Pema Chodron’s newest book, Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World, is about loving the world just as it is, even when what is going on might not be what you anticipated.
Isn’t that what parenting is all about — loving every age and stage, each with its own set of changes and challenges, and each requiring a shift in acceptance and perspective?
When your young child begins to say, “No,” you can resist and overpower or welcome the unwelcome. When your teen is defiant, you can respond with force or understand where they are developmentally and find ways to welcome these initially unwelcome changes.
If you wish to embrace rather than resist these inevitable changes, here are some of Pema’s concepts from Welcoming the Unwelcome that you can try on as a parent:
u “You really have to feel what you feel, which is frequently very vulnerable and raw.”
So often, we set aside our feelings rather than feeling them, especially if they are uncomfortable. Allowing yourself to feel all of your feelings — mad, sad, hurt, afraid and happy — means consciously setting aside a few minutes of time to fully identify and feel what is rising inside you. It does not necessarily mean expressing what you are feeling. By fully feeling your feelings, you get to experience your vulnerability as a strength.
u “Have an attitude that you want to grow from everything.”
This attitude will convert challenges into opportunities to learn more about yourself, about your child and about being the parent that you want to be. When a challenge pops up, ask yourself, “What can I learn here?” Develop your curiosity. This doesn’t mean denying uncomfortable feelings. It means feeling them and discovering more.
u “Some people naturally bring out the best in us. In their presence, we become more noble, brave and altruistic.”
Notice those who have the qualities that you admire as a human and as a parent. Hang out with those people.
u “Authentic teachers show us what it actually looks like to go beyond fixed mind, to exist without polarizing.”
Your child is an extremely authentic teacher. Always look for the third — or fourth or fifth — option that exists between the two poles. For instance, look beyond labeling your child’s behavior as good or bad. Instead, look for what is behind the behavior.
Doesn’t it seem that just as you get accustomed to your child being one way in the world, they morph into something new? By finding ways to welcome what initially may feel unwelcome, you can smoothly move forward.
Part of the beauty of being a parent is that each stage in your child’s development welcomes a new you as well.