Conscious Parenting: Optimizing Your Behavoir During Difficult Times

When I began the process of disciplining my first two children, I encountered a dilemma.

Normally patient and kind, I would suddenly become irrational, triggered by incidental things. I couldn’t explain or understand the behavior but it bothered me. One minute I was a calm and happy mother, the next, I was my mother, yelling.

I was disturbed by this Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde personality swap so I asked my pediatrician for help, and she replied, in her lovely Italian accent:

“Well, think about where you learned about parenting. From your own parents, correct? And that was many years ago and you have never used those skills. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it, that now all these years later you are parenting in exactly the same way.”

I had to admit it made sense.

“I want you to examine all of those things you learned and think of them as tools in a toolbox. Tonight, when your kids are asleep I want you to place your hand on their hearts and think about what kind of parent you want to be and the kind of person you want your child to grow up to be. Then, decide which tools will serve your purpose and let the other ones fall away.”


Those words completely changed my parenting and opened my eyes to a more conscious life. Her suggestion created the opening to do things differently. It was a revealing and uncomfortable process, but by simply observing that nanosecond prior to an irrational outburst, I discovered a vast space of possibility and choice.

No one ever directly taught me how to grieve or handle death. I learned about these things watching other people go through them, but it turned out what I knew amounted to nothing terribly helpful. When I encountered the traumatic circumstances of 2010, I decided to map out the journey through this foreign territory using a similar practice to the one my pediatrician shared.

I began with the idea that I wanted my children to come out the other side of this tragedy with perspective and compassion. The only way I envisioned this happening was through open, honest communication, which meant immersing myself in the awkwardness of death and suicide, and a host of other topics most of us would willingly avoid.

This was no easy feat, and required a lot of courage from all of us, but an interesting thing happened. The more space I created for our experience to be discussed and feelings to be expressed, the more it became a natural part of our conversation, which, in turn, has created a beautiful ecosystem for our family. Instead of becoming entities with a life of their own lurking in the shadows, all of these elements are a part of the rich tapestry of our new life.

If you struggle with murky behaviors or difficult conversations, consider what my wise pediatrician counseled. Begin with the wholehearted belief that things can be different and be gentle with yourself. Dismantling the complex behaviors we have created to navigate our lives is difficult work that requires a brave heart.

For further ideas, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself offers an in-depth and fascinating look at changing the way you think and behave.

I’d love to hear what you have discovered on your journey.


Who is Dianna Bonny?

Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.

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