Surrender in Parenting

One of the most challenging places surrender has come into play for our family is around our finances. What I want more than new shoes and frequent travel or a big house, is to mother my daughter in a way that blows my mind. She chose me, and I know fierce love. But love is not a prominent value our culture is led by, so…  Sigh… Finding paid work that supports this way of mothering has not been easy. Mothering by instinct, with strong attachment, gentleness and beauty, has meant surrendering my high-paid consulting work and the lifestyle that came with it. I want my child’s wellness more. I can’t be with her the way I want to, guiding her with my fierce love, if making “good” money weighs more. And hear me, this has been hard. Not because I ever struggle with the choice around how to mother her, but because it made me really angry when I realized how hard it could be for a mother to thrive financially, while, oh, doing the most important work there is: delivering and lovingly guiding new life. Surrender has been essential in this place. Otherwise, I’d be walking around holding on to anger, not a healthy choice.

Overall the most beneficial way surrender has shown up in my parenting life, is through my choice to embrace our family’s values and accept that this would not present to us the easy path. Quiet over noise and busyness, a small space to live rather than something fancy, choosing earth-honoring materials for toys, reimagining holidays away from consumption as a central principle, and now unschooling rather than school. All these ways have given us a chance to grow as communicators, to stand for our values, and this often involves finding the language to let our daughter know they why of it.

Overall the most beneficial way surrender has shown up in my parenting life, is through my choice to embrace our family’s values and accept that this would not present to us the easy path.

We love Mother Earth, so we want to respect her gifts and take care of her.

We like a small home, because it helps Mama be less grumpy about cleaning up.

You want Valentine’s notes for your friends? Let’s make some! We put time and love into things because it feels good, and we don’t have to go to a store to buy our joy.

For the naturally minded parent, surrender is necessary for sanity. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people is important so we feel seen and supported. Yet the world that’s not so resonant will greet our paths, too, and unless we want to cling and create ludicrous pain as a result (e.g. my two years of horrifically painful, multi-day migraines, which are now over!) … we must make surrender a very good friend.


Jessica Rios is a lifelong letter writer, 15-year Love and Leadership coach, and the founder of Leaning into Light. Her life’s work is dedicated to illuminating the beauty of the human spirit. Since she was a child, Love has been her religion. She lives with her husband and daughter in Petaluma, California. 

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