Proclaiming Unconscious Parenting

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. – Frederick Douglass

Collectively, we’re waking up to the reality that we’ve been living largely unconsciously for generations . . .

With the cultural movement to live more consciously, comes heightened self-reflection and subsequent awareness around the wounding related to our unconscious choices, as well as the unconscious choices of others. Psychologist Shefali Tsabary points out, “We awaken to the fact that our unconsciousness is a function of the unconsciousness of everyone around us.” Awakening allows us to take a critical look at the forces that helped shape who we’ve become and perhaps even creates the impetus to make some changes.

Of the forces that have the most impact in childhood, our parents are usually the most influential. But looking back often causes the end of reflection and healing, rather than its promotion. If we acknowledge how our parents were raised, then we can be quick to dismiss their choices with us. Our parents likely had it much worse with their own parents . . . and their parents before them. They probably endured many hardships that we haven’t, but using our parents hardships as an excuse to dismiss the wounds their treatment created in us, closes the door on healing ourselves and making better choices in the future. We have to proclaim our parent’s unconscious parenting for what it was: the kind of parenting that inadvertently wounded us and perpetuated destructive cycles.

Every generation appears to be living just a bit more consciously than the last . . . this is good news for generations to come.

I’m not advocating confrontations or hours spent in family therapy with our parents. What I’m suggesting is that each of us had our own particular parenting experiences that left us with unmet needs, harmed us, and may have damaged our ability for healthy connections with the people we love. Proclaiming the unconscious parenting of our childhood, shines light on our experiences, heightens awareness around wounding, and illuminates how our wounds created the patterns and habits we perpetuate.

Without this awareness, there is no chance for our own healing and the prospect of ending destructive cycles with us. We will continue to pass on the same destructive patterns and habits from generation to generation, because hurt people, hurt people unless the cycles stop. This is critical if we want to have intimate relationships, but even more so when we’re parenting our own children.

Conscious relationships are the means for personal and collective transformation.

Every single one of us is unique, with needs specific to us. The only way we get our needs adequately met is through conscious relationships. And conscious relationships start with us taking responsibility for ourselves. This means being really honest about our patterns, habits, and the wounds that can get triggered when they haven’t quite been healed. We have to be willing to be honest with ourselves and show up for others from this vulnerable and tenderhearted position – a position of presence, purpose, and power attained through awareness.