Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuning In

I have always considered myself to be an intuitive person, energetically getting and sensing things about people, places, and even pets on a deeper, gut level. But becoming a parent reinforced this in a powerful way and brought about a whole new sense of knowing and understanding that defies rational awareness. Being in tune with my kids has taken on a whole new meaning and value for me as a mother.

I recently picked up an intriguing book, Intuitive Parenting by Debra Snyder. As the parent of a disabled child, Snyder found that tuning into her intuitive self on a profound and spiritual level allowed her to communicate with and experience a connection with her child that may not have otherwise happened. As a parent of a child with special needs, I find intuitive parenting to be even more important as a tool for negotiating this journey. A recent NY Times Magazine article explored the journey of parental intuition with novelist Masha Hamilton. Hamilton writes "as a parent, I’ve experienced another level of perception that seems to kick in with no clear outside cues." As Hamilton describes, there are times we simply get a feeling of danger or warning that something is not right with one of our children. And this feeling of strong mother's intuition has been confirmed through the stories of many other parents.

The challenge for me is not so much tuning in as it is standing my ground on what I know. From the time I first became a parent, I have always felt what was "right" for my particular children. Choices I have made along the way about their healthcare, their need for closeness or their breastfeeding habits were all based upon what I intuited from them. Unfortunately, this always seemed to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. My children would be spoiled or too dependent, the world told me (as did some of our friends and family members). They needed to be more independent, calmer, less energetic. It didn't matter who they were as people, rather it mattered to the outside world whether or not they fit into a preconceived notion of child behavior and rearing. And trusting in your inner wisdom rather than the external consensus is not always the easiest row to hoe.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from parenting is to follow this intuitive, connected path with my children no matter what the world outside seems to say. Cultivating my own inner voice has guided me to choose specific remedies or treatments, to know when a child is not well or stressed, and even to make specific professional and personal choices. It may not fit into a clinical trial or be dictated by rational processes of logic and evaluation, but inner knowingness, if you will, can be powerful when heeded and not second-guessed. Opening up to this inner knowledge may be a journey but it brings with it great insight and confidence. As Albert Einstein once said, "The only really valuable thing is intuition."

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