Pink Shoes & The Conscious Parent

“Seriously…the pink frilly ones?” I was disappointed. I was sure I wasn’t a girly girl, but my daughter was exhibiting a pure princess-like obsession and she was forcing me to walk my parenting talk.  Let me explain…

The Shoes

We took a trip to a mall in Penang to buy shoes for Miss I. On display and positioned perfectly at eye level for a 2 year old, were toddler shoes that spanned a few decades in style. I picked out a very practical pair that she could wear everyday and turned to show them to Miss I.  The shoes I held in my hand would match most of her outfits, were closed toe and had pretty flowers. Despite my most “Wow, look at this awesome-ness” face, she would have nothing to do with them. She had already found her preference: an overly sweet, frilly pink pair that reeked of toddler pageants. This was a huge parenting moment as I fully understood what it meant to be a conscious parent.

Decisions, decisions.

Un-learning Parenting Styles

Parenting style is often influenced by what was modeled to us when we were children. Often times, that model is one of authoritarianism, where the parents hold all control and inject their will upon the children. It’s a “Power Rules” paradigm. We did not want to model that for our children. Instead, we started becoming more conscientious of our thoughts, the way we communicate, our parenting style and the subtleties of our children. We’ve gained an immense amount of awareness of our children and ourselves by observing old patterns of thought and behavior and eliminating (or trying to eliminate) those that don’t serve us positively.

The Moment

The first step in conscious parenting is to identify your own tendencies, attitudes and programmed behaviors about parenting.  Most adults of this and older generations have grown up with a parenting style that exhibited a ‘top-down’ authoritarian style of parenting. The parents know what is best and the children must obey or be subject to punishment. This works for some families. When we exhibited this type of parenting in our young family, it just didn’t feel right to us. We didn’t yell, but there were a lot of “No’s” being said. It was not encouraging to any of our hearts and I witnessed the shrinking of my child’s spirit. And that broke my heart.

Encouraging Spirit

In an effort to create a family full of trust, respect and happiness, we changed our parenting style to one that follows a more harmonious path. Children are people, they are young and open to the world and should be shown respect through our communication and thoughts about them. It’s not always easy to break the barriers of social and emotional conditioning, but we are consciously aware of our own tendencies and constantly take inventory of our thoughts and actions with one another.

This shoe incident with Miss I could have gone 2 ways.

1) I could have said No. (Full disclosure: I tried).

I could have put my figurative foot down and denied her the shoes that she picked out. But what good would that have done?

What damage might that have done? It would have undermined her ability to make decisions. It would have modeled to her that her interests aren’t valid unless she shows interest in the ‘right’ things. It would have undermined her confidence and self-esteem and her ability to make her own decisions without looking to others. In other words, it would have started the pattern of conforming to society instead of singing her own song. When children grow up constantly looking over their shoulder to see if their choices are the right ones, eventually, they subconsciously stop making their own choices, and simply follow what everyone else is doing.

The only way for children to learn to make decisions based on their own judgement is by experimenting from a young age.

2) I could have bought the shoes.

Realizing that I could either choose to trust Miss I to make her own choices, or give her the message that her choices can’t be trusted, I bought her pinky shoes. Because even though she’s only 2 years old, she has opinions on what she likes and has the ability to make choices.

I put my money where my values are.

 

My Goals as a Conscious Parent

Fostering my child’s spirit and individual personality is more important than infusing her with my own preferences.

My goal in parenting is to encourage the bright light of my children’s spirit; to discover and encourage the things and activities that make them light up with joy. To show them unconditional love, fully. From the earliest age, our children are independent beings. We can’t make them be who we want them to be. Rather, we should allow their personalities to unfold at their own pace. That means letting go of preconceived outcomes. By doing so, I am enjoying getting to know my children deeply.

Parenting is a balancing act. My daughter, Miss I, has been a very relaxed happy soul. She rightfully deserves her nickname of being our “ray of sunshine”. Fostering my child’s spirit and individual personality is more important than infusing her with my own preferences.We have restructured our lives to make relationships and spirit a priority and the shoes don’t really matter. What mattered was me validating my daughters choice and heart’s desire. Conscious parenting simply means parenting each child with awareness and love, with the goal of building trust in the parent-child relationship.

