What does it mean to be a soulful parent? Soulful parenting is a way of parenting where the child is given permission to explore their world through their own eyes, not through the eyes of the parent. The child is allowed to listen to their own intuition, encouraged to express themselves through the art of dance, music, painting, and to play freely stimulating their self-worth and nourishing their self-esteem. The child also learns how to speak their truth without judgement and only love. With soulful parenting parents take one step back, or two while permitting the child’s soul to have the spiritual experience it came here to have.

Obstacles That Get in the Way

Obstacles that get in the way of soulful parenting are issues that stem from the parent’s childhood. Parents that hurt their children hurt them because they themselves are hurting. Parents that are hurting inside tend to parent from an “inner child” perspective due to unresolved loss, abuse, abandonment and/or trauma. Parenting from a place of pain fosters children that are uncertain, full of anxiety and, at times, full of shame. The child’s decision making is skewed as they try to figure out if something is what they want or if it is something their parents want. This distorted way of thinking follows the child from childhood well into adulthood.

When the child explores their world through their parent’s eyes instead of theirs, the parent’s voice becomes the child’s internal voice. Not only does the parent’s voice become the child’s blueprint, but so does the parent’s fears. In adulthood, the child is still looking for their individuality, still searching how to quiet their parent’s voice and attempting to learn how to listen to their own voice. These adults are trying to unlearn what they learned during childhood from fearful parents. This is one of many reasons why adult children stay away from their elderly parents. The opposite holds true with the adult child that is still living with their elderly parents and is entangled with them. They may still be immature and apprehensive about living life on their own terms, afraid to see life through their own lens. A parent can only take a child as far as they have been themselves.

An uncertain child begins to look at the world through other’s lenses as well, not just their parents. They begin to look for self-worth outside themselves. While attending school, they may ask or demand to wear the most expensive clothing and have the latest version of the iPhone. They may begin to use drugs and put themselves in very dangerous situations just to fit in. In adulthood, the need for self-worth looks different. In addition to the latest fashion statement and the latest iPhone, an expensive car, mansion, yacht or the corner office may be what they aim for. Children that haven’t been soulfully parented are encouraged to keep doing and stop being. Unfortunately, some parents are not aware that they’re parenting from a painful place, from their “inner child” point of view.

Our Children Are Our Reflections

When parents pay attention to their child’s behavior and how their child expresses themselves, they’ll see themselves in that behavior and that expression. The child mirrors the parent. That mirroring is what triggers the parent’s pained “inner child” to react in a negative way. The parent may react by yelling, screaming, hitting the child and sometimes abandoning the child. During these times, the parent may feel out of control because they are. The good thing about mirroring is that the child’s mirroring will also let the parent know how well they’re doing as a parent. For example, the child will come home from school eager to show their grades, excited to tell the parent the next new thing and share with their dreams with anyone who will listen.

Not only are children our future, our children are our teachers. A child with a soulful parent will teach us how to play again, how to be silly, how to be courageous, how to connect with others and how to forgive. It’s easy for children to make friends, to be creative in making up new games in a split of a second. They forgive easier and faster than adults do. They come here already possessing all these wonderful attributes that serve them well all throughout their lifetime.

Removing the Obstacles and Parenting with Soul

How can we remove these obstacles that get in the way of becoming a soulful parent? Parents hold transformative power to turn things around. Children in nature want to impress their parents, and parents by nature love their children. The more invested the parent is to soulful parenting, the greater the bond will be with the child. These positive practices will impact both the child and parent’s neurobiology in a positive and constructive way. While the parent is healing the relationship with their child, they’re also healing their “inner child.” The more aligned the parent becomes with their soul, so does the child.

By adding one or two of the following ideas on a consistent basis, the bond between parent and child will improve dramatically.

  • Wake up the child gently as this gesture will start the day on the right foot
  • Embrace the child
  • Tell and show the child that they’re loved
  • Encourage the child to listen to their own intuition
  • Children want to know about their parents, so tell them a story
  • Make up a song and sing it while getting dressed and while doing any chore
  • Reassure the child when they’re not sure
  • Complement the child and tell the child they’re doing a great job
  • Talk with the child, not to the child, and get down to their eye level and look at their eyes while talking (this practice will help them learn intimacy and security)
  • Painting together on the same canvas teaches them about sharing space
  • Write a story together
  • Meditate and/or pray together
  • Cook a meal together
  • Go on a car ride without any distractions
  • Always say good night

Keep in mind that teens are transitioning from childhood to adulthood. This transition can make them moody. They are known to whine one moment (child) and being a “know-it-all” the next (adult). Teens want to form their own identities. Soulful parents need to focus on the child’s soul. Soulful parents need to think of parenting this way: the child is here on a soul retreat and the parent is the host, guiding them through. Children are here to love, learn and expand their consciousness as well as their parent’s.

Maria Rivera Heath is a bilingual and bicultural licensed marriage and family therapist, national board certified clinical hypnotherapist and a 200-hour certified yoga teacher. She has a private practice in Branford, CT. Connect at Maria@MRiveraHeath.com.