spent much of my childhood and adult life filled with fear. I was afraid of not being good enough or not smart enough. I was afraid my parents would not love me if I was not perfect. I was afraid I would make a mistake and go to hell and afraid God would be upset with me and not want me in heaven. I refrained from doing many things that I would have liked to do because I was afraid of what people would say, and I was afraid I would fail. I wanted to be a teacher, but I was afraid to take the classes in college that required me to get up in front of my peers. I was afraid that I would be tempted to have sex before I was married, so I did not date much. I was afraid my parents would not love me, so I did everything to please them. I was afraid of God, so I tried my very best to live all of what I thought were his commandments.
Many would say fear kept me out of a lot of trouble. Yes, it did. I am grateful that I avoided many of the pitfalls that I would probably still be living with had I taken a different path: addictions, sexual disease, teen pregnancy, and early marriage, to name a few. But I believe I did many good things for the wrong reasons. I believe a child can grow up and make good choices out of love instead of fear. Anyone who makes choices out of fear misses out on life. You cannot experience fear and love at the same time. They do not exist together.
Many people, especially in the Christian community, have the belief that we should fear God. It does say that in the Bible. Yet, also in the Bible, I John 4:18, it says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." Repeatedly in the Bible it is said that GOD IS LOVE. This says to me that fear and love cannot abide together. Many spiritual teachers today also teach that fear and love are exact opposites. Here are a few:
"Fear and love can never be experienced at the same time. It is always our choice as to which of these emotions we want ... Love, then, is letting go of fear." (Gerald Jampolsky, Love is Letting Go of Fear)
"Essentially there are two overriding emotions-love and fear. And those two emotional states cannot be experienced simultaneously ... You cannot have God and have fear too. Every fear represents a disbelief in God at that moment. Keep uppermost in mind these two observations. One from the scriptures, 'I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.'" (Wayne W. Dyer, There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem)
"Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here." (Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love)
My favorite teaching from the New Testament is II Timothy 1:7. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." This has become my mantra. I have it printed and posted on a wall in my home. It is my reminder to let go of my fears and to embrace love and real power which comes from God.
Many things in our society, indeed on our planet, illustrate how much fear rules our world. We have war because we fear we will lose our freedoms. We fear that we will be left powerless. We fear societies and nations who have beliefs other than ours. Jesus, as well as other great masters, taught love, not hate and fear. He taught peace, not war. Statements attributed to Jesus, such as "love one another" and "love your enemy," are throughout the New Testament and other works accredited to his teachings.
Look at the political arena. Most politicians do not talk much about anything positive. They spend much of their time pointing their finger and telling us why we should be afraid of what will happen if we vote for their opponent.
Our schools, for the most part, use fear to teach. Children are afraid to move out of their seats, afraid to speak, afraid to think for themselves, afraid of giving the wrong answer, afraid of making bad grades and failing, afraid of being scolded, corrected, criticized. There is even fear of death from guns. Have we become so afraid of everything that we have created a vicious cycle of fear creating fear? Have we become so focused on the violence, ignorance, and misbehavior, that we attract more violence, ignorance, and misbehavior?
Many parents have opted to home school. Home school can be an opportunity to teach from a basis of love. This can be a wonderful option. Sadly, many parents take their children out of public school out of fear, only to continue the fear-based thinking at home.
Drug addiction is another thing that we fear. We have even declared war on it! It is the same with many of the health issues of our day. Instead of a war on cancer, what would happen if we declared love on it?
Religion and church attendance can provide a community of brotherhood, friendship, social activities, and a means of service to others. It can also be a means of moral guidance, self betterment, and spiritual growth. Most religions talk of love. However, fear is often used in an effort to keep us safe and on a path of morality and goodness. Think back on the dictionary definition of fear: anxiety, apprehension, terror, fright, panic, worry, uneasiness, nervousness. God is not these things, but these things have crept into our churches. As fear creeps in, I believe that love creeps out. If God is love, does God creep out, too? However well intentioned a church is, fear-based religion creates more problems than it solves.
