Parenting Children for Unconditional Self-Love

My daughter, Sage, is a go-getter...she has been raised with an understanding of herself as a creator of her own experience. She knows few barriers and knows that most of the obstacles we face are our own imagination and the limits that we put upon ourselves. She is empathetic and caring and sees the world as a place to love and heal others through her art, her mind, and her love.

She has watched me face illness head on, countless set-backs, surgeries, medication side effects, and flares/"bad days" yet knows I always try to come up smiling and charge on, ready to embrace the next day happy and full of joy, even when I am not full of energy. She also watched me go from writing a poem about doing yoga together to writing a book with an internationally best-selling spirituality author and my spiritual mentor, Neale Donald Walsch, who has become my dear friend. The process from poem to parenting book took about five years to completion, but in actuality, the contact was much less, fewer than two years. So she knows, from direct observation, about tenacity and manifesting ...and most important ... putting in the required work. I don't necessarily mean hours, I mean integrity: honing your craft, practice, trying-trying-trying, being open to criticism, listening to the experts, following instructions, not letting your ego get in the way, humbling yourself when things don't go well, and always acting with the attitude of graciousness and gratitude that every person you encounter who is willing to help you has some piece of advice that will benefit you and the greater good.

I've written before about her passion and dreams for ice skating. Scott and I have committed that we will support her in her dreams, no matter how far they take her. We feel as her parents, this is our role, to help and guide this autonomous being on the journey she chose in coming to earth. As she gets older, and more advanced, her skating gets more serious, the competitions more intense, and any resulting disappointment gets more difficult to swallow. As an adolescent, pre-teen girl, these disappointments have started to erode the ideas she had about herself as one who could accomplish anything, who is a perfect manifestation of the divine, and whose positive attitude and hard work are the formula for a full and happy/complete life in which her dreams can come true.

Coming from a Conversations with God for Parents perspective has enabled Scott and me to always approach her with pure love and acceptance for where she is, yet always trying to guide her back to a true understanding of herself. Recently, on a trip to a competition, we decided to help her remember Who She Really Is, outside of skating. (Thankfully, Rickey her big cousin who is more like her brother and is her best friend, was able to point out to me that she had started to identify herself wholly in terms of skating, instead of the dynamic and wonderful well-rounded being of light she is.) 

I drew a bright, sparkling, happy picture of her in the middle of a page of her journal. Then for the next three hours, her daddy and I helped her fill the page around it with beautiful affirmations of all of the (non-skating) attributes that she, and we, admire about her. At first she was mad that we infringed on her expected car "Netflix time." But as the car ride went on, and the three of us dove into our examination of all the things that make Sage wonderful, the light came back into her eyes. She seemed to start to want more and reach for her own positive qualities. 

After filling the page with her positive attributes, I asked her to pick five of them. I then had her write a couple of sentences about those five attributes, and what her having them meant to her, as well as what they meant to our family, and the world. Because her focus is skating, I then had her repeat the process about skating, she drew a picture of a skate on the next page and wrote her favorite things about skating, and how they fit into the wholeness of Sage. The entire point of the exercise was to help her see herself as a whole being, of which her skating self is a small (important, by her choice, but small) part. Now, whenever she starts to get worried about her performance, I point to one of the non-skating attributes to remind her of how spectacular she is, and that we can always overcome any obstacle when we place it into perspective.

This is an easy exercise that you can do with a journal and crayons, markers, or colored pencils and your child will feel cherished, filled up, and reminded of Who They Really Are. Remembering and embracing Who You Really Are is crucial, it is the main ingredient in having Unconditional Self-Love.

Emily A. Filmore is an author, speaker, and is one of the founding board members of Myositis Support and Understanding Association. She wrote "The Marvelous Transformation: Living Well with Autoimmune Disease" about her experiences with dermatomyositis and other chronic illness (Central Recovery Press 2015), the "With My Child" series of children's books about family bonding (Withmychildseries.com), is the co-author of "Conversations with God for Parents" with Neale Donald Walsch and Laurie Lankins Farley. (Rainbow Ridge, 2015), and co-author of “Parenting through Divinity” with Laurie Lankins Farley (due for release in 2018 through the Waterside imprint).