Today I am thrilled to have my dear friend and yogini Carrie Hensley of Dharma Connections share her parenting wisdom with us today.
Tell us a little about your family
We are a sweet family of three, my husband Chris, our son Drew, and me. We live in sunny Mesa, Arizona. We own a yoga studio & café, which has provided some fertile soil to stretch our relationships, provide Drew with his first job, and grow closer together as a family. We love anything outdoors from kayaking to four wheeling to camping. Currently, we are in the beginning stages of launching, as Drew is a sophomore in high school.
Describe as best you can what kind of parenting style you use
I would describe my style as holistic. I have always tried to view Drew as a whole being. Having taught yoga for fourteen years, I have come to understand the power of letting go of my expectations in order to create the space to allow Drew to become who he was meant to be.
What do you see your role is as a parent?
My role as a parent continues to evolve through the different ages for Drew. Right now, I would consider myself to be more of a guide than a parent. He is at a stage in his young life where he needs to begin to spread his wings of independence.
One of my greatest parenting mentors shared with me that, between the ages of 14-21, you want to treat your child like you would your best friend. Instead of getting irritated at him when he calls saying he forgot his homework, I ask myself what I would do for a friend. This particular instance happened about six months ago. Drew forgot something that was worth a good portion of his grade. I could hear the stress in his voice over the phone. He is an A student, on the track team, and even did a leadership program at Stanford this past summer so I was grateful for an opportunity to show him that I trust and believe in him. About two days later he forgot something else. I did not receive a phone call. When he recounted the story, I asked why he didn’t call me. He said he should have learned his lesson the first time around. This whole experience taught him that not only can he count on me but also that he has to depend on himself.
What has been the most difficult part of parenting for you and what helped you through this?
For me, the most difficult aspect of parenting is letting go of control. Often when there is resistance or a certain desired outcome, fear is lurking nearby. It might be my fear of failing Drew as a parent, fear of what others think of my parenting, or fear of Drew getting hurt (intellectually I recognize he will get hurt… but think mama bear in the wild who will do ANYTHING to protect her cubs), etc. that catapults my need to control and obsess.
Yoga and mindfulness are two tools that have “saved” Drew and me on numerous occasions. Both have helped me step back and observe, rather than react to, the source of my fear. As I come to understand the root cause of my need to control, I can let it go and trust the process to unfold as it needs to.
What has been the most rewarding part of parenting?
The most beautiful aspect of parenting has been to watch Drew evolve into all that he was meant to be… to see his soul dance behind his eyes… to know that he is content… to know that he is confident in who he is at his core and the path he is meant to follow. Can we ask for anything more as parents?
Twenty years from now, looking back at yourself as a younger parent, what helpful message would you share with yourself? What might you say to other parents?
Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do. You can read countless books and gather many different perspectives, but ultimately when you parent from your heart with the intention of guiding your child into who they were meant to be in this lifetime, the words will flow from your lips, the necessary resources will appear, and the support that both you and your child need will surface in ways you never dreamed possible.
Carrie is a wife to her best friend and mother to a beautiful son. She began teaching yoga in 1998. In 2005, Carrie co-opened Inside The Bungalow, yoga studio and cafe, with the intention of providing a Sacred space where students can come home to their own True Nature and uncover their journey of intention, authenticity, and reconnect to their life’s purpose.
If you like this post and think other parents would benefit from hearing different parenting voices please use the share buttons below! Be sure to join us next Thursday for another inspiring glimpse into parenting on the Listen to the Beat Within Guest Parenting Series!
The other day I came across a post on prayer flags which lead to my finding out about a prayer flag project. I liked the idea of letting our intentions for the world sway in the breeze, releasing it for all to witness.
For the Winter Solstice our family did a releasing ceremony where each of us wrote down what we wanted to let go of from the past year as we move into the next. For New Years I wanted the focus to be on the positive, sending out our wishes our intentions not just for ourselves but for the world. I wanted my boys to remember that they have the power to change the world, I wanted them to feel this by putting an action to their wishes and hopes for the world. And so we made prayer flags.
