Author Archive for Sandra Fazio

Thoughts On Raising A “Strong-Willed” Child And …

 Thoughts On Raising A “Strong-Willed” Child …. how we choose to accept our children for who they are, separate from our ego.

Over the course of my daughter’s four short years of life, I have undoubtedly called / labeled her “strong-willed”. I find I do so when she inserts her will, her voice and her way. Am I alone, I venture to say I’m not. Why? Because as parents when our child projects their will onto us we naturally (get triggered) and become defensive and sometimes feel powerless. We lash out with our roaring egos of power, control and authority and unconsciously break the spirit of our children when all they are doing is showing us who they are at their core. We call it “defiance, manipulation, bad behavior, strong-willed and stubborn”. We insert our will right back and show them “who’s boss”. Our body language reflects it. Our tone of voice commands it. Our behavior mimics it as our own inner-child (tantrum) shows up. We don’t like the way it feels, we are the ones that are most uncomfortable and we want to control the situation so these feelings go away (for us). And so it goes … the vicious cycle and patterns our children learn to navigate through and ultimately protect themselves from (hence the creation of their ego) which shields their authenticity.

Does this sound at all familiar to you? The latter are very common behaviors that reflect a thread through that of traditional parenting. Yet the teachings of conscious parenting that Dr. Shefali Tsabary so brilliantly reminds us of is anything but from this mindset. Instead, conscious parenting asks us to pause, give space to that “feeling” we are having and find the lesson to be learned in that moment that our child is bringing to us. Conscious parenting invites us to accept our children for who they are but only when we can accept ourselves first. And it brings forth the opportunity to ask “what about this moment is triggering me, is mine to own and not my child’s to receive”?

I continue to hold gratitude in my heart for these wonderful reminders that I have been embracing (over the past year) and had I not opened my heart and mind to taking a more conscious parenting approach with my child, I believe my parenting journey would have brought upon more (power) struggles for both of us.

Nevertheless, I believe we all have a strong-willed fiber within us and we have the ability to view this from a positive (engaging) vantage point as opposed to a negative (disengaging) one. Through generations, we have been conditioned to mask our feelings, emotions and all that lies at the root of our being. We have been made to believe that it is “bad” to speak up, say how we feel, stand for what we believe, disagree with others. We have been “shut up”, ignored, made to feel less than and ultimately distrusting of our inner voice. So when our children reflect to us their “strong will”, we automatically label it is  as “wrong and unacceptable”. Here in lies the reality – our child’s strong-will is part of their authentic being, just as it is ours, and comes without any intention or malice to do or be wrongful. They are showing up as they are and if we don’t stay mindful their spirit can quickly turn into “ego” form (just as it has for us) and the unconscious pattern will carry on.

So how does one parent a strong-willed child with a more conscious mindset? I offer no perfect strategy however  I have discovered a few ways that have worked for us, all while incorporating a conscious parent approach, that you may find helpful too:

  1. When she does not back down and wants what she wants … I  attune to the situation at hand and ask myself “Is that she wants an unreasonable request?” “Is her demand going against my agenda / need?” “Is this a teachable moment for both us to connect better and allow me to help her better understand the boundaries / limits”?
  2. When she continues to negotiate … I listen to her request and allow her to share her point of view / reasoning for (this provides empowerment and the ability to trust that her inner voice matters and counts).
  3. When she doesn’t accept or do something I am asking of her (e.g. need her willingness / cooperation) … I look at the situation at hand and look for the “why”. Is it because of my approach, or that she is not focused on what I am saying? Do I need to connect better with her (eye-to-eye) and to get her attention? Am I stressing out and expecting her to meet my agenda / needs without any compassion for what she is doing in that moment?
  4. When she talks back, raises her voice and gets in one of her “moods” … I look at what is it about my child’s behavior is mirroring back to me to learn. Is she doing what I do at times? Is she trying to tell me through her actions that she is needing more connection and or space?

