The word “guru” simply means “spiritual teacher.” When we are paying attention and staying centered, our children are teaching us all day long. And when we look even deeper with an elevated awareness, we can see how our children are teaching us to wake up to who we really are. The way we functioned before having children doesn’t work anymore, and we are being called by our own triggers to go deeper into our spiritual body and overcome our own patterned behavior. Our life experiences are designed to bring us deeper into who we really are, and nothing teaches us to come back to ourselves and to go deeper then parenthood.
Here are 5 ways our children are our greatest gurus:
- They teach us about how important it is to have no expectations: Soaking in the goodness of being a parent can overwhelm the heart. We can feel full of bliss and joy beyond anything the mind can conceive. The sweetness and love can be so wonderful, and then in the very next moment everything can spiral down in a steep decline of power struggles, tantrums, potential danger, and boogers being wiped on. Needless to say, we get shocked out of parental bliss in any given moment. Children are constantly exploring their environment, expressing big emotions, refusing to do seemingly reasonable requests (like putting on their shoes or eating dinner), and doing things that you didn’t think your sweet angel would ever do (like the boogers being wiped on the wall). The fantasy of parenthood is a far cry from the actual experience. And when we, as parents, can own that it’s our own expectations that cause us to feel frustrated, angry, and overwhelmed, then we can be open to what parenting is really about.
- They teach us about presence and patience: Before having children, you could decide to go to the store and then be in your car on your way within 2 minutes. You could have a 2 o’clock appointment and get there on time. You can sit down to eat dinner, and eat it. Now, you’re lucky to get out of the house in 20 minutes and finishing a meal before it’s time for the next one. Children’s needs are constant, and it takes a lot of energy just to do everything that needs to be done in a day. And to complete these tasks with ease and grace takes so much patience. Children do not have the same awareness around time as we do, and this calls on us to be more patient then we ever knew possible. They teach us to let go of our own agenda. While gently guiding them and observing their process, we can empower our children to want to listen and move in the direction of the car without the stress and pressure that parents so often bring to transitions. If we stay awake to the lessons of the unpredictable nature of parenthood, we can become masters at staying present.
- They teach us to be ever more empathic: Empathy is learned; it’s not innate. And to be empathetic without understanding the cause of the suffering takes a lot of consciousness. Children cry for reasons that seem ridiculous: the color of their cup is wrong, the sandwich is cut the wrong way, or their friend got the flavor of fruit leather that they wanted. When they cry and we don’t understand why, it can be really easy to discount their feelings. But even though we might not understand the cause, their feelings of sadness and anger are just as real as our own. And in validating and honoring their process, our children feel validated and honored. And this is what we all want in relationship. By stretching ourselves in our own empathic abilities, we help our children to move through their feelings to full and healthy resolution. Our empathic response helps them to heal while it also helps us to feel like the parent we really want to be. As a bonus, we teach our kids how to be more empathetic in the process.
- They teach us openheartedness: I teach my clients that if you’re listening to the fear of your mind, blaming, or invested in anger, you’ve closed down your heart. And since our children’s needs are so constant, we can feel drained and tapped all too often. This can cause us to lose our temper, get caught up in fear around safety, and worry about if we’re messing up our kids, etc. Yet since we love our children so deeply, we feel conflicted because all we want to do is enjoy them, teach them, and protect them. I think it’s the most profound spiritual practice to close our heart down for nothing. Even when your kids are testing you beyond what you think you can handle, use your awareness to keep your heart open to them so you can teach them with love and kindness. When we build the skill of coming back to our hearts often, we take ownership of our emotions and really experience the beauty of parenthood.
- They teach us that we’re always still learning: Let’s face it, we’ve all made mistakes in parenting. Somehow, in the short time they’ve been embodied, children know how to test us and stretch us in ways we didn’t know we could be stretched and tested. When I feel really clumsy at being a mom, I let me kids now that I’m still learning. This lets them see me as the flawed human being I am and gives them permission to be flawed, too. There is no way to be a perfect parent. There is no way to be prepared for all of the unexpectedness of having a child presents, so the only choice we have is to stay the student of life and allow ourselves to make mistakes along the way. And since we grow and learn from each mistake, we become more of the parent we want to be. In turn, we become more of the person we want to be.