I explained to them that prayer flags are a way of putting your hopes for the world in a visual format, to share with others. I explained that they could have their prayer flag be about anything they wanted to wish for to happen in the world to make it a better place.
Immediately my eldest had an idea and began to work on his, while my youngest was doubtful that he would be able to express his on a flag. I talked him through his ideas asking him of what pictures he thought of when he thought of his wish for the world. This helped him. Below is a step by step Tutorial of how you can make a prayer flag with your family.
Here’s how you can make prayer flags with your family:
Gather your materials:
- a rectangular piece of cloth approximately 5″ x 11″ ( 3 of the 11″ will be folded over for a string to go through). We used old cloth napkins that I had and cut them to size.
- permanent markers, acrylic paints – the tackier (thick) paint works best, or fabric crayons
- flat Styrofoam tray that sometimes comes with produce (if you are doing a print like we did)
- pencil for drawing then etching (if you are making a print)
- glue gun or sewing needle and thread to make the fold that the string will go through.
Explain to your children what a prayer flag is: Keep it simple for younger children such as “a prayer flag is a way to share with the world your hope for something good you want to happen in the world”. For older children you may want to explain the origins of the prayer flag such as is done on the Creativity in Motion blog by Art Therapist Gretchen Miller. You don’t have to hold any particular religious beliefs to use prayer flags, it’s all about sending out your positive intentions for the world.
Have your children choose one focus, one positive thing that they would like to happen in the world. Have them focus on what they want rather than what they don’t want to happen in the world. So for example when my youngest spoke of his concern for climate change and the polar bears, and penguins having little ice to stay on, he visualized a picture of polar bears with a lot of ice, and penguins with lots of ice. In the end he chose to draw only the penguins.
Prepare the cloth by ironing it flat if there are wrinkles.
Fold over 1 1/2″ of the cloth & sew or glue down just the outer edge so that a sting can fit through it. Becareful of little fin gers the glue guns can get quite hot. Tip: there are low heat glue guns that are less hot but you have to work quicker.
Now have your child draw picture symbolizing their wish for the world:
They can do this several ways, free hand on the square with fabric crayons , or permanent markers or for a print have them emboss it into into the styrofoam.
Cut the edges off of the styrofoam tray so that it will be flat.
For younger children or to avoid disappointment with their picture, have your child draw it on paper the same size as your flag first and then either trace it from this drawing or have them copy it by etching it in.
To make a print its easiest to use one colour though you can try more than one. The etched in parts will not show paint when you make the print.
Flip and press evenly into the fabric. You can test your home made stamp on paper to see how it looks.
Make sure that if they want to write any words in the styrofoam tray that they write them backwards so that in a mirror you could read it (we forgot to do this).
Another way to make a print is to paint the picture on a piece of paper and press the paper onto the fabric, the trick is to use thicker acrylic paint and make the print before the paint dries (do not wet the brush or it waters the paint down too much for transferring the print). You can always add more paint, and draw or write with with permanent marker any additional embellishments after adding the print.
Once the flags are done and dry, put a string through the flags (a safety pin attached to a string and pushed through works well) and hang outside where it can blow in the wind, spreading your intentions for the world.
We would love to see what other families are making. If you like, you can post your family prayer flag photos on the Offbeatfamily Prayer Flag Flicker Group.
It never ceases to amaze me how much I can learn from my children. While I like to think they learn from me as well, I still need to remind myself how much they can figure things out themselves when given the chance. We would’nt give them the answers on a test, or do their homework for them.
Are our answers the only “answers”?
So why then is it so hard for us as parents to take a step back instead, and let them find their own solutions? Why do we feel the need to give them “the” answers? Are our answers the only “answers”?
We too need to look inside for the answers. Sometimes it is not so easy as a parent to do this. Sometimes we avoid looking inside for our own answers and we look to others instead. Looking for that perfect answer of what exactly we should do in a particular situation with our children. We second guess ourselves and miss what has been there all along, what is right in front of us: the answers are inside.
Look inside. I quarantee you will find the answer.