Several years ago, my parents had requested we have "proper" photos taken of our family. To appease them, we headed to the nearest mall to get some  "family shots". 

My kids were all hyped up on sugar that afternoon (thanks to my Mom's delicious lemon cupcakes, the M&M's their Grandfather gave them on the way out of the front door or the soda AND Skittles their Dad pumped them up with during the shoot to "bribe" them with- geez Louise, people!). 

So anyhow, during this photography session, the photographer was finding it impossible to get the kids to cooperate. I looked over and he was just dripping with sweat, trying as hard as he could to get my kids to calm down. It was a total scene and we were all tired from jet lag, to top things off.

My then 2 year old nearly knocked down the man's entire "make shift" changing stall (I don't know who was more horrified, me or him). 

Next, my older son refused to give a normal smile or face. Just as the man would prepare to take a shot, my older son would suddenly make this really weird face (check out the photo for just a little taste). 

I was SO mad. So there I was. Threatening. Guilting. Scolding. Bribing. Begging. I even cried on the way home. I am laughing as I write this now (my kids truly are well behaved for the most part), but in looking back, I know I hit the wall. I also know my kids were tired, sleeping in a bed other than their own (we were visiting family) and were not on their usual schedule. We were all out of whack that day. 

As parents, we’re all just figuring it out, doing our best, and typically modeling the same parenting style we experienced as children. More likely than not, your experience, like mine, was of the old-school, hierarchical variety in which power-based authority and the fear of punishment was used to mold behavior. This seems to have been the predominant approach for generations. 

For my own development as a parent, I’m exploring new approaches that are in alignment with my core values.

Conscious parenting is one approach that synchronizes beautifully with yogic concepts. Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s book The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children introduces this model based on mindfulness and empathy, rather than on dominance and threat. Conscious parenting sees that we are – or can be – growing along with our children. In fact, our children are key players in our spiritual journeys, reflecting the subconscious issues we need to address in order to transform into more aware, authentic individuals. 

I feel that greater understanding for both our children and ourselves, transforms us and empowers our children. I also know that setting clear boundaries and teaching my kids about cause and effect and consequences is a must.  The thing I am watching most, is noticing when I am on the verge of "reacting". It's interesting to be aware in that moment of annoyance or frustration and to take a step back and soften, instead of getting more upset. I am still practicing. 

In the end, the photographer merged two pictures together and "photo shopped" normal looking eyes onto my older sons photos. What. And I am not even going to post the photos we ended up with. But what a funny day to look back on. I will repeat this story to my Grandchildren one day. It is a classic.