Mothering is a job with infinite challenges and gifts. As a mother myself, I look back on 26 years as a parent and realize that the changes this journey has wrought within me are some of the most important and valuable in a life rich with opportunities for growth and change.
In my perspective there are two significant goals of mothering – one is to nurture, and the other is to empower. Striking the right balance of these two is something each parent has to find for herself, but I do have some thoughts to share on this very important subject. As a healer and teacher, I have had the opportunity to work with many children and their mothers, and an interesting trend has emerged. Where social consciousness in recent generations has focused greatly on the need for nurturing, the value of empowering may be getting short attention overall.
By nurturing I mean all activity and influences which assist, protect, direct and define a child’s experience. By empowering I mean stepping back and allowing the child to be self-directed, to learn from experience, to make choices and learn from their mistakes.
When working with children, I often find they experience a tendency toward being nurtured more than empowered. In their mothers there may be a great concern for the child’s success in the world; and perhaps somewhat a belief that the child’s success is a reflection of their success as a parent. I believe this is strongly encouraged in them by the educational system and society as a whole. As I work with children’s Higher Selves, they are often asking for help individuating more to find their own power and self-identity. How wonderful it is that these children have the nurturing and love, which is very essential in their development. However, at a certain point a mother faces the hardest job of all – releasing their child to build their own soul muscles and learn from their experiences of life.
It’s interesting that people with the least nurturing often become the most self-motivated individuals. However, they may have difficulty receiving love from others, lacking the experience of sufficient love as a child. As I work with children within those of our enlightened community, their mothers are often concerned that they seem to lack self-motivation. I believe this is partly because of the high level of nurturing they receive. It often seems that more empowerment is being requested by their Higher Selves and fortunately I have numerous ways to assist that, and also to help their most nurturing parents let go enough for them to experience it.
As a healer I often work with people retroactively through their early life and into the present to nurture that sense of independence and self-confidence that can only be built by listening to and choosing for themselves. And for the mothers, I help them begin to listen to their instincts rather than their fears, and the judgments of the educational community, to find within themselves the wisdom to know when to nurture and how to empower their unique and precious children.
Looking across generations there tends to be a swing between extremes of nurturing and empowering parenting. The freedom of the 60s and 70s era that I grew up in tended so strongly to the extreme on the empowering spectrum to seem neglectful! The things we were allowed to do, with apparent unconcern by our parents is astounding when looked at from today’s nurturing trend of parenting. Since then the inclination toward nurturing has swung to the opposite extreme of caution, care and direction given to our children. Society seems to promote this extreme through the educational system which insists that children be driven to succeed, and parents are responsible to see that they do. There seems to be an attitude of “or else” attached to this as well.
I feel compassion for children who are driven by the educational system, parents and career expectations during all the years of their childhood and youth. I believe this is a time when they can optimally be developing experience and self-confidence in making decisions and choices without too much pressure to be right. Their minds and hearts may be unstructured enough to begin to perceive and learn to trust their Inner Wisdom. Only trial and error can teach them this most precious skill.
How do we both nurture and empower our children? How do we give them space to be themselves and become whole people, within this competitive modern world? How do we nurture their Inner Wisdom, as well as guiding, loving, and providing for their needs? The answers to these questions lie within the intuitive heart of each mother and father. As you meditate and ask for wisdom, and listen to your children, I believe you can find the way.