Nonjudgment. Tolerance. Gratitude. Forgiveness. Acceptance. Joy.
As parents, we want to teach these values to our children but are often so busy with daily life that finding time for it remains low on a priority list and often doesn’t happen. We also desire deeper connections, perhaps spiritual connections, with our family and that also can get put on the back burner.
Are you needing a little nudge in the right direction? I was in the same boat as you – until recently.
For awhile I’ve been wanting to do *something* to create deeper bonds within my family, but I felt overwhelmed and didn’t know how to go about it. Out of the blue, I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of the book Soul to Soul Parenting: A Guide to Raising a Spiritually Conscious Family by Annie Burnside. This was the sign I needed. After reading the book I came away not only motivated to start creating deeper connections with my family, but armed with some solid ideas, tools, and skills.
What is “Soul to Soul” Parenting?
Annie encourages us to interact with everyone (including our children) “soul to soul” instead of “role to role”. For example:
- Instead of “parent to child”, it’s “soul to soul”
- Instead of “teacher to student”, it’s “soul to soul”
- Instead of “doctor to patient”, it’s “soul to soul”
By seeing others as souls first the nature of your interaction changes, becoming more loving, compassionate, and joyful. To me, the concept of “soul to soul” reminds me of namaste: ‘the light in me sees the light in you’.
What is a “Spiritually Conscious” Family?
According to the book, a spiritually conscious family is not a perfect one but rather a wide-awake family; one that is fully aware of each individual’s capacity to shape their reality.
OK, but what does that mean?
To me, being ‘conscious’ in daily life means not going about our lives on auto pilot. When situations occur, if you are conscious/present/mindful you will react with some thought and purpose, keeping the concept of “soul to soul” in the forefront and choosing your actions accordingly – instead going with an automatic reaction without thought.
Conscious parenting involves bringing your children to a deeper understanding of large universal concepts such as self-love, true joy, authenticity, free will, and compassion.
No matter your family’s current religious affiliation, Soul to Soul Parenting hopes to model what it means to live mindfully and consciously in a hectic world. Annie provides many ways to incorporate spirituality into family life, so that we can start to see beyond appearances and words and truly acknowledge another’s validity. What a great way to see our children – and how great to start teaching them at a young age to see others this way as well.
What’s Inside the Book?
Soul to Soul Parenting encourages us, as parents, to take ownership and become the spiritual leaders of our family. Using principles learned from her own journey of self discovery, her family, and her professional experience providing spiritual insight and support, Annie provides the following techniques in her book:
- Soul to Soul Parenting Vehicles: Used to integrate spirituality into daily family life, there are 22 Parenting Vehicles listed for you to reshape and use how you choose in order to invite a new awareness into your family’s life. A few of the vehicles are: family discussions, visual cues, family rituals, intuitive-gratitude journal, meditation, exploring music, art, books, showing your spirit, and utilizing nature.
- Soul to Soul Parenting Spiritual Themes: There are 15 Spiritual Themes which are meant to broaden perspectives so that life can be viewed from multiple angles, allowing the interconnectedness of all things to be felt and observed. A few of the themes are: connectedness and boundaries, presence and openness, authenticity and joy, forgiveness, self-love, truth and perception, gratitude and appreciation, and trust and faith.
After each Spiritual Theme there are some tools for integrating it into your family, such as:
- parent contemplation questions
- specific activities
- a list of related books for all ages (picture books, chapter books, and adult books)
- a list of related movies
- a list of related songs
To get a greater sense of the book, watch this short two minute trailer featuring author Annie Burnside discussing what the book is about:
If you can’t view the video, click here.
I also encourage you to visit her website www.annieburnside.com where you will find some great information such as another description of the book, family discussion topics, and many of her published articles.
This book came into my life at the right time. Its messages were just what I wanted to hear and were written in my kind of language. While initially expecting it to be strictly geared towards how to impart this wisdom to children, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that a lot of the book was teaching me these concepts. After all, I will need to know about these ideas if I want to share them with my family. She explains each concept in depth, and then shares ways to teach it to your children.
I really loved the reminders to live with authenticity and joy. I think that’s what I need most in my life right now – to crank up the JOY! And not that I needed it, but I feel Annie gave me permission to do just that. What a great new way to see my life!
As a Unitarian Universalist, I was thrilled with how much this book spoke my language of the interconnectedness of all things and acceptance of everyone’s own spiritual journey. And I know that other Unitarian Universalist parents out there would feel the same way.
What Age to Start?
After reading the book and getting fired up to start this new spiritual journey, I became confused about how to start with my own family. My son is only 4 years old and I didn’t really know how to even begin to talk about some of the themes mentioned in the book. I asked Annie for some advice and she was kind enough to share even more pearls of wisdom – and I want to share some of that with you as well.
Any age is fine to start. With young children, Annie suggests using picture books and kid’s songs a lot by sharing together during family discussion and choosing one theme. Keep in mind that at this age discussions might be only three minutes long. Also, visual cues can be started very early; for example a cute note that says “I Love Myself” on a closet door.
Annie reminded me that in the beginning a big part of this journey is simply making time together for this purpose a priority. Eventually you just begin infusing a little bit here and there as the whole family becomes comfortable with the language. The biggest step is the parents making a conscious choice to engage in personal growth and spiritual development and then it evolves rather naturally for the whole family in tandem.
Soul to Soul Parenting is not designed for one specific religious group. While the spiritual themes are non-denominational, some of them might not resonate with certain religious groups. With all the themes, Annie encourages you to explore the ones that fit your family’s evolving spirituality. I think the themes and the overall message of the book can be applied in any family of any faith tradition, adapting them to your specific beliefs if necessary.
Who Would Most Benefit From Soul to Soul Parenting?
- Parents wanting to create deeper family bonds
- Parents who want ideas for teaching these themes to their children
- Parents with a world view who want guidance as they create spiritual connections with their family
Where to Buy the Book?
Annie Burnside, M.Ed., is a soul nurturer, author, public speaker, and teacher specializing in conscious relationships and spiritual development. She also writes a family consciousness column for Evolving Your Spirit Magazine and blogs for the Chicago Tribune Media Company under Soul to Soul Perspective: A Little Bit of Soul Goes a Long Way. Annie also hosts a radio show for the “I’m Thankful Network.” She received her Masters degree in Education from DePaul University and lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband and three children. www.annieburnside.com
[Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author. With that being said, the comments and opinions above are purely my own.]
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Wendy – ParentingTips365.com
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