Why Is Conscious Parenting So Important?

authoritarian conscious parenting paradigm shift social justice

I view parenting as a social justice issue. 

When I say this, your wheels might be turning to see how parenting has anything to do with social justice. 

Here is the thing: when we raise children to be obedient and subservient to those in power (us adults), even with good intentions, they often end up being adults who don’t question oppressive systems and instead reinforce and participate in them. 

In his book, Parenting for a Peaceful World, Robin Grille (2014) describes the cycles of physical and emotional maltreatment of children, including authoritarian ways of relating to those with less power (in this context, children). 

This way of relating to children has given rise to dictators and authoritarian forms of leadership that are based on oppressing the “other,” while inflating the power of a few through violence, intimidation, and coercion. 

Authoritarianism is, in large part, the result of child-rearing based on these same tactics of manipulation.

Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t mistreat my children or use authoritarian ways of relating to them!”

And you’re probably right (especially because you are reading an article by a conscious parenting coach…); your child-rearing is most likely far from what anybody would consider to be “authoritarian.” 

But the truth is, many of us have been conditioned (passed down through generations) to use subtle forms (or overt forms in some cases) of manipulation and coercion in which we try to get what we want through punishment/consequence or bribery. 

It may be a watered-down version of authoritarianism but we are still practicing it when our end goal is obedience and “well-behaved” children.

Conscious parenting moves us away from that paradigm by shifting our focus from obedience to parent-child relationship where our goal is connection, cooperation, and emotion regulation. 

We incorporate emotional attunement into parenting facilitated by the mindful awareness of our own emotional state so that we can create a safe container for our kids to thrive.

Children need to feel safe, seen, and important in order to thrive, and it is adults who create environments and relationships in which this can occur.

Adults who have a high level of emotional awareness and attunement are better listeners, are less reactive, and are better positioned to cultivate and support the well-being of others. 

Children cannot cultivate this ability in the absence of an adult (you!) who is well regulated in the present moment. In conscious parenting, you are modeling for your kids what emotion regulation looks like through mindful attention and awareness. 

Parenting in this way, we nurture kids into adult humans who can recognize and metabolize their own difficult or intense emotions, which translates into social change.

Dismantling systems of oppression involves the exquisite and precise handling of one’s own emotional state in order to be attuned to the outside world and be able to handle conflicts.

When we raise children who have this skill through conscious parenting, indeed we are creating a social change.  

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