I am not sure I attempted abundant parenting as such when our daughter was young, but I
certainly moved towards it over the last ten years or so. I didn’t have that name for it of
course, I just shifted my thinking during mindfulness training and somehow redirected the learning to different aspects of my life.
This week I want to continue the theme of communication that Denise set up for us two
weeks ago and I touched on with limiting beliefs last week. One of the courses I am
currently following is by Marisa Peer, a world renowned therapist who quickly helps
children and adults to change their thinking and lead the lives they were destined to live.
I wonder if the lockdown has given us plenty of reflection time and the way we interact withour children may have changed…..subtly or dramatically. If so, it is quite possible that we have woken up to abundance.
Abundance is a general term used for health, relationships, wealth and living life to the full. If we as parents can encourage an approach to life’s ups and downs that reflects abundance then we are more likely to raise children that have less mental ill-health, feel more successful and give back to family, friends and society in a loving and caring way. That’s quite a tall order, but according to Marisa, it is really very simple.
The basic premise is that as a baby develops in the womb all needs are met. It’s cosy in
there, nourishment available on tap 24/7, the brain adapting to vibrations and sounds
within the womb and externally. For nine months or so the baby is wholly looked after
according to its own natural needs and thankfully, for the most part that growing foetus is
loved and very much wanted by the parent(s). The full term baby has experienced
abundance not scarcity. A perfect start to a perfect life!
Then, at the point of birth the baby is thrown into a relatively cold exterior, the shock firing
up the lungs with the first cry and the waiting carers take one look and are smitten. This
miracle of life is our child and we have every intention of meeting its’ needs the best way we can. So far so good.
Marisa then reminds us that in those early weeks and months the baby shows no guilt at
throwing up over your favourite jumper; pushing freshly mashed carrot into the carpet or
filling a nappy just as soon as you’ve changed it! In fact, this wonderful bond of delight often occurs when at some stage the baby giggles, gurgles, begins to make sounds that adults and other children seek to get repeated through interactions that place the baby firmly at the centre. In abundance terms, once again, all the growing babies needs are met – s/he is kept warm, fed, clean, and starts to recognise loving interactions.
Somewhere along the line practicalities set in, usually as we expand our children’s
encounters with others through family get togethers, pre-school and school. Somewhere
along the line our children learn guilt and of scarcity not abundance. And for many of us this builds up a framework of limiting beliefs that then limit us enjoying life to the full. For
example, when a child first asks for something that parents cannot afford in that moment,
quite naturally parents say, “we can’t afford that”. There seems no harm in this and in fact we may argue that we are ‘telling the truth’. But Marisa asserts that as a one off, maybe that’s ok but anything we repeat regularly is wired into the brain as a template for future behaviour. So a child that regularly hears “we can’t afford that” begins to believe that this is always true. They may of course respond in two ways, the first “when I grow up I will earn lots of money” or “I could never earn lots of money”. In a strange twist of fate, even the first response often leads to the adult earning more but letting money go quite quickly, so they become ‘broke’ very easily. Until they change their mindset.
Now I don’t know how you are feeling reading this, but I am beginning to feel quite
burdened! Am I really responsible, along with aunts, grandparents, teachers and my
daughters friends for her mindset on wealth, health and relationships? The easy answer is
yes, of course - but don’t get hung up on that because this isn’t about you – it’s about the
present moment awareness that these limiting beliefs have been installed in our children’s
brains, by many people, even by accident. Once we recognise that, we can do something.
The brain can be re-wired with relative ease, though repetition of abundant language and behaviour instead.
I have seen many posts on Facebook during the lockdown illustrating this exact recognition.
Stripped back from the everyday habits of mind and body, families are recreating ways to
entertain, to cut back creatively on expenditure - by noticing the abundance freely available in the sounds and sights of nature, the joy of reading a book together, dancing and exercising at home together. Phases one and two have given rise to more gratitude as the once ‘little things’ have become more prominent. Perhaps one benefit of the pandemic is that we have started to notice more, and our notion of scarcity may have been recognised or even changed.
The good news is, that we can start now, with language that supports abundant beliefs.
Repetition re-wires all our brains and our behaviour follows (or vice versa). When we take a present moment to reflect, or just look/smell/feel/taste/touch we can always find
something to be grateful for, we can encourage our children to do the same and as a family
really embody our abundant lives.