The following is the full transcript of clinical psychologist Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s TEDx Talk titled “Conscious Parenting” at TEDxSF Conference.
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Announcer: Please welcome to the TEDxSF stage, Dr. Dr. Shefali Tsabary.
Dr. Shefali Tsabary – Clinical psychologist
As a clinical psychologist, it is my privilege to help people explore their inner worlds, their psychological terrain. Hour after hour, I hear thoughts, emotions, feelings. This is my data. This data helps me to better understand what is it that emotionally paralyzes us. How is it that we may thrive at this thing called life?
In voices that are awash with need and ablaze with yearning, my clients invite me into their history. They tell me stories of love, loss, hidden fears and deepest desires. And let me tell you, inevitably these stories turn to childhood. They speak of a common theme, a similar rhythm. They speak of a hunger that only a parent can appease, of a thirst that only a parent can quench.
The other day, this tall strapping man in his mid forties, he came to explore his particularly difficult relationship with his father. Yes, we grapple with problems of our childhood long into adulthood. And he said to me, in a voice that turned plaintive, that of an eight-year-old, he said, “Will I ever meet my father’s expectations? Will he ever accept the man I’ve become today? Or will I always be a no-good loser?” He was seeking, searching, yearning for an approval that may never come.
And what about the woman in her thirties, so beautiful, talented, successful, she screamed, “What is wrong with me? Why am I this messed up? You tell me it’s because my father overdosed when I was 4, but when will this pain fade?”
And the woman who picks on her skin constantly, a lifetime habit, you see. She said, “These,” pointing to the rageful scars on her body, “These began the day after my mom said I was the reason daddy left us.”
“Help me!”, each one of them silently shouts at me, “Who am I? Am I my whole, am I worthy, do I matter?” Life’s essential questions. But no matter what I say to them, my words do not seep in. Because they’ve internalized another voice, you see, that of their parents, an early voice. Now try erasing that first blueprint. It runs wild, rampant, chaotic, unpredictable. It comes to be the way we define ourselves. It becomes the air we breathe.
Parents, few hold a greater power or more immense responsibility. And this is why I’m here today, to propose that we occupy the role of parenthood in an entirely different way, with a renewed curiosity, a heightened awareness, a transformed commitment. Because nothing like parenthood that needs to be at the forefront of our global consciousness. It is the call, the linchpin that affects how our children will thrive. Everything: how they take care of themselves, each other, the earth, show compassion, tolerate differences, handle their emotions, create, invent, innovate. This is where global transformation begins. We cannot expect our children to embody an enlightened consciousness if we parents haven’t dared to model this ourselves. It all starts with us and how we parent.