Glimmering Podcast

Where we learn out loud to love deeply, grow successfully, and live justly.

Parenting the Glimmering Way: Start with “Love Deeply”

This is the first in a series of what I'm calling "Parenting the Glimmering way: scattered thoughts with few conclusions." These are reflections on the intricacies of parenting using the Glimmering triad (Love Deeply, Grow Successfully, Live Justly) as a guide to instilling those same values in our kids.


The big question that Leslie and I had during the Identity series is, "How do we raise our kids so they develop their identities more authentically from an earlier age?"

Of course, this is a rather daunting question for people who are still parenting themselves into a more authenitic expression of identity. Can we even raise our kids well when we're floundering at raising ourselves?

I think so. I think that it probably makes us better parents to have these questions of identity top of mind. If we are reparenting ourselves with kindness and understanding, our kids will also feel our kindness and gentleness as we parent them.

{Sidenote: If your internal or external parent voice is mean and punitive, this is something therapy can help with. You and your kids both deserve better than what you're equipped to offer on your own; please get help. And if your parenting partner is ungracious and nasty, encourage them to get help and separate yourself and your kids from that trauma as much as you can.}

The parenting studies we referenced in the podcast all had similar conclusions: unconditional positive regard, high levels of trust+independence, a vested interest in the child's life/ambitions, and quality time/attention lead to the most positive outcomes (ie: kids who grew up to report higher academic achievement and salaries, and a higher level of overall happiness).

To me, this distills to: "Enjoy your kids as fellow human beings. Be curious and kind."

In fewer words, "Love Deeply."

I find that I'm much better at enjoying our kids if I stop enforcing a mental hierarchy of "I'm the parent." When I get into "parent mode," suddenly my brain shifts into a prison guard, looking for every minor infraction to point out or punish. Nobody enjoys that. But if I'm focusing on just being myself with the kids (and just Loving Deeply), the infractions that need to be addressed turn into learning moments where I can teach from a place of wisdom and experience, in kindness.

If we are commited to the unconditional positive regard of "Love Deeply," then we cannot use shame or fear to manipulate our kids.

This is an area of relearning for many of us who were raised in authoritarian homes or fundamentalist religions, where conformity was imperative and individualism often scorned.

When we were little, our parents defined our reality.

{Sidenote: It was a narrow reality for them, too; they were just as locked into the authoritarian regime, whether it was handed down by religion or cultural expectations or an internalized dictator shaming them at every turn. They passed it right on to us, either with their best intentions or their inability to evolve.}

If our parents said, "That Thing Is Bad," then, That Thing WAS Bad. Sometimes that Bad Thing, though, was our emotional need being expressed with antisocial behavior - perhaps as we writhed with sensory overstimulation on the grocery store floor.

"STOP IT RIGHT NOW," whisper-shouted our embarassed parent, yanking us up by the armpit, "WE DO NOT act that way in the grocery store!" We got whisked through the checkout line, buckled (extra roughly) into our carseats, and then lectured about how inappropriate (maybe even "BAD") our behavior had been, and how "little children who can't behave don't get to go on special trips."

Thus, our immediate, immense needs were overlooked in the moment of crisis; our parent's need for compliance was more important. We didn't get the chance to learn how to listen to our body's response to external stimuli, and be coached in self-soothing methods so we could navigate an overwhelming world with less trauma. No one acknowledged how hard we had been working to be good until we couldn't anymore.

No one saw us.

And so we internalized that our needs don't matter as much as performing for the audience, blending in with the crowd.

A lot of us are still healing from some variation of this upbringing. We need to grieve for our little overwhelmed selves; a lot of us still live in that space a lot of the time.

If, as a parent, I begin with "Love Deeply," then my first concern in that grocery store meltdown can be my kid's wellbeing. My heart is attuned to compassion, and so compassion is first to arise in a crisis: "Oh no, something is terribly wrong - look at the distress my child is exhibiting!" I will note my own distress rising with the shame of noncomformity: "Oh no, they're making a scene. I feel frantic to make this stop. Other people are being inconvenienced; I need to shrink. I need to hide. Make it stop; make it stop; make it stop!" And I will choose to Love Deeply before I do anything else.

{Sidenote: I mean, ideally. I've done my fair share of whisper-shouting and rough-buckling, too. And Love Deeply comes into play in that response as well; it's what prompts me to apologize to my kid for meeting their overwhelm with my own. To talk through how I could have handled it better. To ask them what would have helped. To reassure them that they are deeply loved and profoundly accepted even when I mess up in my ability to show it in the moment.}

I happen to get into this public meltdown type scenario quite a bit, and here is what has helped me: Realizing that almost everyone around me wishes they'd been parented with kindness and compassion, and that everyone around me wishes their current emotional breakdowns were met with kindness and compassion - by others, by themselves. When I am crouched next to my wailing child on the floor, gently helping them through their hardship, I am an emissary of Love. I am a beacon of compassion. "This is what it should be like. This is what we all deserve. Look at the truth of this!"

Love Deeply.

Love through the noise of the screaming and crying. Love through the sympathetic stares that your psyche always transposes into judgment. Love through the embarrassment and shame. Love through the desperate sadness that it may always be this way. Love anyway. Love always. Love.

Love.
Love.
Love.
Love.
Love.
Deeply.