I remember meeting Mihaela Plugarasu earlier this year, during a virtual activity organized by Vital Voices Miami and WEvolution. We immediately connected as authors, communicators, and moms of boys. She invited me to review her book Conscious Parenting of Your Toddler: Strategies to Turn Discipline into Growth and Connection (2020) and it helped me discover who I am as a mother, changed my parenting style, and changed my family as a whole forever.
I wanted to share her insights with you, so I interviewed her for our blog and I will be speaking with her today at 12m on Instagram Live. Enjoy her answers below:
How can we unlearn the way we were raised to then become more conscious parents?
This is the million dollar question, isn’t it?! Let’s begin with the definition of Conscious Parenting as I write in my book:
Conscious Parenting is a relationship-based process in which parents look inward and choose to expand their self-awareness and leadership with the inevitable results of connection, authenticity, and personal evolution for both the child and the parent. Conscious Parenting is not about being perfect (perfection in parenting simply doesn’t exist) or having all the “right” answers; it’s about looking inward and being at-peace with the process of self-inquiry. Thus, conscious parenting is self-parenting.
So, the answer to your question is Self-Parenting or Re-Parenting ourselves. I know that most people don’t feel comfortable with this answer, and that’s normal. The human brain is designed to “keep us safe”. The illusion of “feeling safe” comes from what’s familiar to us. And so, self-inquiry/ self- discovery is scary usually for two reasons:
- Either: we don’t know what we’ll find and that’s paralyzing in itself;
- Or: we know our past trauma and our wounding, but we run away from the pain that’s required for the healing to take place.
In order to un-learn what we’ve learned when we were children ( by the way we were raised), we need to find the courage to do so. For me, a conscious parent is the ultimate authentic leader. They require the same qualities:
- Deep listening abilities
- Trust in the self and others
- Compassion for the self and others
- Judgement-free mindset
- Learner’s mindset
- Commitment to personal growth and self-awareness
- Communication skills
- Seeing the other as a mirror for self-improvement
- Prioritizing win-win relationships
- Punishment-free problem solving
- Being driven by a higher purpose.
I tell parents all the time: you are a leader: of your own life, your family, your relationships, your personal path. It’s OK if we can’t see these qualities in ourselves all at once. Pick one, focus on it, get coached if needed and START TODAY. Not tomorrow, not on January 1st. Today. Just start.
What do we do when our partners or other family members have a different parenting style?
I address this question in my book under Conscious Co-Parenting, which I’m very passionate about because I am a divorced mom. It was very important for me to work on my co-parenting relationship and shift it from toxic and difficult to collaborative, mutually respectful and based on open communication. It didn’t happen overnight, by no means, but it was so worth it! A child loves both mom and dad equally, and it is a child’s birth right to benefit from both parents’ love and connection.
Despite popular belief, most married couples are on “different pages” when it comes to parenting styles. You don’t have to be divorced to need help on how to co-parent consciously. With that said, again, most people don’t like my answer but it is a scientific and spiritual fact: we can’t change anybody but ourselves; we have zero control over what another person does, says, thinks or feels.
So, step one: acceptance. You can’t change your husband/wife or mother-in-law.
Step two: begin your own process of self- inquiry and healing by asking yourself these questions:
- Am I honoring my boundaries and theirs in this relationship?
- Am I honest with them? Do I mean what I say?
- Did we agree ahead of time on protocols for asking for help from each other?
- What blind spots do I bring in this relationship?
- What is this person mirroring back to me, about me?
What do you recommend for parents who want to avoid any kind of trauma to their kids?
Avoiding family trauma is the holy grail of personal healing, i.e., conscious parenting.
It all starts with ourselves and our commitment to our own healing. There is no magic pill here; no magic formula; no ‘guru’ can do it for you. But you can, and here’s how:
- Make the commitment to healing your trauma first.
- Get a therapist, a coach, a teacher, a program- you need guidance and nobody can do this alone.
- Be patient.
- Learn to have self-compassion.
- Learn tools for connection with your children.
Would this conscious parenting work in older kids?
Absolutely. It’s never too late to repair and save a lost relationship with our child. All children, no matter the age, want to feel loved and attached.
What parenting support systems do you recommend?
I recommend and invite parents to join my Conscious Parent Accelerator starting January 2021. It’s transformational and like no other parenting support program: I’ll be by your side in -perpetuity ( no expiration date on your access to me and to the course); I coach you, educate you and guide you in this process. I also teach parents tools for connection with their children – in the heat of the moment, when parenting gets the hardest. You will also belong to a community of parents with the same mindset as you: committed, heart-centered and intentional. All parents need and deserve support, and I am creating this support in my course.
Thanks Mihaela for sharing your expertise and wisdom!
To connect with Mihaela and ask her questions about the Conscious Parent Accelerator, you can DM her on Instagram at @mihaelapl ( https://www.instagram.com/mihaelapl/) , Facebook at Parenting Made Conscious or email her a direct message via the Contact form on her website ( https://mihaelaplugarasu.com).
Remember to join us at noon today on Instagram Live!
Mihaela is an educator with more than 15 years of leadership, self- development and teaching experience. She is also a mom, a co-parent and a college professor with teaching experience in the United States, Europe and Latin America. Her two core values are growth and education.
Mihaela is the 1-st certified parent educator for parenting-by-connection in Florida, by Hand in Hand Parenting. In this role, she facilitates parent support groups, workshops, classes and individual work with families. She uses her own ABC of Conscious Parenting to help parents get started on this journey: self-Awareness, Be-ing Present and Connection. She teaches parents to use listening tools and compassionate self – inquiry to connect with themselves and their children, especially when parenting feels hard.
Mihaela is the founder of Parenting Made Conscious, a community of conscious parents who come together to learn, evolve and create a connection-based relationship with their children. Her first book, Conscious Parenting of Your Toddler: Strategies to Turn Discipline into Growth and Connection ( 2020), is now available on Amazon.