Before I begin, I’d like to share a disclaimer: I am not a parent, nor will I ever be.
I am a monk. I won’t ever truly know the torn-at-the-seams moments when your infant/toddler/child/teenager is driving you so crazy that you ashamedly wish you weren’t a parent, or the subsequent guilt you have at having such a thought. I won’t ever truly know the heartbreak that many parents feel when their child is bullied, injured, left out, depressed, or comes home drunk or high for the fifteenth time too many. I just won’t. So there’s that.
What I can tell you is that I have spent the better part of the last 17 years working intimately with families and young people who have experienced the kind of difficulties, challenges, and, in some cases, trauma that have sent them into a tailspin. The kind that only drastic, reparative healing action can correct.
I work with families who cannot find a way out, who have tried every possible solution imaginable; families who are beyond desperate to save the lives of their kids. The lessons I share with you come from the literal blood, sweat, and tears of the front lines of healing that I have had the honor to be a part of.
Now, I am not perfect. Yes, I know, some of you spiritual hard-liners out there will say to me, “Listen, Jiv, you are perfection. It’s just your misaligned personality that gets in the way of expressing the perfection that you are!”
To which I would respond, “Namaste, yes that’s true; now let me continue with my blog.”
I make mistakes every day with the kids I work with. I push them too hard sometimes. I’m too easy on them other times. I teach them things that they then say to their parents and I later regret saying at all. What I am about to offer comes from the humble, evolving mind of a monk, seasoned coach, and psychotherapist.
Be Confident, Humble, and Appropriately Transparent
Confidence comes with education and experience. Humility comes from always knowing you can learn. Kids adore parents who are equal parts confident and humble. When children have parents that they can rely on to help them find an answer without telling them the answer, or parents who can admit their faults without sacrificing their own self-worth, kids become that example. They, too, realize that they have value and can sometimes make mistakes. They are good people who sometimes make bad choices, not bad people because they sometimes make bad choices.
Confidence: A Prerequisite to True Humility
Humility, without the belief or knowingness that you are a person of value, is empty and vacuous. Kids respect parents and adults who “let them in” in appropriate ways. When I share with the teenagers I work with how I may struggle at times, or better yet, show them how I might struggle at times⏤in such a way that it doesn’t make them responsible for my well-being⏤I create a sense of trust that I could never convey didactically.
The kids I work with trust me because I accept them as they are. Even though I may disagree with them, and push them to grow in really direct ways, they trust me. They can feel that (nearly) everything I say and do comes from a place of devotion to their holistic health. I am genuinely committed to their becoming authentic, expressed, mature, and responsible people.
Even though I say things to them that really piss them off sometimes, they respect me, and I suspect it’s because I respect them. I respect them enough to tell them how I feel about them. More importantly, I’m willing to admit to being wrong when I’m wrong.
Show Up in the Best Way You Can
To parent like a monk, simply show up in the best way you can, for better or for worse. That’s when I see the kids I work with become their best. In this way, I’ve created a recipe of sorts, for highly effective relational parenting: Add one part confidence that I know what is best, to two parts humility knowing I don’t know what’s best all the time, whipped with appropriate and pervasive transparency. Toss it all with unconditional love and you, too, can parent like a monk.