By nature, parenting is not easy and I don’t believe the intention to become parents through the Divine work of The Universe was ever meant to be easy. What I have found so bitterly sweet is how the child we receive to nurture, love, guide, protect and teach ultimately becomes our greatest teacher in which we learn how to grow more deeply, intimately and vulnerably within ourselves – and what a beautiful gift we are given for our continued self-growth.

Long live the strong-willed ….

 

from The Conscious Parent Blog.

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How Fear Can Paralyze You If You Let It

Photo Credit: BK, Flickr.com

Photo Credit: BK, Flickr.com

I stayed in a career for 20 years because of my fear of changing & doing what I love doing which I had lost sight of plenty of times but it never lost touch in me. However, after my daughter turned one, I consciously left my six-figure career 3 years ago with fear of so much (fear of what if, fear of money, fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of not having control, fear of not being accepted for my decision). But you know what I knew for sure, I trusted my decision at the core of my being. I knew that being a stay-at-home-mom was where I needed my energies to be most. And ultimately through my daughter’s birth & all she has taught me, I was brought full circle, through The Universe, supporting my decision to do my life’s work both as a mom & life / parent coach & now blogging & serving others through my journey and helping them grow through theirs.

Rewind to the year my daughter was born (2011), I knew from that moment I was going to create and invite the opportunity for greater self -evolution. I was no longer going to allow the battle of the minds (so-speak) but instead I was going to manifest and put out into The Universe my desire to be at home with my daughter – pay heed and receive it in its due time. That September, my husband and I had a “meeting of the minds” (Labor Day weekend) to be exact and we discussed the “how to” plan so I could be a SAHM. Bottom line, we looked at everything from our finances, to our current situation to aligning our values (which we were already very much on the same page) and our understanding of what was going to need to change in order to make this happen. We literally created a “power-point” action plan. Then that December, just three months after I let go and let God, I had a call with my boss at the time and within that conversation when she shared much of what was going to “need” to happen the following year (from a sales perspective, travel requirements, etc) and I knew that this was my official sign from The Universe and my moment for departure. I was no longer going to serve a career that did not fulfill my inner being. I was not going to be “that mom” who came home from work – bitter, frustrated, worn-out all because it paid great. The cost was TOO HIGH for me to stay as opposed for me to leave.

After my call with my then boss, I called my husband and told him today is the day that I am giving my notice this week. Over the next five days, I called everyone one of our bill payers (reduced our bills where I could) and ended up saving us $500 per month (which although this was minimal compared to what I was making, it was a good determined start). Three years later, and through my conscious parenting journey, blogging, coaching, etc , God is providing me with many ways to earn an income again and doing the work I love and was called here to do.

So if this resonates with you in some capacity, I encourage you to take the steps, think through the process, lay out the plan, garner the support, be honest with yourself and follow your life’s path. You, your family and your children will all be better for it. I truly and whole-heartedly believe that God always provides. It may not be in the immediate way we perceive it or fantasize about but He provides in many others ways (money is the bonus) including our spiritual and emotional health being at the helm of the true value with bring into our lives and our children’s.

The transformation I’ve personally made plowing through fears & still plowing through them has been liberating & I think “what if” I never embarked upon my journey because of fear, I would not be here in this moment & what a disservice that would have been to myself, my daughter / family & others. This path & process to consciousness has allowed me to truly tap in, honor & trust my voice. I accept that as part of this ever-evolving journey, have a lot of self-talks and move through it. I look back at some of the fears I’ve come through & let them empower me for those that continue to arise.

What fears are holding you back from stepping into your true essence? 

How can you create more space to allow the organic flow for what is naturally ready to bare fruit in your light?

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The Essence of Conscious Parenting

Photo Credit:  ann_jutatip, Flickr.com

Photo Credit: ann_jutatip, Flickr.com

When we desire the thought of having children and then the Universe fulfills our wishes, most of us don’t realize the full commitment it takes in raising them after they are brought into this world. We talk about our desires so freely, scripting the play-by-play on how it will look and be once we have them. We have already planned out all of their years and framed them accordingly to meet our standards. They will do this and be that, they will do as I say (not as I do), they will know who’s boss and know their place, they will listen when I speak, they will not talk back, they will not be like the next door neighbor’s child, they will be better, more and the list goes on.