We have identified fear and considered what it creates in our lives, but let us not focus on fear. Let us turn our attention and focus toward what we really want more of: LOVE. Remember: we get more of that on which we focus.
There is the Native American story of two wolves. The grandfather told his grandson, "The battle is between two wolves inside of us all. One is FEAR. The other is LOVE." The grandson thought for a minute and then asked, "Which wolf wins?" The grandfather replied, "The one you feed."
"Eventually you will come to understand that love heals everything, and love is all there is." (Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul.)
Nelson Mandela quoted the following in his inaugural speech in 1994. It is one of the most inspiring statements of our day. It is from the book A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Is it possible to change the paradigm of fear to one of love? Is it possible to liberate ourselves from our fear? I believe that it is. Just imagine individuals, families, schools, churches, communities, governments, and nations operating from a paradigm of love. We can let go of fear and embrace love. When we let go of fear, what is left is love. Love is who we are. Love is all there is.
There are those in our educational communities who are living their lives from love and making a difference in their world. Montessori schools, which have sprung up around the country, seem to have let go of fear and figured out how to teach from a place of love. Their methods are used in private and public schools throughout the world. Marie Montessori wanted to make the world a better place by helping children to not only have more meaningful lives as children, but to help them contribute to humanity itself.
Another interesting approach to education is seen in a private school in Fairhope, Alabama, near Mobile. It is called The School of Organic Education and was founded in 1907. The premise of their methods is based on honoring and treating all children with respect and dignity. The first of three fundamental requisites for their teachers is that they love, understand, and are sincerely interested in children.
Look around you for examples of love in action. There are those in our schools, churches, and communities who operate from love instead of fear. The more you look, the more you will see.
Children See Love Because They ARE Love
A group of four to eight-year-old children were asked, "What does love mean?" The following are some of their answers:
"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love."
"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."
"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK."
"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day." Camille Browning
"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore."
"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night."
"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken."
"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford."
"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day."
"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross."
Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge to find the most caring child. The winner was a four-year-old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing. I just helped him cry."
Love is what these children were born with. They see love because they are love. Look deeply at your child. Look deeply at yourself. Love is there. When you see it and feel it, you begin to realize that LOVE really is ALL THERE IS. It is who we are.
Exercises For Creating New Parenting Patterns
At the end of each chapter will be exercises to help you create a new and better way to live the principles of conscious parenting. We must take steps to do things in a different way so that we can change our old patterns and old ways of doing things. I suggest journaling as a way to help you understand yourself and your journey with your child. Writing down your efforts will give you an increased understanding and a record of how you are doing for your reference.
1. List some of the fears you had as a child. Do you still have these or similar fears?
2. List ways you are currently parenting from your fears?
3. From the list in question 2 above, how can you change these fears to love?
4. Make a list of the love you see in your community, your child, and yourself.
5. Have a conversation with your child on what you have learned from chapter 1. Commit to them how you plan to be, with these new understandings.
Excerpted from Conscious Parent, Conscious Child by CAMILLE BROWNING Copyright © 2011 by Camille Browning. Excerpted by permission of BALBOA PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. Today's Paradigm of Fear Changing It to Love....................3
2. Becoming Conscious....................15
3. Finding Answers....................25
4. All Are Equal....................41
5. Stress in Children....................53
6. Who is Teaching Whom?....................73
8. Why Children Do What They Do....................89
9. Children of Divorce & Other Difficult Situations....................101
10. The Role of Parent....................113
13. Choice & Accountability....................151
14. Cause & Effect....................161
15. Abundance & Gratitude....................169
16. Health & Healing....................175
17. Harmony & Rhythm....................181
18. Another Chance....................187
19. A Bright Future....................195
A. A Letter to My Children....................203
B. A Letter to my Parents....................206