Low Demand Parenting is a Journey of Radical Acceptance

low demand parenting foundations May 15, 2023

Before our children are even born, many of us are creating images of our life together.

Fantasies of our children, and who they will be. We create a registry list full of adorable clothes and play toys, consumed by our own imagination of how we will be as parents: capable, confident, calm and in control. We will have the children of our dreams, and all will be well.

Many parents say "all I want is a healthy child," and talk about counting fingers and toes, already imbuing parenting with ableism, as though our child or our experience will be lesser if we have a disabled child. We take the one piece of information we know, the sex, and confuse it with gender, creating an imagination of a gender-prescribed child, with onesies that say "Daddy's little slugger" and "Pretty princess."

Or we fixate on our gender-neutral, organic clothing and our heartbeat monitors and our gentle birthing classes, as though we can protect this child from all pain by making all the right choices.

 

The hardest thing to imagine is that we are not in control of our destiny.

That this child will change everything, and then change everything again.

That our role is as recipient of a miracle.

 

For some families, the child matches the imagination, and there is no unlearning, no painful reckoning. For some families, the standard parenting wisdom applies beautifully, and the assumption that they are good parents, in control of their destiny, remains unchallenged.

For me, parenting has been a spiritual boot camp in the cosmic principle of radical acceptance.

This is good.

This is right.

I am enough for this.

Just as I am, I am enough for you.

 

Just as you are, you are good.

Just as you are, you are right.

It is not my job to change you.

 

I practice radical acceptance in the present moment, as I feel wildly inadequate to face the pressing challenge. As everything I've ever heard declares that I am doing this wrong, that if I were a good parent, my child would not be biting me, spiting on me, screaming in my face, or silently staring at a screen, alone in the basement. Everything I've ever heard tells me that this is bad. I am bad.

And in this moment, I practice radical acceptance.

This is good.

This is right.

I am enough for this.

Just as I am, I am enough for you.

Just as you are, you are good.

Just as you are, you are right.

It is not my job to change you.

I release the expectations that bind us to shame and accept the emotions, sensations and needs of the present moment.

 

As we stand in our real life, embracing the present moment with all that it holds, we practice radical acceptance. We are brave voyagers, sailing a boat of compassion through stormy seas, aligned with our child in all that they face. Just as we are, we are good. Just as we are, we are right. It is not our job to change them. It is our job to embrace them, just as they are.

Quiz: "Why is everything so hard?"

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