For a long time people have been talking regarding the difficult task of being a good parent. However, understanding that as parents we do the best we can and can't do it perfectly somehow gives us a sense of normalcy. For those who are facing one challenge or another in their parenting journey, the spiritual challenges, or Five Stages of Spiritual Parenting will be published here this week. Hopefully, it will help all you parents cope with each difficult stage, lift you up spiritually, and make the holidays and day ahead a more pleasant journey!
This stage is marked by a true codependency in the literal sense of the word. The parent is fully aware the child is 100 % dependent on her. As the child grows older and develops a sense of self, the parent understands and celebrates the small steps that reflect successful individuation. However, this stage also includes a delineation of boundaries that slowly start to show both parent and child that each has some influence over the other. The baby cries, the parent comforts. The toddler grabs a dangerous object, the parent chastises the child. The parent yells, the child cries. This stage is driven greatly by cause and effect. The parent slowly understands the child’s unique personality and makes adjustments to parent effectively. As any parent who has had multiple children knows, not all children respond to the same type of discipline, instruction, or encouragement. It is a wonderful time for any parent, the spirit rejoices! But mostly for the first time parent. A whole new world opens up for the first time parent, bringing with it required comprises, financial obligations, and moments of joy that border on ecstasy. The parent is the child’s greatest hero or heroine and usually one of only a handful of influential adult in the child’s life. We see heaven in our child's face, and spiritual gratitude takes on new meaning.
During this stage, the parent feels full control over the child’s life. Parents in this stage can contain situations relatively quickly. For example; firing a babysitter, or ineffective nanny, limiting outdoor time, monitoring TV and music exposure, etc. This stage usually lasts until the child is about ready to go to school, usually sometime between the ages of 5 and 6 years old.
This stage starts sometime around the age when the child first attends school. In this stage the child must develop enough confidence to spend extended periods without the parent around, a task which most children master relatively quickly. However, what about the parent? Stage 2 of parenting requires the parent to begin to understand and accept that they are not the only influence on the child, albeit they can still be the greatest influence, it is still a difficult hurdle for most. There we are as parents, after putting in 6 years of “modeling” the best in ourselves, diaper changing, potty training, manners training, food selecting, TV monitoring, etc., only to drop our child off to be cared by what is usually a total stranger for 6 hours. This stage is only second in difficulty to stage 5 which we will discuss later on. We close our eyes, shed a few tears, and pray. The reason it is so difficult for parents is that the codependency is still very present and active, yet societal norms tell us we have to leave the child there, to fend for themselves for 6 hours. Our logical/analytical brain tells us we are doing the best thing for them. Yet, our primal parental instincts tell us the child is still defenseless, and we have to trust or believe they will come home in one piece, without physical or psychological damage caused by third parties. It is a real test of faith for any parent!
Check back tomorrow for Part II!
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