Anyone with a child (whether a parent, care-taker, guardian), knows these egoic patterned thoughts and beliefs all too well if they are willing to admit it. Yet, most don’t – for fear of shame, guilt, lack of acceptance, judgment and caring what other people think.

What I absolutely love, admire and respect about the brilliant work of Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent, is her matter-of-fact yet authentic, truthful and insightful approach to how parents have been doing it all along from the conventional parental hierarchy mindset to a more conscious-minded parental approach – and how with just a shift in consciousness and more inner connectivity to ourselves, we have the power and the ability to recognize and to transform these patterned beliefs into empowering and life-changing ones, both for ourselves and ultimately for the benefit of our children.

So when our children are brought to us, we need to raise our level of consciousness to new heights to meet them where they are and what they have come here to teach us. We must release the grip on our ego and embrace our child’s essence, all while tapping into our own. It’s no longer about the wish but now about truly facing the raw reality and messages that our children have come to deliver.

Through our full on presence, daily connection – emotionally, physically and spiritually, our children’s presence awakens us to the core of our being (if we so let them) and to the point that we experience our own re-birthing, attending to the inner child within that was left behind for so many years. The inner child that needed the attention, validation, acceptance, love, connection – yet through life’s peaks and valleys – that child was no longer nurtured, covering its head and heart so it didn’t have to bare the pain any longer. That pain can remain sedentary for years and manifest through ones actions, behaviors, emotions, thoughts until one day it cries for help. It is through the practice of conscious parenting that we are given a gift to nurture and connect to our inner child so we heal those wounds and in turn what we ultimately project outwardly to our children is that of wholeness and abundance – allowing them to lead an authentic life that is true to their own essence and being.

So with each day, each new sunrise, and through the daily awareness of your own self, you will come to see your children not as an extension of you but as their own being?

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Creating Healthy Boundaries for Ourselves and our Children

Mom and ToddlerI have always believed and subscribed to the thought that firm boundaries are an important aspect of life. Setting boundaries allow us to designate where our limits are and are not to be crossed. This can apply to all areas of our life – from children, relationships (family & friends), work environment to behaviors/tolerances, respect, acceptances and everyday encounters in today’s world.

If we have outlined healthy boundaries for ourselves and our lives, it goes without saying that these boundaries will translate easily for us as parents to our children and show up significantly in their lives too. But if we have not then much consideration to incorporating firm boundaries into your family dynamics is a must (in my opinion). Between my husband and I – I am definitely more of the one to set the boundaries for our little one. And as we know our different strengths as parents, the “laying of the land” usually falls more comfortably into my hands by default. This has definitely been one area in our daughter’s growth and development that continues to be “tried and tested” and it has come with many deep breaths, tears, upsets and gray-hairs to say the least but we have seen some significant changes recently and for her too. What I have learned in the little 3.5-years of her life and through my own parenting approach is that in order to create an effective outcome from the boundaries that are being set, I must continue to stay conscious of my “presentation” in communicating them to her so that she learns them with as little “noise” as possible coming from me – like frustration, raising my voice, etc. I’ve found that setting the firm boundaries before the anticipated episode (vs. during the meltdowns) is more effective.

Another absolute is consistency and follow-through. Parents cannot expect their children to adhere to the boundaries if they are ever-changing or if the child is not aware of when they are breaking the boundaries. Constant communication and “teaching moments” need to be at the front and center of every parent’s mind so their children value what they are being taught.

