What Are Your Kids Doing for You?


In parenting we are entrusted with the awesome responsibility of the multifaceted growth of our children, but what often goes overlooked is the opportunity that parenting provides in the development of ourselves.

I would never claim to be a parenting expert. Like most mothers, I’ve had many moments I am proud of, and many moments I wish I could rewind and replay. I do, though, consider myself an introspective parent. I find that most of the moments that I feel I’ve succeeded in parenting stem from my own healthy inner state, and most of what I get “wrong” usually stems from a state of disruption. In relating with my kids, it seems as if they are holding up a mirror to show me exactly what I hold within at any given moment.

We all want to do our best for our children, but at some point we realize that perfection in parenting is a fantasy. We can let go of perfection and look instead toward growth. Growth lies in honest exploration of our reactions to the situations that parenting so naturally presents: “Why did that bother me? Why did I respond that way? What do I need to see?” In the exploration that comes with parenting, we are taking the first and most important step of personal development, know thyself.

It is easy to remain in a state of calm in most of our auxiliary relationships, but the relationship between parent and child is extremely close, and the energy of this intimacy is powerful. Our closest relationships will expose the inner self, both that which is pure and that which is wounded. The parent-child experience will expose us to the depths of our core. In our most essential relationship we are repeatedly given a truthful view of all we hold within. When we make it our practice to use our everyday experiences for self-inquiry, we may begin to expose grander themes of our inner landscapes. These realizations are powerful in our development. With our children we are exposed again and again, and given countless opportunities for introspection; hopefully, more deeply each time.

This process of seeing all that we hold within can be visualized as a tidying up of our inner worlds. As we tidy up, the contents of the room remain the same, but through our efforts we can see our “stuff” more clearly. Bits are not hiding in corners, and we are not tripping over a mess scattered about. In inner clarity, we may be released from the sort of robotic control of our reactionary nature which is usually driven by that which we don’t see.

As we become clear within, we quickly begin to see how our inner state impacts everything around us. We start to understand the reversal of a commonly held sentiment; ‘right’ action does not bring peace. Instead, peace brings right action. To “act” motherly, to “act” selflessly, is living torture. Through inner clarity, action arises in authenticity, and to a degree we experience a bit of freedom from our everyday struggles.

In mining your inner landscape, there is the potential for freedom and great joy. Work with your children. Your children are part of the design of your growth process; they help you to see all that lies within. The state of clarity you get from your growth in parenting is one of the rich rewards of life. When we deny ourselves this process, we rob ourselves of the growth experience of parenting.


Kelly Van Zandt, is the author of the new book Powerful Postpartum.

Kelly is a mother, doula, and spiritual mentor. In her new book, Powerful Postpartum, Kelly presents a fresh and empowering perspective on the postpartum period as one filled with tremendous potential for growth and an opportunity to rediscover the woman’s truest essence.

To connect with Kelly, please visit www.kellyvanzandt.com or follower her on social media @powerfulpostpartum

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