Written by Jan Cloninger
"We all have this place inside of us a place of strength, harmony and wisdom, but most of the time we don't live there. How can we course-correct faster? How can we encourage each other to live in that place more?" -Arianna Huffington
I could not agree more. I know the truth of this statement because I've spent years trying to understand, discover and live out of that place. I also know that as we do the work for ourselves, we develop the skills to continually course-correct and learn how to encourage our children to make their own discoveries so they can live out of that place also.
If you are parenting and want to explore the possibilities for yourself and your children, it all comes down to three basic aspects: Know yourself. Know your child. Love your child unconditionally.
1. Know yourself. If we have done the work of identifying what makes us unique -- discovering our gifts, finding our passion, being clear about our personal beliefs and values, developing a strong emotional skill set, silencing the voices of our past and society that tell us how we should be living our life -- we will discover that place of strength, harmony and wisdom inside where we can reside. Having found it, we also increase our ability to create a life that we feel good about. Our daily choices will align with what matters most.
As a parent, we also become a better role model for our child because we will be able to send clear and concise messages about what's important to us and our family. Because as we explored and gained understanding of the process for ourselves, we will have also developed the knowledge and skills to help our child through his own journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance.
2. Know your child. Each child is unique and is born with a particular temperament, undeveloped gifts and personal preferences. It takes time to discover what's a phase, trend or trait that she will carry into adulthood. If we try to make our child into something she is not; if we try to live out our dreams through her life; if we try to create her in our own image, we are not honoring our child for who she is -- and that can cause great strife throughout the parenting process and damage to our child's ability to thrive as she moves into adulthood.
As a parent, it is our job to play the role of detective: observing, noticing clues and discovering patterns that reveal what our child's contributions to the world may be someday.
"Our children are born with inherent gifts, but how we nurture our children has a tremendous influence on who they become." - From The Courage to Parent
If we support our child in the process of self-discovery, we can provide opportunities for her to explore and build on her strengths. We can teach her to listen and follow her own voice so as she grows into adulthood she can live her life from a place of strength, harmony and wisdom.
3. Love your child unconditionally. If we can accept our child for who he is, celebrate what makes him unique, guide him in the process of self-discovery and self-acceptance and finding his place in the world (without imposing our desires, expectations, personal history and/or unresolved issues onto him), we will be providing a strong platform from which he can launch into the world. We can support him if he makes mistakes without judgment or shame. And celebrate his victories as he learns about himself and how he wants to be in the world. We will have given him one of the greatest gifts of all -- unconditional love and support that he knows will always be there as he sets out to create the life of his dreams.
These concepts are easy to understand, but are not always so easy to integrate into our daily life -- especially if our parents didn't model them as we were growing up.
But it's never too late to start, further our exploration, increase our ability to course-correct faster or learn how to encourage our children to do the same.
Think about your life and your parenting practice. Celebrate the steps you have taken. Be honest about where you'd like to do better.
If there is an area you would like to learn more about, focus on or increase your capacity to model it for your child, put together a simple action plan for how you can move forward. Mark your calendar to revisit and revise your plan as needed.
We all have this place inside of us a place of strength, harmony and wisdom. We just need to take the time to find it.
You can contact Jan at http://www.aplacetoturnto.org
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power," which took place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.