Connect to Your Child
Shefali Tsabury shows how with engaged presence we can forge an even greater connection with our children.
Many of us mistake the business of parenting— the cooking, homework, dropping off and picking up—with being “present”
for our children. Though we may be present for their material, physical, and even intellectual needs, this doesn’t mean we are present for their emotional and spiritual needs. Meeting our children’s need for connection requires a particular set of skills. It means we listen to our children, truly hearing what they are saying, without feeling we have to fix, correct, or lecture. To achieve this, we have to observe their body, including their gestures and energy.
Many of us have great trouble bringing our presence to our children. Without our realizing, we generally ask that our children relate to us and our state of being. Though we imagine we are engaging with our children, we are really forcing them to engage with us. To identify the way we subtly shift the energy to ourselves, instead of bringing our energy to our children, has the power to change a child’s life. When I ask parents who complain that their teens refuse to talk to them how they know this to be the case, they say something like, “He’s always watching television and won’t turn it off to talk to me.” Often the parent complains, “She is forever on the phone and won’t spend time with me.” Or I hear, “All he wants to do is play video games. I can’t stand video games. What am I supposed to do?” Then there’s the parent who bemoans the fact that “all she wants to do is talk about her favorite musicians, which is a topic I know nothing about.” In each of these situations, the parents want their teens to stop doing what they have learned to do with their time in the parent’s absence, and instead do what the parent wants them to do. It doesn’t occur to the parents to change their agenda and join their teens in whatever activity they may be enjoying - not necessarily because they enjoy the particular activity, but because they enjoy connecting with their teen. The role of a parent isn’t to dictate, but to support the development of a child’s inherent being. This is why, if we wish to connect with our children of any age group, we need to find a way to match their emotional energy. When we match our emotional energy to theirs, they are assured we aren’t preparing to strip them of their authenticity and in some way change them, which allows them to become receptive. Whether children are six or sixteen, they yearn to have a meaningful connection with their parents. If the relationship becomes about control, judgment, reprimands, lectures, and pressure, a child will turn a deaf ear. However, if the relationship is about autonomy, empowerment, kinship, emotional freedom, and authenticity, what child would reject their parents? Engaging our children consciously enables us to issue an open invitation, welcoming them in such a manner that they can’t help but feel they are being seen for who they are, free of our critique. The point is simply to convey the message, “I am here, available to be your witness.” Since to give our complete presence is all that’s required to raise an emotionally healthy child, some parents might think this means they should be with their children almost all the time. On the contrary, a conscious parent may be extremely busy, and our children need to respect this. However, during those times when we aren’t busy, can we allow ourselves to engage our children attentively? When we do so, they come to the realization, “I must be a worthy person because my mother and father have turned off their phones, stopped their work, and are now spending this undivided time with me.” >
8 The Green Parent "Engaging our children consciously enables us to issue an open invitation, welcoming them in such a manner that they can’t help but feel they are being seen for who they are, free of our critique."
The Green Parent 9