Eckhart Tolle on Conscious Parenting


Eckhart Tolle

I like Eckhart Tolle‘s take on how to make your child feel truly loved and cherished. Here is an excerpt from his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose that I wish every parent would read and take to heart.

Many children harbor hidden anger and resentment towards their parents and often the cause is inauthenticity in the relationship. The child has a deep longing for the parent to be there as a human being, not as a role, no matter how conscientiously that role is being played. You may be doing all the right things and the best you can for your child, but even doing the best you can is not enough. In fact, doing is never enough if you neglect Being.

The ego knows nothing about Being but believes you will eventually be saved by doing. If you are in the grip of the ego, you believe that by doing more and more, you will eventually accumulate enough “doings” to make yourself feel complete at some point in the future. You won’t. You will only lose yourself in doing. The entire civilization is losing itself in doing that is not rooted in Being and thus becomes futile.

How do you bring Being into a busy family, into the relationship with your child? The key is to give your child attention. There are two kinds of attention. One we may call form-based attention. The other is formless attention. Form-based attention is always connected in some way with doing or evaluating, “Have you done your homework? Eat your dinner. Tidy up your room. Brush your teeth. Do this. Stop doing that. Hurry up, get ready.”

What’s the next thing we have to do? This question pretty much summarizes what family life is like in many homes. Form-based attention is of course necessary and has its place, but if that’s all there is in the relationship with your child, then the most vital dimension is missing and Being becomes directly obscured by doing, by the “cares of the world,” as Jesus puts it. Formless attention is inseparable with the dimension of Being. How does it work?

As you look at, listen to, touch, or help your child with this or that, you are alert, still, completely present, not wanting anything other than that moment as it is. In this way, you make room for Being. In that moment, if you are present, you are not a mother or father. You are the alertness, the stillness, the Presence that is listening, looking, touching, even speaking. You are the Being behind the doing.

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10 Responses to “Eckhart Tolle on Conscious Parenting”

  1. Catherine Nagle Says:

    Dear Phil,

    Thank you so much! For some reason or other, I have missed this most important message in Conscious Parenting from Eckhart Tolle. But I have not missed out on the blessing that I personally experienced living in Being from my parents and a family of seventeen children.

    This message is the most important for any parent wanting to guide and support our children to the very best life that we can give them.

    My book: “Home is Where Your Story Begins” clearly explains the words and actions as Eckhart Tolle speaks here; that my parents somehow mysteriously knew these things. For those who are interested, here is the link to my book:

    Thank you again, Phil, for bringing the most important matters to our hearts and minds of keeping the Spirit in the front line of our lives! And making the difference in the world for a most promising future for our children.

    Catherine Nagle

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Thank you, Catherine. Yes, it all begins with the children. We must do everything we can to ensure that our children grow into happy, healthy adults.

  3. Jym Says:

    Hi Phil, Thanks for sharing this wonderful passage from Eckhart.

    It’s very easily misunderstood though.

    “In that moment, if you are present, you are not a mother or father. You are the alertness, the stillness, the Presence that is listening, looking, touching, even speaking. You are the Being behind the doing.”

    Adding the dimensions of presence and being does not negate the psychological human layers. It simply means that you exist at function from a deeper level, a more existentially ‘Real’ dimension.

    The layers of egoic identity – “I am a father, a mother …” still holds a relative truth. It’s a question of the depth from which we live, and sadly, most of us are disconnected from our presence, and our being, most of the time.

    Luminaries such as Eckhart Tolle do a great job of reminding us!

    All the best,


  4. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Well said, Jym. There are so many layers of parenting and all of them are vital.

  5. Karen Sprague Says:

    Wish I had been able to live this last night.

  6. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Well, the good news, Karen, is that you have a chance to live it today, tonight and every day from now on!

  7. Susan Says:

    Thank you!

    Just hitting the edging of doing this/living this (albeit for brief periods initially) and ‘Oh how beautiful!’

  8. Phil Bolsta Says:

    I’m glad you found such meaning in these words, Susan!

  9. InaCircle Says:

    Hi Phil!
    I translated this article to my native language and published it in the blog I just started with intention to spread the wisdom I come across to people of the area of Balkan. I’ve put a link to your article at the end of the translation.
    Is this OK with you?

    Thank you for the article! I find topics like this crucial.
    Kind regards,

  10. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Certainly, Jasmina. Thank you!

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