Developing Resilience – A Shamanic Parenting Story
I became a young Mother quite suddenly, but the more challenging aspect of it was coupling a spiritually fulfilled life while being a single parent. At the time of writing this article, my son has grown to the ripe age of 9 years old, and I am continually blessed for his existence here on this planet. I will share with you my heart, my growth and evolution as a parent. I invite you to join with me as I share my background and the struggles of raising an aware child in a society that does not cherish the sacred. I do not come from an indigenous background, but like so many other contemporary Shamanic Practitioners, I come from a broken lineage in an emotionally distant family of origin. Trying to piece together a spiritually fulfilling life while raising a little one can be challenging on its own, but here are some of the lessons and wisdoms that I have distilled from this experience so far, and I’m sure that I will be continuously growing this wisdom base.
With all great stories, we will start with the beginning. The conception of my son was surrounded by confusion, blame, trauma, and chaos. It took me years to understand the emotional baggage I carried with me. Many of my early years of raising him were scary and through the eyes of a child, because I had the emotional maturity of a child. It turned out to be a very magical experience because he is such a blessing to me. Not at the time, of course, but we always have a better view of things in hindsight. It was a challenge raising him since he was emotionally and spiritually sensitive. He was fussier than other babies, sensitive to people having a bad mood, and seemed “tuned in” naturally to the world around him. The blessing behind this meant it was easy to have age-appropriate discussions with him about energy hygiene, maintenance, and the natural world. I saw him for the true light of what he is and I have done the best I could in raising him.
In essence, I taught him things that I was teaching myself, except I would ask my guides to help the teachings be age-appropriate. I was always surprised at the ease and grace of which he answered to some of these meditations and suggestions that I reeled with for a week or two before I “got” them. He helped me develop that sense of ease and wonder, and “growing up” was less scary for me. Years later, as I reflect on that, it seems to be that with true self-healing as an adult, you have to “deprogram” yourself from what society, culture, and your family give you as core beliefs. My son constantly reminds me about deepening my roots and going back to the childlike sense of wonder—the “original” program we get handed by Spirit. In my life, he has been my greatest teacher.
I taught him how to journey at a very early age, and I remember him having to think on who his first helping spirit was. He said he felt them during the first journey, but couldn’t see them quite yet. Knowing that it was possible I could project something on him, I tried to distract myself with other things while he tried to journey again to find out who was playing with him. It made me so proud that by the time he curled into bed that night before story time. He stated plain and simple that his helping spirit was a bear. One of my main helping spirits is a bear, and hence he became my “Little Bear.”
In the early years, it was easy to keep him on the same spiritual path as me. He was joyful, loving, filled with inspiration and hope. Before the age of 6, he loved to journey and dance with me, doing the same activities as I did, and liked taking walks in the woods or talking to trees. But then he started going to school. I prepped him for it, because I noticed his eagerness in telling almost anyone that would listen about the amazing adventures he and his helping spirits would go on. Discernment was a good age-appropriate lesson about how sometimes other adults might not think the same way Mommy does, and he should be careful about whom he shares those thoughts/opinions with. He understood this on one level, but experiencing it in a public school system is a different story. Running home from the bus, he came home crying because another kid made fun of him about talking to his helping spirits under his breath. He immediately started disconnecting from the spiritual, pulling away and resisting me instead of joining along. It wasn’t until years later that I started connecting the dots.
When he stopped responding positively to a lot of the things we used to do together, it became a chore. I started leading journey groups, and instead of it being “fun” for him like it used to be, he would commonly get bored, and occasionally would get disruptive. The meditations we did together were no longer fulfilling; instead it became a thing that “my Mom does” and he would start rolling his eyes whenever I suggested it. The helpful tips that he used to look up at me to give, soon became disregarded. Talking back and becoming rude were growing steadily more frequent. The reflection this made within myself became a pile of frustration, angst, and self-blame. I wasn’t doing enough to make my kid more connected. It was “my fault” for not focusing hard enough on him, even though I thought I was doing all of the right things to feed, clothe and house him.
As I finally came into my own with my Shamanic Path, I found that it was an echo within myself that my son was reflecting back to me. He is the closest emotional connection to any human that I have, and that hasn’t changed for 10 years (I connected with him very deeply while he was in my womb). As I dove deeper into a contemporary Shamanic cosmology, I found that a lot of the threads I was bringing up were pulling up this constellation of factors that were also reflected in society. Because I was working on them within myself, my son (who is extremely open and emotionally sensitive) reflected the counterparts to the very pieces I was working on. I realized that when I was raising him previously, that he was modeling for me the very illnesses that I was trying to combat within myself. Some main ones being greed, entitlement, addiction to technology, and doing things to “prove” himself to his friends. It wasn’t until I engaged at this depth of understanding that I was able to re-prioritize a way to make him feel like his needs were being met in a way that we could explore this context together. I was exploring the depths of my own Shamanic world while leaving him out of it—which I found that for me was the wrong approach to come from. He is a part of my world, and thus is a crucial part for me to understanding myself.
