LET YOUR FACE SPEAK WHAT’S IN YOUR HEART

On an episode of Oprah 10+ years ago, Toni Morrison gave the following advice on parenting…

“When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. . . . You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What’s wrong now?

Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?”

I read these incredibly moving words last night in an article that a dear friend sent to me, from the always-excellent Huffington Post. It is called “The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto,” by Brené Brown. In much the same spirit as my previous blog posts about Wabi-Sabi and Buddhism in parenting, Brown talks about the importance of what’s actually important as a parent— which is showing your children unconditional love and the truth about what “is” in all circumstances, as opposed to what “should be” or “should look like.” In other words, teaching them to embrace life and all that it is— the up’s, down’s… the unimaginably awesome things but also the true imperfections that exist, both for yourself and for your children.

Brown wrote a beautiful manifesto on parenting for herself and her own family. As for me, I plan to print it out and put it on a wall in our home somewhere.

THE WHOLEHEARTED PARENTING MANIFESTO

Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions–the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.

We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.

You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.

I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.

I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.

When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.

Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.

We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.

As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.

I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.

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