This week I’ve been pondering on the way conscious parenting is often seen as permissive parenting. I know that, as conscious parents, some decisions we have made to do with our children are often seen by others as permissive. As if the kids make the rules and run our lives. But here’s the thing, me being attuned to the emotional and physical needs of my children is not permissive. My children do not want to manipulate, control or take advantage of their parents. What they want is safety, security and to be heard. The same thing that we all want from our closest relationships.

As babies all my children were attached to me inside a carrier and we never allowed them to cry-it-out. We never sent our children to child care, we allowed them to drop out of kindergarten and school. We continued co-sleeping until the present day. 

When you are a conscious parent your choices will be judged (developing a thick skin is a whole other blog post). Judgment does not diminish as they get older but instead it gets worse and it becomes more apparent from everyone. While an attached baby is generally acceptable, a child who refuses to go to school is NOT. 

And here’s why. In Western societies, there is great value in work and structure and rules. 

But guess what, what we have come to believe as a fact of life in the last few hundred years is not really a natural way of life for humans. Waking up to an alarm, eating on a bell and being told when to go to the toilet is not natural. It may be seen as normal in your society but it certainly is NOT natural. It is very unnatural and children know that. They sense it and they resist it.

But in order to fit into modern, industrialized society we need to keep up with the pace of others (work, school) – which means we need to make sure our children keep up. And when our children resist even though we’ve asked them 20 times GENTLY to eat breakfast (when they’re not hungry) so they can get dressed (when they’re still tired) and get in the car (when they want to stay at home) then we yell and scream and lose our cool and the cycle of yelling followed by guilt starts and we begin to think conscious parenting is not working because our children’s behavior is not changing. 

But what if it’s not about changing our children but more about changing our mindset, our habits and our expectations? What if it’s about changing the environment that our children live in. What if it’s about following their behavior a little more? Slowing down a little more? Having a little more fun? Playing a bit more?

Conscious parenting is not permissive. But it is based on respect. And the boundaries we set in our family are based on our health and our wellbeing. Our boundaries are not punitive or disciplinary but instead they are based on truly being attuned to each other. It is about openly communicating. Apologizing to each other when we mess up (because we all will). Forgiving each other and forgiving ourselves.

Conscious parenting and conscious living has upleveled my life in ways I never thought possible. I love the life we have built and the decisions that we have made. I love that we have learned that being attuned to our instincts and allowing our children to follow theirs is always a good idea. I love the relationships I have with my husband and children and I know in my heart that they are all based on connection and trust. Everything about that is intentional – and none of it is permissive.