The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Dr. Shefali Tsabary, PhD

The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Dr. Shefali Tsabury is a parenting book with a unique view on the parent-child relationship apart from the traditional “DIY disciplinary” books that have been on shelves for so many years.

Dr. Tsabury is a Clinical Psychologist well-known for mixing “Eastern mindfulness” and “Western psychology” into her personal practice with families. Her parenting philosophy is much more mindful and esoteric than it is a step-by-step process so if you are predominately looking for “Chore Charts” and daily schedules for kids, this is not the parenting book you are looking for. Unless you are Dalai Lama-level conscious, this book will make you really consider everything you think you know about parenting but only if you are willing to have an open mind and particularly an open heart throughout the process.

The main message of the entire book is that children are our greatest spiritual teachers; that if we step away from the old-fashioned ideas of total dominance-based parenting, that our children can teach us a great deal about ourselves and help us to become better people. The book tells us that our children can guide us in our own healing journeys because, in order to connect to our children, we have to first be able to connect to ourselves…and surprise, surprise – a lot of us have trouble with that one.

As Adult Children of Alcoholics, we usually have very skewed ideas about healthy parenting.  We haven’t seen it.  We haven’t experienced it.  We certainly don’t know how to do it. The very first message you read in this book is that there are no perfect parents and no perfect children and – you know what? I appreciate that message. This Dr. Tsabury is officially calling all of us out on being, you know, human.  So that’s good news – Yay! (Sigh of Relief)

When I was growing up, I always thought there had to be plenty of perfect parents and children and families out there. You know, like The Camden Family from the TV Show, 7th Heaven! (I was totally that kid who wanted to run away and live with the TV Family) When I became a parent myself, I was hell-bent (emphasis on the hell) on being the absolute best parent to my daughter because I was so crazy terrified that she would ever have to feel the way I felt as a kid. And guess what?  All my obsessiveness swung the pendulum way too far to the other side and I completely lost myself in “being a good mom” (and my fear of what would happen to my child’s emotional well-being if I wasn’t a good mom) for several years. Yes, definitely an emphasis on the hell…

Although I truly love the message of this book, I have to say that I found it hard to read. The writing was so conceptual and flowery at times that it lost me. I also feel like there was a lot of repetition and that the pace of the book was generally slow.  I found myself thinking “Okay, so when do we get to the part where we apply all of this?” but it didn’t really ever come.  To be fair, there are questions in the back of the book that you can answer which I think is great. As a reader, I just felt like I wanted more.

I did, however, absolutely love reading the stories of parents and children that Dr. Tsabury has worked with in the past. I wish these examples would have been more prominent throughout the book and that they would have been more detailed. I also really enjoyed the numerous lists of affirmations and questions sprinkled throughout the book to help the reader process the material – they were very helpful for me.

If you feel drawn to this book at all, then I would say it is worth the read. Even with the complaints I have about it, I also had some “goosebump” moments when something that was written spoke to my heart as a daughter and as a mother. However, I also think that you could potentially skip around and read parts that interest you based on the table of contents …that is just my opinion. At the end of the day, I am glad I took the time to read this book and I do think it can help people gain a new perspective on the parent-child relationship. Dr. Tsabury does have additional books and I am curious to read them. When I get around to it, you’ll hear about it here.

Whether you’re reading this as a parent or as an Adult Child or both, I want you to know that you’re not alone if you struggle in these relationships; the parent-child dynamic can be really difficult for many of us but I believe we can learn and grow and the relationships can get better. Stay hopeful – huge transformations can start with you.

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