I was happily sipping a glass of wine at a Christmas party fifteen years ago when the hot topic of EI (emotional intelligence) vs. IQ (intelligence quotient) came up. This was the first I had heard of the concept even though Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ was a best-seller. The data basically suggests that people with higher EI make better leaders, have more successful careers and lead happier lives. This did not sit well with a room full of parents who were spending thousands of dollars on a Catholic school education each trying to stake a claim that their kid was the smartest in the first grade.
As the alcohol continued to flow, the conversation got more heated as a friend continued to opine that emotional intelligence is a skill gained through compassionate parenting, not a text-book. Some dads huffed and puffed that EI means nothing without the intelligence to back it up. Neither side was really listening to the other, both camps positioning their rebuttals. Thank goodness someone started singing Christmas carols diffusing the stand-off.
I tell this story because it illustrates how some of the most well-intentioned adults act as if parenting is a contest; that their superior nurturing teamed with education, opportunity and their exceptionally good genetics will produce rock star kids because that is the goal of every “good” parent, right?
But what does it really mean to be a “good” parent? What qualities or behaviors make someone a “bad” parent? If I had you in a room together with white board I’m sure y’all could come up with an endless number of adjectives describing both. But let’s dig beneath the surface shit.
Let’s talk about good vs. bad parenting (if there really is such a thing) in terms of awakened parenting. Please note that I am not referring to the movement in conscious parenting which asks adults to parent with presence and awareness instead of using traditional disciplinary techniques, although this is one aspect of my theory.
In my introduction to this series I asked how you might change your view of parenting if you knew that your child chose you and all of your unpacked raggedy, old, baggage before she was born because you are the best person to guide her through her soul journey? What if she chose you because of the traumas you’ve overcome, the skeletons in your family’s closet and even your poor health? And how does that change the paradigm of good vs. bad parenting?
Here’s a biggy…. what if all of the “crappy parents” are perfectly teaching their children the lessons they requested before birth??? I know, my brain is cramping up too.
Our dualistic human nature wants there to always be an either/or, a good/bad, a black/white. Non-duality thinking asks us to look for a third way…a “both/and” way and to swim in the murky gray waters. So does awakened parenting. It asks us to stop looking at parenting in terms of right and wrong, good and bad. It requires us to get outside of our dualistic thinking and look at soul growth; not just caring for this little creature, but nurturing a soul in its progression.
This is where the judgement caps need to come off (which is almost humanly impossible) and ponder that perhaps what society sees as a negligent parent might be just what the child’s soul requested. Of course we don’t want to see children abused and neglected, but again, I’m asking you to think outside of the human condition and view parenting from a soul to soul perspective.
This is not an easy task because your child wasn’t born with a lesson plan in hand spelling out what it wants to learn during its time here on earth. And if we’re not in tune to our own pre-selected “course requirements” we surely will not see what our child needs. Being born with no memory of the course description and no syllabus leaves you with a huge opportunity to fail. And that my friends is called free-will.
So I ask you to go back and think about how you were raised. What made your childhood blissful? What made it difficult? What did you learn from these experiences and how have they shaped you into the person and parent you are today?
Then take a deep breath…and realize… “Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti