The Secret to Conscious Parenting with Robbin McManne
child, experiencing, parents, parenting, people, peaceful parenting, mindset, feeling, true, behavior, brains, relationship, parenting expert, feel, thought, growing, mind, triggered, kids, robin
Virtually every parent I’ve ever met is looking for inspiration on how to be a better parent and how to create a peaceful environment for their children, giving them the best possible start in life. Robbin McManne is a certified parenting expert, coach, author, podcaster, and speaker who works in this area. She sits on the expert panel for Newsweek magazine, where she contributes articles related to parenting while also providing her services internationally for the personal development app, Live More. Robbin’s work focuses on building and strengthening the parent-child relationship so that children grow up with resilience, confidence, and strong emotional intelligence. We had a great interview with her recently.
Q: Robbin, thank you so much for joining us! There are so many people who are following you and aligning themselves with your wisdom. Can you tell us how you got to this point as a parenting expert? What brought you to this place in your career and your journey?
A: Well, I certainly didn’t start out as an expert when my first son was born seventeen years ago. When I became a mom, I had this thought that I’d be a natural, but after being ten days overdue, two days of labor, and an unexpected C-section, I started to spiral. I wasn’t able to soothe or comfort my beautiful boy, and I was in so much pain from the surgery that I began to feel a lot of shame. Shame that I wasn’t cut out for this or that I couldn’t do this. I thought I could do this without any issues, but I was so wrong. I had read about women with postpartum, but never thought it could happen to me. Today, my oldest son is neurodiverse (if you want to put it in a container or categorize it), but it took us years to get help with understanding his processing and behavior. Once we did, we were told that it was our fault, as parents. This just folded more into what I was dealing with as a new mom.
However, through that pain, I finally found this world of conscious and peaceful parenting. I was able to accept my experience and who my child is, as opposed to fighting it. I don’t always know the answers, I don’t always love being a mom, and that’s okay to say that. That changed everything for me. And now, I’m able to help parents do the same thing, so they don’t feel stuck in shame, feeling like they’re not good enough, or like they’re at a loss and are worried about their child’s future.
Q: It’s amazing that you were able to shift your focus and make your experience something to learn from. You mentioned conscious or peaceful parenting. Can you tell us more about that?
A: Conscious parenting starts with the fact that we will parent the way we were parented until we are intentional and aware of our thoughts, our words, and to respond rather than react. Being conscious allows us to slow down and notice our thoughts that come and go. Sometimes we as parents want to attach untrue thoughts to the circumstance, and that takes us further from our goals and how we should view our children.
I teach parents that a situation is not good or bad but to look at their child’s behavior as communication. It’s the child’s way of telling the parent that a need isn’t being met, there are invalidated feelings, or they don’t have the skill set to do better yet. Children are growing into their brain functions up into their twenties, so they often don’t have the ability to regulate emotions, understand and articulate their feelings, or have impulse control. When parents are able to learn those things, their children can be taught too. We don’t need to punish or future parent them, which means taking behaviors you see today because we don’t know what the future holds. Going moment to moment ensures our future well-being for our children and for ourselves.
Q: I would agree! A few episodes ago, we were discussing the stages of adult development proposed by Robert Kegan, and in the earlier stages when we’re young children, everything for us is all about the “I” and we are the subject to focus on. But, as we get older, there are different capacities for learning, allowing us to become more aware of how we intersect with others around us. Broadened awareness is just part of growing, so when we are young, it’s not that we’re being stubborn, but it’s just that our capacities aren’t yet developed like you mentioned. When you mentioned future parenting, that seems like it could be based in fear—would you agree?
A: That’s exactly right, Laura. Engaging in future parenting, trying to parent the unknowns, takes us out of the present moment and leaves us without rational thought. When we become parents, we’re not told that our child’s behavior is egocentric and temporary. We need to have patience with them and realize that while we may feel triggered, controlled, or coerced by our child, it’s just communication to us that there’s a need not being met. Their behavior is not about us, and we have to step outside of this egocentric place as well. Fortunately, our kids give us a real opportunity to heal our own past. There’s no better relationship than parent-child where you’re invited to heal through your own pain.
Q: Wow, there’s so much to unpack! If we think about a child displaying a certain behavior, it can be hard not to take it personally, but you’re right; it’s not about you. It’s just where they are in their stage of development, and we are here to nurture and foster their capacities while they’re still growing.
It’s the same with goal achieving, in general. We’re all human, and there are circumstances that may invite us to react versus respond with anyone in our lives. We may feel triggered to react to that person, whether it be with a daughter, nephew, boss, coworker, or whoever it may be. But these are also opportunities to heal.
You touched on the influence of how we ourselves were parented on our own parenting style. If we aren’t doing the vital mindset work needed because we’re on autopilot, we’ll end up repeating the same old patterns. Most of our behavior is habitual when we’re older, and often being triggered makes us go into autopilot. Our old paradigms are then running the show, and we aren’t being intentional. If we step outside ourselves to notice the need not being met, we can then start to find some solutions. What would you say to a parent who wants to be more intentional with their child?
