How do your Ancestors support you on your parenting journey?
You and I have this in common: we’re learning and developing ourselves so we can support and love our children better. As we do this tender work of untangling ourselves from the hurtful stories we started believing when we were children, let’s not forget the gifts that our parents and grandparents passed down to us, the wisdom and strength that was seasoned over centuries. When we become more aware of ourselves, we recognize the areas in which our parents were unable to meet our needs and where our hearts were wounded. It's important that we find a balance between our desire to ‘parent better’ than previous generations and the need to honour what they’ve given us. Because, just as we have the powerful urge to raise our children to have safe, fulfilling lives, so did our ancestors. So did the settlers on the plains, the guild members, healers, bakers, coopers and washerwomen. So did the hunters, gatherers and weavers. “There is a heritage seed living in every one of us, a gift carried down a long line of ancestors. A tightly packed bundle of original instructions… But it lies dormant unless favourable conditions fertilize it.” ~ Tokopa Turner Parenting puts a mirror in front of you and makes you admit when you're stumbling and your parenting approach isn't working, at least not with this kid. It shows you patterns inherited from your family of origin and makes you wish that your childhood had gone differently. (I'm not referring to those who suffered abuse and are living with deep trauma, nor am I qualified to do so.) The fact is that we all lived in homes where parenting could've been done better. It's part of the job of each generation to notice what their parents were incapable of and where they lacked emotional maturity, self-awareness, good models, courage, time, etc. (Our kids are noticing this about us right now.) At the same time, we also received care, capabilities, lessons, traits, values and more. Feeling back into your lineage, what is living in you that was passed down to you from your ancestors? Is it perseverance, forgiveness, quick thinking or generosity? I invite you to pause here and name some of these. What do you carry because of the lives they lived and the children they raised? Some of my most valuable inheritances are my positive outlook, ability to see different perspectives and my deep connection to the land, which have supported me in many ways in raising my kids. And my childhood wounds? The places where the way I was parented didn't meet my needs caused me difficulty but also gave me the fuel to explore, experiment and eventually learn how to give what I didn't receive to myself and my children. This is an important question: What have your inheritances made possible for you? ~ Thinking more about this quote... What other heritage seeds might be lying dormant within you right now? What other gifts might be there for you in your DNA? What parenting wisdom is woven into your flesh and bones? Those aren’t easily answered questions. So, as is my way, I did a ritual to see what I might discover. I chose a quiet, early morning and placed citrine, selenite and garnet crystals and a beeswax candle on a cloth. I honoured the four directions, sang for a while and called in my spirit guides. I traveled into a deeper space, as I have learned to do, and saw a dragonfly, a bed of delphiniums and an elderly woman telling stories by a campfire. It didn’t make sense and didn’t need to. I just waited and watched. With the rise and fall of my breath, I eventually heard the cadence of the woman’s voice as she shared the tale. It felt familiar and mesmerizing. When she finished, she looked slowly around the fire and said, “You are the keepers of the stories, the story tellers.” And I realized she was talking to me. I’m not sure what it means yet - something about how I share knowledge with my kids. Dragonflies, one of the first species to take to the air, make me think of longevity and adaptability. Delphiniums connect me to my mom. And I’ve dabbled in storytelling a few times; am I being pointed in that direction again? I felt that something new was planted in me - I trust that it will emerge when the time is right. Ritual is one of my ways - what are your ways of accessing the wisdom and support of your ancestors? How would you like to call upon that deeper knowing? Maybe learning the song your grandpa used to whistle, sketching your great grandmother from a photo, writing down one of the stories you were told about them, spending some time beside their favourite lake... Our connection with the Earth and our ancestors are the threads that weave together our past, present and future. I have seen many times how rekindling ancient wisdom and practices helps us stay connected to that tapestry of life as we add our own threads and stitches (and prepare our kids to do the same). ~ “A tightly packed bundle of original instructions…” This seems to invite us to trust that we’ve got what we need for parenting our young adult children - these bright, unique beings - and for nourishing the next generation. If that’s true, if you already hold the wisdom and ability to parent this kid very well, what is it that you want to understand or be able to do now? What do you want to gain access to? What have you felt just below your surface that you want to experience more tangibly in your day-to-day life? Name it now - the way you’re longing to be in your parenting. Perhaps being more able to step back, tell the truth, accept their way, trust your instincts, lower your voice, let them fail, moderate your fears… Feel the potential within you. That you really can take a different approach and handle that kind of situation in a more connective way. Feel the possibility that lies just beneath the surface of your skin. You've already inherited what you need. So, what would be the “favourable conditions” to nourish the seeds that lie within you? Daily practices, like watering, that connect you to your Source. Uprooting old habits and old ways of thinking. Protecting what you’re growing. Maintaining your garden with exercise, sleep, nutrition and mindfulness. Noticing what’s pushing up through the soil and tending to it. Patience, trusting the sun, trusting Life. And gratitude.
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Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash