We chat with Sandi Schwartz from Leading Edge Parenting in San Diego, California. Sandi and her daughter, Melissa, are internationally acclaimed parenting coaches who teach parents how to guide their children from a place of spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Would you say that children choose their parents?
Absolutely, and they choose their parents from another consciousness that we are, for the most part, unfamiliar with. It is always, however, a perfect match for the child and parent’s spiritual journey alike, even if from our physical earth bodies, this may sometimes be hard to believe. For the spiritual journey of the child, it is a perfect match and provides the perfect setup for the soul work that that child needs to accomplish.
Do you think parenting is a spiritual journey?
Yes, it is a spiritual journey combined with the physical, human journey. I always teach parents that it is a combination of both because, while it is a spiritual journey, we are living it through our physical bodies. What really helps parents who are open to this idea, is the understanding of how both the physical and spiritual part of the parenting journey come together.
One of the hardest things for parents to accept is that they are powerless when it comes to their child’s soul journey. They have to let go. Of course, parents do have a lot of influence over the way that their child sees life and him/herself in this life, and the choices the child makes within. In addition to this, if parents do their own soul work, reflecting off that of their child’s, then their experience together becomes absolutely incredible.
There is a fine line and very delicate balance that parents need to find, and understand, to be able to guide their children with spiritual wisdom rather than from the darkness of fear, therefore allowing their children to follow their own spiritual journeys, uninterrupted and unhindered.
I cover this in my book Authentic Parenting Power. (There is also a free book on our website entitled “Emotionally Healthy Discipline’).
What are your views on Nature versus Nurture?
We all arrive physically hard-wired for ‘life on earth’, in terms of brain function and other neurological components which prepare us for our physical journey. Our hard wiring determines how we naturally process and react to life. Some of us are ‘easy-going’ and manage to cope with situations and stimuli that are thrown at us, while others have a harder time adapting and coping. This does not mean that the child is ‘manipulative’ or ‘naughty’, it simply means that he/she is finding it harder to navigate the new terrain than its peers. This is our temperament, something we have no control over. It is who we are throughout our physical lives. We can learn how to modulate our reactions and soothe our emotions within this temperament.
Where the Nurture comes in, is how the parent responds to these various behavioural differences. How the parent nurtures the temperament of the child shapes and influences the child’s developing personality.
When we refer to the spiritual ‘form ‘of nature and nurture, nature is what humans bring through their soul contracts, what we came to work on, and the karma we are bringing from past lives. That is the spiritual nature of our beings. The nurture is our awakening to the soul work we choose or choose not to do throughout our lifetime. We nurture our soul work as we embrace our connection to higher realms of wisdom. It is a lifetime process.
What is amazing is when the two come together.
Please tell us a little about your professional journey?
I always knew that I would work with children or animals. I have always had a huge spiritual connection with both. I started out teaching in Manhattan, and went on to complete many higher degrees, and became a very successful educator. My spiritual journey began with the challenge of not being able to conceive a child. I finally truly let go of circumstances having to evolve my way, moving into total acceptance, and experiencing the miracle of conception.
My second child, Melissa, was highly sensitive and allowed me to understand children even more. She wasn’t bad, she just didn’t do things like other kids. She walked to her own beat.
I could see the powerlessness and perplexities faced by the parents and teachers of these kind of children and that was the beginning of the next phase of my professionalism. I became the Director of Programs where I met children from other walks of life and cultures.
I then started training teachers to understand the children who were not doing what was asked of them. I soon realized that parents needed similar ‘training’ and set up lunchtime parent workshops in Wall Street to be able to facilitate this.
When I moved to California in 2004, I worked at a college and I was in charge of a Child Development Program. I told them I wanted to work with parents, and so for the next seven years, I just taught parents and teachers . It was during this time that I was doing a lot of my own spiritual work.
Do you work more closely with the child or parent, generally speaking?
I work more closely with the parents. Melissa works closely with highly sensitive children.
Are children our biggest teachers?
Yes, if we are willing to be open, to do the work, to learn from the way children challenge us, the opportunity to do our spiritual work is enormous, plus we become the parents we want to be. It doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, because we are not. It’s about doing the work on the journey, and being open to doing our own spiritual work first and foremost.
What are the typical outward signs that an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) might demonstrate?
A highly sensitive infant, child or teenager etc..feels things so much more intensely than others. They take in life and notice things that most others do not. It can be as simple as a fan in a room which is spinning and the sound of the spinning is driving them crazy. Their senses are attacked quite literally.
How common is this in the world we live in today?
I believe 20% of the population is highly sensitive, to varying degrees.
Are some people particularly gifted with intuitive parenting skills?
Some people seem to just have an intuitive understanding of what is going on with the child and they know how to tune into what the outer behavior is saying about what is really going on inside the child. This is something I teach, how to read the outer behavior of a child to understand what is really causing it. Some parents are lucky enough to do this intuitively.
How do you see the parent/child dynamic evolving over the next 50 years?
My sense is that there will always be this spiritual soul piece, and as people become more open to embracing the possibility that the relationship between child and parent is a lot more than the old-fashioned paradigm, then growth is inevitable.
Young parents are now willing to read books on the topic, and with the explosion of the internet and the openness of the world in general, there will be a constant ‘searching’ for more understanding despite the (positive) challenges that parenting can and will always face.