“Joy and Wonder are foundations of a healthy, satisfying life. To recognize, appreciate and foster a young child’s joy we must be in touch with our own joy.”
These comments opened our Parenting with Spirit workshop at the LifeWays Conference, in which we outlined the foundations for a path of joy in parenting. We looked at the importance of self-care skills for body, soul and spirit, recognizing that it is our own inner activity that creates the possibility of joy in human life, no matter what our given temperament, karma or life circumstances might be.
Caring for the body. We highlighted the importance of structuring family life rhythmically—having regular waking, meal and bedtimes and days that breathe (that is, days that alternate between times of activity and quiet times). We noted that to have a joyful life, we also need healthy habits for sleep, diet and exercise.
Caring for the soul. Here we suggested how crucial it is that we open ourselves with compassion to our negativity when it arises as well as consciously and regularly attending to methods for increasing our positivity. We reviewed how the brain is wired for negativity, so that everyone could recognize we’re all in the same boat! We also explored several child-friendly skills for self-regulation when triggered. We shared two primary paths for calming ourselves when we are triggered: methods for discharging the reactivity safely (even with children present) and activities for rebalancing ourselves in order to step out of our reactivity.
Caring for the spirit. We looked at how to work with the processes during sleep, the time when we and our children regularly connect with spiritual guidance. We offered suggestions about connecting with our child’s Angel to gain ongoing support for parenting. We also looked at the value of working with symbols in seeking spiritual guidance and connecting with the angelic realm.
We shared our Self and Child Observation and Imagination Exercise as well as a Heart Path meditation to give participants some hands-on experience with self-care skills. This opened some dialogue among our lovely group members.
We thank LifeWays for offering this conference and making a space for parents of young children to gain inspiration and practical support. We send heart-felt wishes to all parents of young children, that you might regularly create a joyful life with your young children!
We authored a practical, hands-on booklet for the conference, which has become Discovering Joy in Parenting: The First Seven Years (62 pages, $14.95 plus shipping, available through the LifeWays store; or you can contact us at email@example.com.
~ Joya Birns and Cindy Brooks