We recently had the opportunity to talk to Goldie Shawel, a grandmother who came into the conscious parenting movement a few years ago as a grandmother. We were intrigued to find out that conscious parenting is not just for parents of young children. As Goldie explained, it made perfect sense. A parents job is never really over and how you approach those moments of connection, even with your adult children, really makes a difference.
Nurture: Tell me a little bit about yourself…
Goldie Shawel: I was born in Cleveland, Ohio to parents who were Holocaust survivors. My parents had five children. I had a challenging childhood–my parents couldn’t process what they had been through and had no peace. Sadly, it robbed them of much of their lives. Financially we were fine, but emotionally they were never available to me the way I needed them.
Not understanding the effect of my parents experience on their parenting ability and style, I created a similar life for my 5 kids. I was always physically present with them but wasn’t able to connect with their essence they way they, and I, deserved.
Now all my kids are married and now I have 12 amazing grandchildren who call me Nana.
N: How did you hear of Conscious Parenting?
GS: I heard Dr. Shefali Tsabary on Oprah one day and thought “Ok, I messed up” and turned off the TV. A little while later I saw her again and something struck a chord and I was mesmerized. After that, I began seeking out Dr. Shefali and saw her work again on Facebook. She used to do a program called “Conscious Card Tuesdays” which was just posting a thought to her audience and taking questions from people. I engaged Dr. Shefali in discussion and went from there. As a grandparent, some of my parenting issues are the same as the newer parents, but I also have some unique issues like being an in-law to 5 adult children and grandparent to 12 unique individuals.
One of the most important teachings that I have learned about Conscious Parenting is that it’s not just about parenting. It’s about relationship building.
N: Is being a grandparent disqualifying for changing your parenting style? Is it too late?
GS: I have children from ages 27-37. I don’t think it is ever too late. Children, of any age, are a mirror.
When I wanted to share the conscious parenting teachings with my children, I didn’t want to be too pushy or overzealous–especially with my children’s spouses. Dr. Shefali suggested that I buy my kids her books so they could read and process her teachings and speak up if they were interested in learning more.
N: How has it affected your relationships with your children?
GS: I am closer with all of my children as a result of sharing these teachings with them.
N: Has it affected your relationships with your grandchildren and the way you approach being a grandparent?
GS: Yes. I used to be grandma that shells out money and brings gifts. Now I do not that do that. We pick out gift together but our relationship is more about being with each other than giving or receiving stuff.
N: How do you resolve the feelings of guilt or remorse for lost time for not being more conscious earlier?
GS: I had a lot of guilt and sadness for not being with my mother more on an emotional and connected level but with Dr. Shefali’s help I realized that there is no good in beating myself up. I had the same feeling about my time with my own kids. I head to learn to accept the way it had been and appreciate that, albeit later than I wish, I had found growth and am at peace with that. When you know better you do better.
N: What is something you wish more grandparents knew?
GS: Time spent with your children or grandchildren is the gift. Simply being and doing with the child is the gift. Allow yourself to be quiet with them and observe them. Resist the temptation to do, do, do.
N: How do you approach being a Conscious Parent with your children in law?
GS: I heave learned to tread carefully and take cues. At first I was extremely excited about this movement that had allowed me to find peace with my life and my children and I wanted to push Conscious Parenting on them. I now know that you just can’t. They have to be ready and open to it.
N: Do you have any thoughts on what is like to be a Jewish parent and a Conscious Parent?
GS: As a Jewish mom, it is easy to find myself overly enmeshed with my children. I used to find myself shaming and blaming my children and have learned now to just accept them for who they are. I have to stop myself from telling my adult children what to do. I can make suggestions but I have to realize that those are just that, suggestions. Also, part of the Jewish culture has encouraged parents to be a martyr and constantly give, give, give. I have learned to relinquish this part of my upbringing and am focusing on taking care of myself first. I can’t be emotionally available to my children and grandchildren if I haven’t taken time to rejuvenate and recharge my own batteries.
Are you a conscious grandparent? Tell us about your experience below.
At Nurture: Family Education and Guidance, we offer private coaching, facilitated small groups, and larger seminars to teach parents and other educators the art and science of living consciously. Contact us at (585) 420-8838 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
(c) 2016. Nurture: Family Education and Guidance