As soon as I began to cultivate a deeper sense of compassion within myself for the grander vision of the situation I was in, he was of the age where he could make informed decisions about this on his own (this started around age 7). To remedy his pain and insecurities about being teased for having helping spirits in the first place, I found and networked with other parents who openly discuss these spiritual things with their children. I found family-friendly festivals where he could participate in group ritual. If things got to be really challenging and I wasn’t able to find something in the area, I invited him to participate with me during group rituals and ceremonies online via webcasting. As soon as he was able to see that there were other kids that were doing this with him, and he wasn’t the only one with a weird Mom, he slowly started coming back to opening up. Just as finding community strengthened me, finding community also strengthened his connection to Spirit.
When I stopped trying to force his healing because I thought something was “wrong with me” and my parenting skills, I opened up to the fact that there was something bigger going on. I started examining what about the situation was I taking personally, and kept asking my helping spirits questions about how I could improve my relationship with him. This way it didn’t infringe upon me “forcing” things to happen, and instead switched it to “allowing” things to happen. When I organically used the Shamanic principles I was learning from my teachers and applying them in my own life, I deconstructed and then reconstructed a way that allowed my son into the picture easily and effortlessly. I found that what I was doing before was just slapping together different aspects of living a Shamanic life and expected that it was enough. It wasn’t until I leaned into the teachings and allowed all aspects of my life to become Shamanic, did I realize that had a dramatic impact on my relationship with my son. I give great gratitude to the Cycle teachings and Christina Pratt for really driving that home. My own healing catalyzed as soon as I took root in a true Shamanic community that came together to live the same principles. It was the shift in realization that living a Shamanic way of life couldn’t just be condensed to my healing practice, but also opened up to every relationship that I had, seeing the interconnectedness of it all. The best service I did for my son was to step into a true transformational process and see how I brought my true lifes purpose into all avenues of my life, not just certain “chosen” parts.
I originally was trying to prevent him from seeing me in my deep healing, even though he was feeling it without naming it. It wasn’t until later when I noticed that when I was upset, he was acting it out. Christina teaches that young children ground to the parents because they don’t have their own sense of grounding. They depend on us to tell them what’s right and wrong, what is dangerous and what is not. Which means that we have to model for them how to live in a sustainable way. If we want to teach our kids a better way of being, we can’t take their reflections personally. We need to develop the skills that allow us to model a deeper change we want to see in the world. What I was doing before was only allowing a Shamanic life into parts of my life instead of letting it affect my whole life. I was marginalizing myself subconsciously, and in that my son modeled for me the marginalization within our relationship.
Reflecting out into the wider scope of entering a public school, if he marginalizes aspects of himself, does that really set him up for success in being able to handle criticism? I don’t outwardly view this as something as “bad,” because I find that putting challenges in front of him makes him a stronger kid. What we should be teaching kids is resilience. Children are naturally resilient to begin with, but when they start inheriting our inability to process emotions, to be taught to “hide” things because other people might not accept them fully, then we have to ask if this is sustainable. Are we truly raising children who can dream of a better dream than us adults have? Or are we raising another generation that a different version of the same thing, inheriting the generational backwash of unresolved energies?
What I have found that works for my child is a rich engagement in the activities I am doing. Going to Spirit and asking directly how I can involve him in the things I am doing now. Admittedly in the beginning of my Shamanic path, I was using my Shamanic trainings as a way to “get away” from having to be a parent, and just an opportunity to be me. As I came to a deeper understanding of myself in the world, I realized that my son is an expression of me. One with his own brain and heart. He has the ability to make his own choices, but I can’t force them. What I can do as a parent is model them as best as I can for him and to allow him to choose his own path.
Our job as parents is not to protect our children for life. It’s to give them the tools that they can help understand their context within the greater aspect of the Universe. Why not involve your kids with your transformative processing? Why not share, be open and more vulnerable with them? If you have helping spirits, try asking them how to make the conversation age appropriate so they can understand what is happening. Most of them do, but they have to have permission from adults to feel into those experiences and be able to name them so they can share and know it’s okay. The more we teach them to be independent and go to Source themselves when they are ready, the more we are empowering them to lead a rich life.
To teach our children to have depth, we have to have depth ourselves. To understand the proper way to raise a child also means to understand the cultural illnesses at hand that influence these greater aspects of our society and how we can better engage with our children to make them more resilient to them. When we build the foundation of mental wellness in our society, we begin to build structures that innately repel mental illness by their very existence. What we need to do, in my opinion, is ground these actions in ourselves as adults first, and then model them for our children. We need a more engaging way to bring Spirit into our daily lives.
Change the dream of one generation, and we can change the world.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
But seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
As living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
And He bends you with His might
That His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
So He loves also the bow that is stable.
2 thoughts on “Developing Resilience – A Shamanic Parenting Story”
May 4, 2018 at 5:21 pm
I love your Little Bear posts. I may not have mentioned this before, but I (and I think my GF as well) have observed your mothering very closely, almost from the first time we met you, really. It’s rare to find someone who models healthy and mindful/shamanic parenting, and it is perhaps one of the main things I’ve tried to learn from you and respect/love you for!
May 4, 2018 at 6:21 pm
Aww thanks J 🙂 You’re much appreciated and loved for that. Sometimes we don’t see our own beauty unless it’s reflected in the words of someone else. Gratitude.