Thursday, April 25, 2013

Parenting with the Power of I AM

I send my kids into the world equipped with self-worth and shame-resilience.
Early in my parenting role, I had the opportunity to take Science of Mind classes at the Center. In class, Dr. Heather made the power of I AM abundantly clear, explaining that when we refer to the I AM we are talking about our Self, the "Self" in self worth. Yes, it's true! We are building our mind's belief about who we really are. So anytime we state "I AM" and then put words like...tired, wrong, bad, stupid, lazy, fat...behind it we are defining our self concept.

That made so much sense to me and I immediately became more conscious and mindful about how I defined myself and others. In our home, we outlawed words like stupid and dumb. And, I recognized that "you are" is just as powerful as "I am" especially coming from a parent.

Fast forward about 10 years.

Those who follow the blog know I'm reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. In Daring Greatly, she has a chapter on wholehearted parenting and talks about raising shame-resilient children. On page 225 she tells a story about her daughter Ellen and an experience she had at school that offered me a perfect example.

When Ellen was in Kindergarten, her teacher called me at home one afternoon and said, "I totally get what you do now."

When I asked her why, she said that earlier in the week, she had looked over at Ellen, who was in the "Glitter Center" and said, "Ellen! You're a mess." Apparently Ellen got a very serious look on her face and said, "I may be making a mess, but I'm not a mess."

AHA! Now I must admit, even though I understood the power of I AM and redirected my children based on action not character, I never really quite got the rephrasing until now. Reading this was a powerful moment for me.

Do you see the difference? It moves our thinking from defining ourselves or our children, to creating a changeable moment. So, for instance, instead of staying "I am wrong" we could change it to "I said the wrong thing" or "I made the wrong choice." I AM still lovable, worthy, good, right, whole, but sometimes I do things that I can change.

Even though I didn't totally "get" the rephrasing as clearly as I do now, I did choose to bring my family to the Center every Sunday. And Rev. Pattie bases the youth program around recognizing God qualities and speaking them with "I AM" statements like I, power, love, peace, abundance; the real truth of who they are.

My children might encounter shame-based interactions out in the world, but in those moments, I want them to respond like Ellen did and know "That's not the truth of me! I am Magnificent! I am Perfect!"

Just in case you've forgotten your magnificence, here's Jami Lula to remind you!

Was reading this an AHA moment for you? Are you reading Daring Greatly? Did Jami Lula's song remind you? I would love to know what you took away from this post or the book. Join the conversation in the comments.