Conscious Parenting reads like an inspiring love poem to children expressing a belief in their inherent goodness and in the many ways conscious parenting can nurture their emotional and spiritual development. To Lee Lozowick, parenting begins with conscious conception and moves on to prenatal and perinatal child rearing. During birth, he calls for parents to establish emotional contact by talking to the child, orienting the child, explaining what is happening and what is going to happen, creating an environment of welcoming, gentleness, and information.
As a psychologist, I couldn't agree more with the philosophy of child rearing in this book: treating children with honor, respect, dignity and camaraderie. And, I agree that if a parent nurtures developmental processes without trying to control them, developmental outcomes will be positive because the children will naturally be able to express themselves and will remain connected and related.
Mr. Lozowick is founder of the Holm Community in Prescott, Arizona and a colorful teacher and writer. In some circles he says they call him "a fundamentalist-zealot child advocate." He fully accepts the idea that parents are chosen by children to provide a doorway for them to grow and fulfill themselves. I like his emphasis on loving children as they are, and for who they are, free of parental demands and expectations. Children, he says, need to be empathized with, and he regrets how often children have to adapt to an adult pace and environment instead of having their own needs understood and met. And for him this means starting at conception.
Conscious Parenting is enjoyable, thought-provoking and sure to stimulate discussion about parenting education, beliefs and values. When it comes to the psychological interventions he advocates to break the chain of unconscious parenting, I have reservations. Using our will to make conscious decisions different from those our parents made, or taking responsibility for our own unkind or abusive interactions may not always be enough to change injurious parenting patterns. Because abused or inadequately nurtured children feel the injury as their own inadequacy, it is also true that these very same children as parents can feel inadequate and injured when overwhelmed by the needs of their own babies and children. And so it goes. Conscious parenting means parents need to know their own injuries and recognize when they are triggered, and when they start acting from injury. In my view, continuously working with one's own psychology is a very important part of parenting.
The strength of this book is its understanding of the hearts and needs of children and the conscious nurturing they require. He describes parenting as a spiritual practice which, if truly engaged, is more consuming than that of a Zen monk sitting zazen. Paraphrasing his last paragraph, parenthood lasts not three days or a month but almost twenty years, day and night, without interruption. And once begun, it cannot be dismissed or forgotten. Like the labor of birth or of spiritual development, conscious parenting leads not out of life, but in and through its daily challenges.