The Story of Consciously Parenting; Why We’re Here

The Consciously Parenting Project was started by Rebecca Thompson in 2007. Rebecca has always questioned the way we do things with our children, beginning in her own childhood when the advice of professionals created more chaos instead of helping. They meant well, but the information available at the time (1980’s) was behavioral in nature and missed the root causes. (Unfortunately, many professionals are still working from the same old paradigm and causing a lot of harm to families.)

She knew there had to be a better way, so she began questioning and trying to find alternatives that worked for the whole family.

She knew she wanted to help children and decided to get a degree in Elementary Education from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, which she completed in 1993. In 1994, she began working in the public schools in South Florida as a regular classroom teacher. She quickly realized that the public education path wasn’t for her. It became especially clear when she looked forward to parent-teacher conference days and realized that none of her colleagues felt the same way. It was at this point that she decided to end her (short) teaching career. A timely flyer for a Family Therapy program showed up on her desk (possibly from one of those colleagues who could see the classroom wasn’t for her) and after the first night in her first Intro to Mental Health class, she began making an exit plan from the classroom. Best decision ever. She left the classroom in 1997 (a very good year to leave) and she received her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Barry University in 2002 after a brief parenting-related detour.

In 1998, while working on her marriage and family degree, she became a parent for the first time.

Rebecca and newborn ZachParenting wasn’t quite what she expected. (The bout with pre-term labor at 32 weeks that sidetracked her degree was just one small example of learning that she had NO control over this parenting thing…) Though she loved (nearly) every moment with her son, she had no idea it would be as difficult as it was to parent her fussy baby with lots of food allergies or to be responsible for so many parenting decisions every. Single. Day.

With nudging from her lovely, yet persistent midwife, she began to look at parenting from a different cultural lens, exploring things she said she’d never do, including breastfeeding (followed by extended breastfeeding), co-sleeping, baby wearing (babies love strollers, right?), and not leaving her baby until he was older and ready. She became an Attachment Parenting International leader, then a La Leche League leader, supporting families to create more connection from the beginning. But she noticed that not all families could do all the recommended practices; some because they didn’t have the education or support at the appropriate times, others because there were other issues or challenges.

Sometimes life circumstances made it difficult to stay connected. So then what?

In September of 2002, Rebecca gave birth to a baby who had the neural tube defect, anencephaly. Her son, Jacob, died about 2 hours after birth and she soon found herself in the category of families who had some life circumstances that made connecting difficult. At the time, she saw no apparent relationship between her then nearly 4 year-old son’s behavior challenges and the loss of the baby. Struggle ensued (really not good times, people) with behaviors (hers and her son’s) escalating with no clear end in sight.

What she was doing wasn’t working. Not even a little bit. But she had no idea what else to do.

Around 2006, a series of people came into Rebecca’s life who helped her to see that the way to connection was more like Chinese handcuffs- you have to move into the relationship rather than away to reconnect. This went against everything she had learned in her culture about behavior and discipline, which meant she was probably on the right track. And it was. While not perfect, it became radically better in a short period of time.

Rebecca and boys in hammockNot long after that, she started The Consciously Parenting Project to help share the information and support other families on the road to connection or reconnection, and to sift through the mounds of parenting advice to find the applicable information that could actually help real life parenting. She continues to learn and be inspired by the professionals she meets and the families who seek support, as well as from her own two boys and a wide variety of life experiences.

From Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology (understanding the body memory experience of our early life), trauma, attachment, couples work, anthropology, cultural studies, brain research, no one puts the information together in such an accessible and practical way.

Nearly 8 years later, 100’s+ conversations on a wide variety of parenting topics with parenting thought leaders from around the world, 1000’s of hours supporting families through resources, classes, virtual conferences, family friendly retreats, group support, books, and individual consultations, Rebecca has seen families transform in ways they couldn’t even have imagined.

The right information at the right time is powerful.

And Rebecca strives to create those resources that make the difference.

Rebecca has created a collaboration of parents and professionals from around the world who are all striving to make this world a better place for our families and children. Together, they’re creating resources and finding new ways to support families seeking connection. We’re so glad you found us!

Tra Hitt

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