The Process of Laying a Limit – Laying limits firmly, yet from the heart is one of the most challenging things to do. It requires that we open our hearts to our children, deeply connecting to our own feelings and then, connecting to theirs. Once they see that we are fully present to our own authentic expression and theirs, we can lay the limit firmly, without guilt or doubt. But first we need to go within, check ourselves, ask ourselves what the limit means to us, why it is important, and then go ahead and lay it. When we do this inner work first, we are then coherent, consistent, and amply clear. Many of us lay limits willy-nilly and this is when they come back to bite us.Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent

How effective have you been as a parent in setting boundaries with your children? With yourself?

Have you clearly communicated with your children what those boundaries are and if not, why not, what holds you back?

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Creating Healthy Boundaries

15 01 09 setting healthy boundariesI have always believed and subscribed to the thought that firm boundaries are an important aspect of life. Setting boundaries allow us to designate where our limits are and are not to be crossed. This can apply to all areas of our life – from children, relationships (family & friends), work environment to behaviors/tolerances, respect, acceptances and everyday encounters in today’s world.

If we have outlined healthy boundaries for ourselves and our lives, it goes without saying that these boundaries will translate easily for us as parents to our children and show up significantly in their lives too. But if we have not then much consideration to incorporating firm boundaries into your family dynamics is a must (in my opinion).
Between my husband and I – I am definitely more of the one to set the boundaries for our little one. And as we know our different strengths as parents, the “laying of the land” usually falls more comfortably into my hands by default.

This has definitely been one area in our daughter’s growth and development that continues to be “tried and tested” and it has come with many deep breaths, tears, upsets and gray-hairs to say the least but we have seen some significant changes recently and for her too. What I have learned in the little 3.5-years of her life and through my own parenting approach is that in order to create an effective outcome from the boundaries that are being set, I must continue to stay conscious of my “presentation” in communicating them to her so that she learns them with as little “noise” as possible coming from me – like frustration, raising my voice, etc. I’ve found that setting the firm boundaries before the anticipated episode (vs. during the meltdowns) is more effective.

Another absolute is consistency and follow-through. Parents cannot expect their children to adhere to the boundaries if they are ever-changing or if the child is not aware of when they are breaking the boundaries. Constant communication and “teaching moments” need to be at the front and center of every parent’s mind so their children value what they are being taught.

Dr. Shefali Tsabary

Dr. Shefali Tsabary

The Process of Laying a Limit – Laying limits firmly, yet from the heart is one of the most challenging things to do. It requires that we open our hearts to our children, deeply connecting to our own feelings and then, connecting to theirs. Once they see that we are fully present to our own authentic expression and theirs, we can lay the limit firmly, without guilt or doubt. But first we need to go within, check ourselves, ask ourselves what the limit means to us, why it is important, and then go ahead and lay it. When we do this inner work first, we are then coherent, consistent, and amply clear. Many of us lay limits willy-nilly and this is when they come back to bite us.” – Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent

How effective have you been as a parent in setting boundaries with your children? With yourself?

Have you clearly communicated with your children what those boundaries are and if not, why not, what holds you back?

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The Transformational Power and Evolution of Conscious Parenting

The Transformational Power and Evolution of Conscious Parenting

The Transformational Power and Evolution of Conscious Parenting

Photo Credit: Takver, Flickr.com

I became a first-time mother at the prime age of 39 (my daughter is now 3.5 years old) and find she is “raising” me in ways I never thought possible. Prior to becoming a mother, I had parenting all “mapped out” from how it would look and how it would “go” and to my surprise it was anything but what I expected. From having her four weeks premature to her very strong-willed and spirited personality, I had all my “ducks lined up” and thought with my “controlling ego” that so long as I was in charge it was all going to fall into place just fine. Now reflecting back, I can see that every part of my pregnancy journey happened exactly as it was meant to be – to better prepare me for what was yet to come when she actually arrived and my own birthing as a mother officially began.

I was about to embark upon a new paradigm shift / awakening to “grow myself up” in ways I thought I already had and see that my daughter was always destined to be called into my life so she could teach me how to grow my underdeveloped being into the mommy she needed me to become that of more ease and calm for our journey in life together.