In that moment, I was aware that I was trying to impose my preferences on my child, when clearly, her preference was the pink, frilly, totally glittery shoes. That moment represented my awareness of the detrimental patterns I learned from my own parents.  We can change those repeating patterns and start taking responsibility for our own behaviors by consciously observing them.

This was a beautiful lesson for me that I wanted to share.

Cute and all her own.

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14 Responses to “Pink Shoes & The Conscious Parent”

  1. Justin January 21, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    This is a beautiful gem of wisdom: “When children grow up constantly looking over their shoulder to see if their choices are the right ones, eventually, they subconsciously stop making their own choices, and simply follow what everyone else is doing.”

  2. Catherine Forest January 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    Sabina, I love that post! I clearly remember being a little over Miss I. age (maybe 3?) and going to a shoe store with my mom. As soon as I walked in, I spotted the shiny red shoes and I knew that’s what I wanted. The saleswoman was trying to convince me otherwise and I kept saying no. She found me rude and told my mom: well, she knows what she wants this one (in a bit of a disgusted tone…). My Mom bought me those shoes and I wore them every single day until they fell to pieces… I totally agree with you and I am trying to do the same things with our 3 girls. I need to remind myself that it is fine if they want something else that what I would chose myself and support them fully in their decisions.

  3. Jennifer Pearce January 22, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    I especially love what you said about validation of their choices and desires, by being aware of them and then lovingly expressing that awareness to our children. I can see more clearly now how that is the foundation which trust needs to build upon in our relationships, and especially with our children. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful lesson.

  4. Mary January 22, 2013 at 1:29 am #

    Great article. I remember that day watching and wondering what you would do. I am so happy for you and proud of you for choosing the way you did andd for being conscious parents. You have some lucky kids!!

    • S King January 22, 2013 at 4:08 am #

      Mary – you were the perfect person to be there for me in the moment. Your face and “I don’t think you’re getting those shoes off her” statement was so fitting and true. Thanks for being there.

  5. Tracey - Life Changing Year January 22, 2013 at 2:14 am #

    Those shoes are completely gorgeous and she made the right choice! Don’t hate me for this but it occurred to me while I was reading your post….what will you do if she decides she wants to go in a pageant when she’s older? Reading this made me wonder if any of those pageant kids actually wanted to participate and their parents were just letting them trust their own choices too. Something I hadn’t considered before.

    • S King January 22, 2013 at 4:06 am #

      Tracey…If Miss I wants to do a pageant…I’m totally for it and will clear out the shelves for her crowns. I’d be proud to be the mother of a poised, confident and well spoken daughter.
      The split second moment was so powerful for me in seeing my children as independent beings.

  6. Heidi January 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    I so understand this. We are in the same conflict all of the time “what to do?” I like your choice and it will remind me to take that path more often as well.

  7. Liddy January 27, 2013 at 3:46 am #

    I love those shoes! Do they come in my size? I love you and Miss I too!

  8. Travel with Bender (Erin) January 31, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    I remember that day very well. I learnt something that day. You are an awesome mum! Mia also got a pair of shoes her daddy wouldnt have liked that day… She still wears them now and asks every time we go out for those ones. Beautiful post!

  9. Clark Vandeventer March 19, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    This is really great… and I can say that I have been there — many times! Oh, that moment when I tried to say no… when I tried to convince my daughter that the really practical choice also happened to be the really awesome choice.

    We’re teaching our kids to live epicly, though. Epic isn’t always practical… and we’re surprised when they give us back exactly what we have taught them!

  10. Amber May 5, 2013 at 3:07 am #

    Interesting story. I just read a piece about the princess-industrial complex in the US, where a lot of parents said they don’t instill the girly girl image at home, but the child picks it up from somewhere – a friend, school, TV, etc. Next thing they know, they are ordering Cinderella to come to the house for a birthday party. For a 2 year old to express an opinion like this you wonder if there is an innate girliness in each of us. I like that you are allowing your children to have and express opinions though. What, honestly, is the harm in the pink shoes in the grand scheme of things?

  11. Abbie May 8, 2013 at 5:14 am #

    Thank you for your beautiful post. My family are moving to Ubud in a few weeks time and I have loved reading your posts on Bali.

    I don’t think there is ever a time when my daughter picks the clothing I wold like her to wear… today she decided she would wear her sisters pyjamas all day (she is 4 and her sister is 10 months!).

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