Ditch Your Parenting Books: Learn The Secret to Raising Happy Kids

05/01/2015 01:51 pm ET | Updated May 01, 2016
gpointstudio via Getty Images

As spring bursts forth -- grass greening, leaves emerging and the beginnings of plants peek up from the soil -- I find myself reflecting on how they all began as seeds. Even the giant maple tree in our front yard started as a tiny seed. Within it, the imprint of what it would become in all its enormous glory. It truly is mind blowing to imagine how that is even scientifically possible.

But it doesn't stop there. Because when you take it one step further, we are very much like these plants and trees. We are born with the imprint of what we can be in all our untampered glory. Joyful, fulfilled (from within) and peaceful. All we have to do is "survive" the pressures of others -- society, parents, friends, etc. These well-meaning attempts to support us to "be better" and "do better" are often loaded with expectations, taking us away from our inner truth- the pure essence of our being.

How many of us can look back at crossroads in our lives where we felt pulled in one direction, but allowed our inner voice to get drowned out by the criticisms and judgments of others. Or where we made decisions based on pictures of "success" and "happiness" that we learned from the media and society, but deep down didn't truly align with who we are.

Coming to understand this concept has completely changed the way I parent. Instead of starting from a perspective of guiding and teaching, I realize the importance of protecting and nourishing. Kids don't need us to 'teach them the ways of the world', they need to learn how to create their own way in the world. It is our job to create the space, light and food (inspiration or tools) with which they can manifest their own greatness.

They deserve to be supported and empowered to live a life:

  • Where they are not swayed by the "shoulds" and "coulds" of society deciding for them what is "successful," "worthwhile" or "important."
  • Where our drive to help them "reach their full potential" doesn't override their internal programming for what their essence truly is.
  • Where their greatest supporters understand and hold sacred this internal essence and truth for themselves, and therefore know the value of holding it sacred in their children.

As mythologist Michael Meade puts it, "American culture says that you must make something of yourself, but the mythological understanding is that everybody already is someone. They have a seeded self at birth. As soon as young people are aware of the uniqueness inside them, they can begin to manifest the stories they're carrying."

If we can explore this truth for ourselves, we are much more prepared to honor our kids with the same respect. We must align with our true values, embrace what makes us distinctly ourselves, and value the internal messages and connection above any information imposed from the outside world.

It is not our job to help our kids find success. They already are successful. We don't need to help them find joy. They already are joy. Our only real task is to help them look inwards. Ask them "what do you think?" "How do you feel?" Encourage them to look into their hearts, their souls, the yearnings and desires they carry around with them each and every day. Look at these "truths," learn to embrace what they are given, and create the story of their life.