xemenia and her mom 218..I realize the Golden Globe telecast isn't super-high on the priority list for some parents, so I wanted to loop you in on this, in case you missed it: in accepting the award for Best Direction of his extraordinary film Boyhood, Richard Linklater dedicated it to "parents that are evolving everywhere."

Or as I like to call us, "parents in progress." We are all ages, and our children range from pre-birth to adult. We are the curious ones, the researchers. We are the parents who have our ears tuned for new information that will enrich our family's life. We are the status-quo buckers. We are the ones who rarely (if ever) say things like, "Well, my parents spanked me and I turned out okay."

We are also the ones who can beat ourselves up for falling short of... well... perfection. Some of us occasionally envy the blissfully ignorant. And yet there's no way of joining that party, because awareness is a powerful engine that insists upon progress. Let's adopt a mantra, shall we? "Progress, not perfection."

MotheringAwardFIAs Linklater wisely observed, "We're all flawed in this world. No one's perfect."

Ah, but here's the award-winning part: Do you know what very powerful and very beautiful process can be ignited when curious awareness meets flawed humanity? Striving.

The Powerful Beauty of Striving

I want to share a few thoughts with you on the power and beauty of striving -- including something I learned that was huge for me personally. It solved a mystery that had lived for many years at the center of my mothering heart.

But first, I want to clarify what I mean by striving. Here's a 2-minute chat with Kathy White of Joyful Parents UK where we suss this out. Hint: striving is NOT meant to be stressful!

Over the past dozen years, science has revealed that mothers and babies link up, brain-to-brain -- kind of like a sci-fi "mind-meld." This is a fundamental aspect of learning for our children, as they essentially "download" our social-emotional programming. (Crazy, right?!) When I first learned that researchers can "read" a mother's depression in her baby's EEG (brainwave) patterns, it was like a kick in the stomach. As the daughter of a bipolar mother, I had inherited a genetic predisposition toward depression.

And when I had my first child, motherhood brought me to my knees: a lot of my own unaddressed early childhood stuff came roiling up, and even the simplest daily things were a struggle. I suffered from what I've come to call CCPD -- Chronic Covert Postpartum Depression. I had rage leaking out all over. It was really hard for me to be present. Yes, I got stuff done and took pretty good care of my children, but continually felt like things would all fall apart any moment.

So years after all that, I learn about attachment neurobiology and how infants and children take their cues from their parents' emotional functioning?? Yikes.

Hang On, Here's The Cool Part

If this brain-to-brain thing were merely a copy-and-paste situation, my son and my daughter wouldn't have had much hope. But here's the thing: I never stopped striving -- for insight, for healing, for wholeness. And that changed everything. I believe it is why Ian and Eve have both flourished even though I struggled when they were little.

UCLA psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz wrote an entire book about it, called Mind and Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force. He developed a successful treatment protocol for severe OCD using only mindfulness practice; patients not only changed their behavior but even their brain structure simply through how they directed their thoughts.

Dr. Schwartz says that striving "carries a level of mental force that changes the brain" -- which means our striving can change the download our children are getting!! What we hand down to our children as we parent is not simply a linear, one-for-one duplicate of ourselves. This is where stunning possibilities of parenting for peace lie: through refining our own consciousness we throw the door wide open on our children's potential.

Consciousness is a powerful force. And by "consciousness" I mean the ways in which you focus your thoughts, attitudes, expectations. How do you think about something your child has done or said? How do you think about yourself as a parent? How you think about a challenge, or a blessing, or a loss? To a great extent, that shapes how successful you will be in responding to those situations.

And because you are human, you will continue to not be "successful" many times. And so you can begin again. Give yourself the gift of beginning again, as many times as it takes. There is beauty and power in those beginnings!


I'd love to hear about where you think you might need to begin often. Where are the bumpy spots in your daily or weekly parenting life where you (and your child!) will benefit from you beginning again... and again...? And would you be willing to forgive yourself the need to continue beginning again? Ah... welcome to the family of evolving parents everywhere!