A: Well, for the parent audience that may relate, I often think about when I was burnt out and ended up freaking out on my child, but I never remembered it. It wasn’t in my thinking brain because I was in a mode of survival. We begin using survival-level tactics for everyday family life. It’s important to remember that parenting is not an emergency day to day. We can slow down and process this moment with our child, and that doesn’t make us weaker or less in control.
You often mention that the subconscious is wired, and it’s what’s driving the bus. We mostly operate from the places we were hurt the most unless we’re willing to evaluate those. I look on two sides, that of the child and that of the parent. When you’re triggered, there’s the opportunity to ask yourself, Why am I triggered? What is my child actually asking me for? What am I feeling, seeing, experiencing with my child? Is that in alignment with their feelings and experiences? That’s the real work.
I came up with a system called the Parent PASS. It’s an acronym for Pause, Ask, Show empathy, and Solutions. When you’re first faced with a problem, pause! It gives you time to reflect on what you’re feeling. Ask yourself and then your child, ‘What is this about for me? For my child?’ I show empathy to my child but also to myself because it can be hard! And we should be finding solutions by working together with our children to figure out a better way of doing things. It shows our children they are loved and respected.
Q: That is a great way to frame those situations for parents and for us as fellow humans. I remember when I was one year old and lying in a crib, that my household was tumultuous, things were thrown around and I remember how I felt. Things like that stay with you until you can really pinpoint it and unpack what that means for you as a parent, coworker, boss, etc. Children are absorbing information constantly and pick up how those around them label situations, think, and behave. What are some of the things that people have experienced through this process that you guide them through?
A: It is always an incredible journey from start to finish. A parent will come to me and say, “My child does not listen,” or “My child is so difficult.” Sure, times may be difficult! I pull from what you teach, which is that you’ve got to remind yourself and repeat that your child is just learning or that you can do this. Having clients reframe to eliminate limiting beliefs is so important. Our inner dialogue could be costing us a hefty price.
We can change those operating systems, but we do have to be repetitive so that you can see your child in a different way. You do it for your child and yourself!
Many of us are still impacted by labels from our childhood, and we have to do the myth-busting. I was told by my family that I was selfish, so I thought that to be true and began pleasing people, wanting others to like me. However, I wasn’t in alignment with myself or my truth. Digging deep to evaluate your own self and why you operate the way you do will help you shift your perspective of your child and strengthen that parent-child relationship.
Q: You are so right. Repetition is vital when carving out new neural pathways to create new habits. It’s like that old worn-out path that I walked when I went to the beach in Kailua, Hawaii. If I wanted a new path, I could begin carving out one in the grass. By walking the makeshift path each day, it eventually would become visible and smooth. The coaching aspect of this is so important, too. We can only go as far as our level of awareness will take us. If you’re struggling with this as a parent or resonating with this, please reach out to Robbin, and she will walk you through every step of the way. Is there anything else you can say to parents who may be struggling right now?
A: Well, being a parent is the most important job we do, and we do it without any studying or preparation. Peaceful parenting may sound very passive, but it’s not! It’s not about letting your kids run the show but about empowering them and honoring who they are, not who you think they should be. Some hurt from the past could be hindering growth in the parent-child relationship, and I am a supporter of drilling down into that with my parent clients. You learn so much in the process for yourself.
We can always be better, elevate our level of awareness, and learn from others. And thankfully, our mindset can always adjust. It is hard work and at times uncomfortable, but be uncomfortable doing the work because you’re uncomfortable already. There’s nothing that feels better as a parent than to feel deeply connected with your child. When parents are thriving, our children are thriving, our businesses are thriving, and so is our community.
Q: Amazingly said, Robbin! How can people contact you if they’re interested in some of your guidance?
A: You can go to parentingforconnetion.com to contact me. I’m also on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. I would love to talk to any parents that feel they could use some support. No judgment or criticism; I’m just there to help you to create that connection with your child and get the cooperation you’re looking for because that’s important.
As always, we’ll wrap up by taking inspired action. If you’re thinking about relationships in your life, maybe there’s one where you’d like to see some improvement because you’ve been struggling. Imagine that this relationship has already grown and evolved, so you’re in alignment with your vision of this relationship. There are no obstacles, but you’re just operating in harmony, with mutual love and respect. How is the other person experiencing you? What kind of energy is in the space you’re creating together? This is your reality. Say something or do something that’s in alignment with this scene in your head, then write it down so you can take inspired action and live more joyfully, freely, and lovingly.
Reach out if you have comments for me; I would love to hear from you. Also, look out for my upcoming book: Rat Race Reboot: Unlock Your Full Potential to Achieve Impossible Goals, this spring! Sign up here (https://lauranoelcc.com/ratracereboot) to be the first to know when it drops! Remember, everything is created twice. First in your imagination and then in physical form.