Before becoming a mother, I would describe myself as follows: full-time career woman, always busy doing, set in my ways, very structured, anxious / anxiety, controlling, impatient, perfectionist, people pleaser, care what others think, black and white thinker, over-analyzer, hyper/intense personality, high expectations of myself and others, not in the present moment / future-based thinker, wanting to always be prepared and ten steps ahead, very fixed on my own expectations of parenthood.

Then after seeing Dr. Shefali Tsabary for the first time this past May on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday followed by her first Lifeclass show, I knew this was my official wake-up call from the Universe (bringing all my past experiences) including the birthing of motherhood to a higher calling. I began reading The Conscious Parent book and it continues to affirm that being right where I am in this very moment is where I am supposed to be – with my greatest teacher, my daughter, as my guide. Furthermore, I began doing some spiritual meditation / work to tap more into my essence and be more present, aware of my past conditionings, limited-self beliefs and behaviors so I could more consciously parent my daughter from a place she needed me to vs. stay stuck in my old ways. I came to recognize through Dr. Shefali’s work that anxiety, doing, control all go hand in hand and had never really looked at it this way before. This past June, I started this personal blog (The Conscious Parent) as a way to continue the conscious parenting conversation and provide a platform to journal (self-therapy) while helping others in return.

When my daughter turned one, I consciously quit my job to be home full time and although this was a blessing to have had the choice to make happen, at the same time it was a huge adjustment from being a career person and having a very structured routine to a non-structured routine and no longer in control of my day. It gave me new insight on how my own anxieties, preconceived beliefs, behaviors and restrictive ways were limiting my ease and enjoyment of motherhood at times and taking ownership of how I was contributing to burdening my daughter’s emotions more through my own frustrations. With my “A-type” personality style, I wanted to be so prepared in knowing it all (about motherhood that is) to be at ease and be steps ahead of my own anxiety at any given point (ego – need for control). Well that back-fired and created more frustration onto my daughter, who sensed my anxious and controlling energy) and when she didn’t fulfill my expectations that I had “planned out” in my head (ego – perfectionism, conforming) my inner tensions deepened.

So here is a glimpse at how I have grown along my conscious parenting journey (and continue to work on these matters of the heart) on a daily basis – while still realizing my unconsciousness can still get the best of me but being more quick to awakening my consciousness and staying present in my own emotions:

  • Developing my patience muscle and awareness to my emotions; pro-active in my thinking
  • Not caring what others think
  • Remaining open and flexible
  • Apologizing and admitting my faults to my daughter and others
  • Speaking more calmly
  • Walking away as needed / pausing before reacting during my child’s tantrums (which have scaled down immensely)
  • Recognizing my emotional triggers
  • Staying honest and vulnerable with my child about my own feelings, emotions, frustrations
  • Teaching / modeling more relaxed vs. anxious responses to my child
  • Re-emphasizing the importance of self-love and self-care
  • Taking more time for me (making me matter)
  • Understanding and empowering my child to do on her own that I know she is capable of – even when she wants to resist greatly
  • Staying consistently mindful of my language choice, tone, behaviors, responses, etc
  • See her and understand her own emotions – letting her have her emotions and upsets and go through her own process removing myself “personally” in the moment it occurs
  • Validating her own being through my words and affection
  • Talking to her after her meltdowns and moving on vs. holding a “grudge”
  • I am learning that as I stay true to my own feelings and remove ego (perfectionism) I can be honest with my daughter about my frustrations, she sees me not as “super mom” but more of a reality to her developing self – to accept her emotions as they come.
  • I am learning that my tolerance has grown (from the past 3.5 years), when I am faced with her melt-down days, I can get through them without letting my anxiety get the best of me and in my most available conscious awareness.
  • I am learning that my daughter needs to have her “off days” too so she can learn and grow through them for herself.

Conscious parenting is not about perfection nor is it about getting to an end-point as it’s a constant evolution of raising ourselves as we raise our children and teaching them as much as they are here to teach us first and foremost.” – Dr. Shefali

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