Happy Parents Happy Kids: Renée Peterson Trudeau Explores Soulful Parenting
Jul 31, 2013 01:05PM
By Meredith Montgomery
The oldest of seven Montessori-inspired children and mother of one, Renée Peterson Trudeau serves as a life balance coach, speaker and president of Career Strategists, a coaching and consulting firm. Thousands of women in 10 countries participate in Personal Renewal Groups based on her first book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. Now, in a new book, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, Trudeau helps empower families to handle the challenges of everyday life with harmony and ease.
How can individuals achieve more peace?
We realize peace by nurturing our hearts and souls with self-care, by slowing down and being gentle with ourselves. It requires us to attune and respond to our own needs and desires in the present moment. Am I responding with compassion when I make mistakes? Am I saying no when I need to say no? Did I ask for and receive help when I needed it? This is self-care in day-to-day life. When we feel nurtured in ways aligned with our deeper needs, we’re able to more fully express our potential and relax into being who we truly are.
How does such caring show up in family dynamics?
When I’m feeling grumpy or irritable, I know that my inner cup is empty and I’m out of sync with my needs. When we practice self-care, we are more present with our partner and children. We feel more generous, loving and playful, and it’s easier to weather crises and uncertainties. I believe that modeling self-love is one of the best ways to influence children’s self-esteem.
Why is it important for families to define what they value most?
It’s empowering for a family to anchor together around one key core value. Once you identify it, you all can make more conscious decisions. The value that my own family has chosen is compassion for one’s self and others. Creativity, spirituality, service or learning are others.
“Mom, tell them to surprise their kids—listen to them, have fun with them and just spend time with them.”
~ Jonah Trudeau, age 9
As kids grow into adolescence, it becomes more challenging to maintain balance; there are so many demands on a family’s time and attention. Mentally, we’re often overwhelmed by an expanding scope of activities and decisions. At any age, a lot of us are just reacting to whatever comes at us. But when we identify the values most important to us, it’s easier to know when to say yes and no to things, so that our actions become aligned with our priorities.
What is behind the rising appeal of living more simply?
Simplicity is alluring at a most basic level of our being; we crave it. We want to invest less energy in making decisions and have more space for life to organically unfold. We want to hit the pause button because we are overscheduled, overworked and overloaded with too much information. It can feel so good to be productive, and American culture rewards output. But we need to be mindful of balancing the harder task of ‘being’ with the seduction of doing, for we are at our most powerful when both of these energies are equal.
Where do we start?
If we are not currently living in alignment with what matters most to us, we can stop what we’re doing and course-correct. We have to define what simplicity looks like for us and can start by just slowing down. Do less to experience more. Unplug from technology. Try spending unscheduled, media-free time together. My family feels most nourished after weekends that we hardly did anything and just enjoyed connecting through simple pleasures.
What role does spirituality play in fostering a healthy family life?
I hear a lot of parents say that they used to think that spirituality was separate from parenting. Then they woke up to the idea that being a parent is a spiritual practice, maybe the most profound one they will ever have. Connecting to the sacred in everyday life yields nurturing gifts we can enjoy with our children, not separate from them.
What is the most valuable advice that you offer to parents?
Pause to breathe in compassion and realize that our outer state is a reflection of our inner state. It helps us release whatever we’re dealing with and reconnect with ourselves and loved ones.
For more information, visit ReneeTrudeau.com.
Meredith Montgomery is a regular contributor to Natural Awakenings.
Small Daily Practices Make a Huge Difference
by Renée Peterson Trudeau
A regular spiritual practice grounds us and helps us navigate the challenges of just being human. It helps us stay awake, begin to let go, trust the rhythm and flow of life and relax into the beauty of our true nature.
Create Ritual – Meaningful rituals can be carefully planned events or casual, but regular remembrances, such as voicing gratitude before a family meal or greeting one another with a hug. Marking transitions and milestones in the lives of family members likewise connects everyone to the sacredness of daily living. We remember that life is more than to-do lists.
Cultivate Stillness – Quiet private contemplation through stillness, prayer, meditation or reflection is a daily way to connect with our inner wisdom and/ or embrace a higher power, and can make the whole day better.
Practice Service to Others – The more we reach out and are present to one another, the stronger we become and the easier it is to understand our interconnection—that we’re all one.
Live in the Present – Many great spiritual teachers believe the answer to everything is to just “be here now,” and that our suffering and emotional distress would end if we simply stopped resisting the present. When we temporarily suspend our desire to change things, we can embrace that where we are is exactly where we’re supposed to be.
Choose Happiness – Can we only be happy if things are going our way? Experts suggest that we’re born with the innate capacity to experience inner well-being and joy; it’s our birthright to feel good. We must remember to choose happiness in each present moment.