What do those two little words bring up for you?
Even if we barely scratch at the surface, when we start to do the deeper self-inquiry and begin to practice learning how to trust, we set into motion the domino effect of an evolutionary shift in collective consciousness and experience. Trusting our children -in every way- is a revolutionary act of defiance against ages-old patriarchal systems of oppression and control, and the relatively more recent enforced industrial education. Easy to say, “Trust”. Harder to do. This is why we call things like this a practice. It is an ongoing unfolding process of exploration and investigation.
What prevents us from being able to trust?
A small group of parent friends and I have a support group and meet to discuss and answer questions about the self-inquiry we have been doing. Our recent focus had been around liberating joy in our families which naturally led us into an examination of Trust. I become hyper aware of the pink elephant in the room when we don’t have the difficult conversations, about those subjects existing in the peripheral shadows but when left unconsidered hold a power over our behavior and ability to respond and care for our children and our communities. Therefore, right away I want to place this conversation within the context of current events.
The surrounding reality of Covid-19, quarantine and racism are unavoidably impacting lives in profound and devastating ways. As individuals and parents and families, our lives have been affected by the context of our environment, as well as the environment in which we grew up, and in which our parents and ancestors were raised. Now, in the context of this moment, we feel in our bodies the visceral fear of disease and death, we feel the disorienting experience of not knowing what is true, many of us are reeling from the impact that the trauma of racism has had in our bodies while still others grasp to make sense of the world they thought they understood as cultivated illusions crumble in the face of undeniable historical truth. Experience is an opportunity for clarity, and the mirror it presents reveals a reflection of our relationship to Trust. We see and begin to comprehend why it can be so hard to feel Trust, as we do the self-inquiry from within the experience of this evolving crisis, here in America and around the world, as we begin to fully acknowledge the scope of healing and reparations required.
For generations — thousands of years — since the dawn of so-called western world civilization, humans have experienced, either subtly or brutally, being enslaved, tortured, burned, silenced, demoralized, demonized, stripped of power, punished for being different, for speaking out, punished for being strong, for having a mark, being beautiful, for being intelligent, kind, unusual, creative, quiet, poor, angry, Japanese, African, for belonging to any Indigenous culture around the world throughout history — just for existing. It is hard to Trust from within the embodied database of information we inherited from those generations of traumatized ancestors who preceded our birth.
Even the most privileged will need to confront seemingly insurmountable inner obstacles to be truly free from unconscious bias while the underprivileged have the additional task of untangling the most deeply embedded embodied layers of trauma imaginable in order to trust.
Many of us are unable to feel safe in our own bodies before we are even born. While gestating in our mother’s wombs, from the time before birth we were steeped in the unconscious vibratory resonance of that distrust. It is nearly impossible to come to an embodied place of trust when we have been repeatedly punished for our very existence. For generations we have become parents without the ability to trust the full power of our embodied spirit, of being fully present with the life within our bodies.
Then, when we are confronted with the unbridled raw power of our children’s flowing spirit, their autonomy, their voice, their individual will, their drives and passions, their creative power and sexuality — we can hardly tolerate it let alone Trust.
As modern day parents equipped with the varied knowledge and tools of new science, we are now able to identify, in universally accepted terms, what spiritual indigenous wise elders have been sharing all along: when we meet the trauma we hold in our bodies and embrace the psychology of our inherited unconscious bias we welcome all our shadows into the light of our awareness, and we are empowered with presence and an ability to respond.
We have the capability to revolutionize how we parent and change the trajectory of the quality of human existence in our bodies.
It is in this state of consciousness, of presence and alignment with the nature of life, that we are able to care for ourselves and our children. With this awareness, we are compelled by our humanity to not subject our children to the ways we have ruled over them and abused their rights in the past. Children’s rights are not rights anyone decides for them. It is their right as a human to decide for themselves and share with their parents and community, as collaborators on their journey, what their needs and desires are.
The way our family has evolved, and how my husband and I parent, is a natural extension of who we are plus all the self-inquiry we have done. Our ability to connect to that presence of mind and compassionate consciousness has been formed by the depth psychology and spiritual work we’ve studied and practiced for over two decades, and our holistic liberation parenting work is a perfect segue from the womb awakening liberation work we began together after becoming a Mother and Father. Conscious peaceful parenting has taught me the deepest most arduous spiritual lessons of my life. I continue to dive into my consciousness to dismantle the unconscious bias and patriarchal programming operating at the core foundation of my learned perspective. This practice of learning to trust children, and the unravelling illuminating self-inquiry involved in the process, is the greatest psychological and spiritual healing process I’ve ever undergone.
This new-old way of parenting is a constant dance between what is popularly categorized as Self-Directed Education/Unschooling and Deschooling. Unschooling is simply a modern take on traditional village life in indigenous communities and those ways of being present for children learning by osmosis through play, mimicry, apprenticeship and mentoring their younger siblings, cousins and friends. Deschooling can be described as decolonizing the mind or dismantling these thousands of years of unconscious bias in addition to inquiry into the more recent assumptions of how we define the accepted role of parenting.
The word parenting in the way it is defined now has only existed for the last sixty years.
Several months ago I became curious about this word and did some etymological research and I discovered that parenting as we know it only happened in the late twentieth century. If you look into the definition of parenting you’ll find the noun parent came to be defined as something akin to supervision by parents of their children for the first time in 1959. Before that, around the 1930s, the term used was parentcraft (which I quite like the creative sound of). Going back further, the word parent is derived from the French parentage used as early as the 15th century to define parental conduct and the parent relationship of caring for children or identifying children as your own. The root of that 12th century French word parentage is the noun, parent. By the 1560s and 1580s that term began to be used in reference to family or a lineage via parents, as was the earlier Old French word used in the late 13th century, parage.
So it is a very recent construct of the modern human mind to parent in the ways people have written “how to” books about in the last six decades. That kind of parenting science is rooted in the compulsion to systemize control as a primary physiological response to fear and to fortify ourselves against a perceived threat of loss of control and safety. But if we do the arduous work of self-inquiry, with gentle loving-kindness and lots of forgiveness, it becomes easier and easier to unlock the codes and access the knowledge within our DNA from further back along the line of our ancestors, our parage, to know intrinsically how to nurture the children who we share our lives with — or rather, how to learn to listen to our children’s needs and their intrinsic knowing. With practice, it becomes easier to trust our bodies, ourselves and our children. Not easy, but easier, and it feels so good.
Building trust currency in the simple yet revolutionary act of listening isn’t only applicable to authentic conversations with adults.
Empowering our children by not interfering with nature is a preventative cure-all, healing the root of trauma, bullying, hate, rage, racism, policing, domination, physical and psychological abuse, enslavement, victimization, perpetrating violence in any form, tyrannical leadership et cetera. Instead of modern traditional parenting, radically trusting our children fosters self-worth, empathy, kindness, intrinsically motivated community service and collaborative stewardship of the earth. We need more of this as we re-imagine the world we are all responsible for creating together. Trust children to learn without control and oppression rooted in our fear. Trust children to lead the way. Your revolutionary powerful action in service of life and our communities can begin with the simple act of listening to your child and trusting the wisdom embodied in their powerful existence.