“And the Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him” Luke 2:40
Today’s blog is dedicated to a very special little man named Arie Joseph (AJ). He is my God-daughter’s son who is being baptized today.
In addition to all the prayers, blessings and special wishes that will be showered upon AJ on this day, it is also a very special day for his parents, as is with any rite of passage in a child’s life. On baptism day, parents are up close and personal to the sacrament that brings their child into Christianity. It’s a commitment parents make. It is also a responsibility they have as caretakers of their child’s beautiful mind and soul to instill some sort of belief / faith in them. As a child grows and matures, they may stray from their religion / faith or maybe even find another one that resonates more for them. Regardless, parents have laid the foundation for spiritual, faith based practices, beliefs, morals and values in hopes of creating a kind, loving, compassionate, wise, responsible and productive citizen of the world.
The experiences of being a first time parent, diapers, dishes, sleep, lack of sleep, food prep, doctor appointments, teething, runny noses, fevers, food allergies, work schedules, child care and other dilemmas (remember- the bigger the child – the bigger the problems) can be daunting and overwhelming. Then throw in how one will discipline the child and the parenting style that both parents may or may not see eye to eye on. Having been in education for 33+ years, I experienced first-hand the chaos, confusion, angst, anxiety, destructive behavior, and struggle that families go through when they are at odds with the basic tenets of how to raise a child. After I ended my career, I came across Dr. Shefali. I don’t recall if I first saw her TED talk or her interview on Super Soul Sunday, but what a game changer she is!
Once you see Dr. Shefali, listen to her, and really hear what she is saying, your life, world and awareness will be forever changed. Had I come across Dr. Shefali’s work sooner, I swear I would have created a parent workshop or parenting classes around her first book, The Conscious Parent. Furthermore, if I ran a private school, this book would be mandated reading for parents and/or caretakers before accepting the child into school. It would also be required reading for the teachers. I am telling you, it’s a book every parent-to-be (or person responsible for raising a child) should read way before they even plan on starting a family (and for anyone working with children). THAT is how POWERFUL Dr. Shefali’s books are! As a matter of fact, I gifted The Conscious Parent to AJ’s parents when I learned they were expecting and also gave my girlfriend Barb (Grandma / Abuela) Dr. Shefali’s other book, The Awakened Family. My darlings, this is definitely a gift that keeps on giving!
If there is anything we have learned by now, is that the “Authoritative” approach to discipline and public shaming does not work. It’s not healthy and is destructive to say the least. Instead of building a child up, enforced disciline and punishment tears the child down – leading to shame, resentment, self-esteem issues, eating disorders, insecurities, hostilities, behavioral issues and other self-sabotaging behaviors…..and yes, it is a form of bullying. One of the things that struck me is how she is able to show us that children are a mirror of our own unresolved issues. In her book, The Awakened Family, Dr. Shefali also shows us how and/or why children’s needs aren’t being met and why they truly feel they are not being “heard” by parents or don’t feel a connection to the parent(s). She poses some profound questions for parents to ask themselves:
- Where am I as the parent failing to connect with my child?
- What in the child longs to be recognized, but is being ignored?
- How can I help mitigate the feelings of inferiority and shame that my child experiences?
- And most importantly, how am I projecting my own internal shame onto my own child?
In Dr. Shefali’s words, “Unless we begin to turn the spotlight within and ask these difficult questions, our children will live in the legacy of shame that will continue into future generations. And the epidemic of bullying will continue to soar.” Dr. Shefali’s books integrate Eastern and Western philosophies and show us how to parent in an evolutionary and conscious way. She gives us daily skills and tools that are transformational, healing and lead both children and parents to a place of calm, ease and joy. I highly recommend Dr. Shefali’s book to anyone thinking about starting family, just started one, is struggling with the “my way or the highway” style of parenting and/or caretakers responsible for raising children. Her books make an awesome gift for anyone who is being blessed with a new baby in their family. The books are blessings in and of themselves!
So, on AJ’s special day, I am sending the Diaz-Spencer Families many heartfelt special wishes and blessings and will close with a beautiful prayer from Marianne Williamson’s book, Illuminata – A Return to Prayer.
Dear God, Thank you for the birth of Arie Joseph into the world and into this family. We offer ourselves this day as caretakers of his spirit and his higher mind. May we fulfill with strength the glory of our role, in AJ’s life and in the lives of his parents, Erica and Doug. May the spirit of this family, from generations past and into the future, burst forth to bless and sustain Arie Joseph. Amen.
Let the celebration begin!
Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC