When it comes to family dynamics and parenting, few phenomena have captured the imagination quite like the resurgence of psychedelics in therapeutic exploration.
Simultaneously, the concept of mindful parenting has gained traction, emphasizing the importance of conscious and compassionate interactions between parents and their children.
With entheogens and mind-altering substances now being explored as a treatment for mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, there is no doubt room for exploration of their effects on family dynamics.
In this article, we discuss the fascinating intersection of psychedelic medicines and the boundaries of self-awareness, empathy, and our deepest, most intimate relationships—those with our families.
At its core, this exploration delves into how the transformative potential of psychedelics aligns with the principles of mindful parenting and how many struggling parents are beginning to acknowledge the potential of psychedelics.
How Psychedelics Can Support Healthy Family Dynamics
Throughout this article, we reference two mothers who were kind enough to share about their experiences with psychedelics while navigating motherhood, and both have requested to remain anonymous in this article by using aliases.
As we reference their insights, we hope that their openness illuminates these points, offering hope and a closer look at the ways in which psychedelic substances can be incredibly transformative.
Increase Self-Compassion: Heal Shame Around Our Parenting Choices
When it comes to psychedelics, Colleen started experimenting prior to her pregnancies, however these substances have been a true catalyst in helping her relate to herself in new ways post-birth.
“I remember a day after the journey for the first time actually feeling love for myself…like just the actual emotion of love when I was thinking of myself, and I had felt it for other people and for, you know, animals or whatever, but I couldn’t actually feel it for myself.
To actually have that somatic sensation of energy of love toward myself was a life changing situation for me,” she shared.
Loving yourself first may seem like a luxury in mindful parenting, but prioritizing yourself truly prepares you for a greater capacity for patience, love, and compassion when interacting with others.
Ruth on the other hand began her psychedelic experimentation two years after having her twin daughters.
“I have some guilt for how I’ve shown up for my girls and their first two years of life, and I know that that’s a very important time.
I don’t know that I was fully able to connect, especially the first couple months. I did not feel connected to them, and I was trying not to guilt or shame myself,” she said.
In discussing her battles with postpartum depression, Ruth expressed that microdosing and a larger-dose ceremony played an integral role in releasing that shame and finding greater presence with her daughters now at two years old.
In describing her ceremonial dose, she said:
“It was really beautiful. I could basically see my whole nervous system. It was like this green flowing… glowing highway throughout my whole body and system.
And I could see stemming from my feet a continuation of this stream of light, and one was connected to each of my daughters, and I had a pregnancy that I didn’t continue after I had my girls.
They were 8 months old, and I became pregnant again and I didn’t keep the pregnancy. That pregnancy was also attached there…
The thought of going through a pregnancy again and being even further in the hormonal space I was in was too much, so i really consciously made a connection with that pregnancy before terminating and sent it so much love and so much respect…
It was so interesting and really beautiful to see that my babies that are on this side with me are connected to me but also that that pregnancy is still connected to me too.”
This willingness to prioritize one’s own needs within the parenting dynamic can also be a living example set by you for your children. It teaches them what a healthy relationship with one’s own needs looks like so they can better act on them in their own lives.
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Slowing Down Our Reactivity Response
Another key way that psychedelics can impact our relationships is through helping us find a new way of interacting with our emotions. Instead of being taken on this ride, we can sit back and observe our feelings and choose how to act on them.
“If i can just stay calm and focus on my breathing and calming my nervous system and reminding myself that im safe, my baby is safe, we’re ok, they pick up on that,” Ruth said.
This ability to stay regulated in the face of heightened emotional and energetic situations is not only a profound tool to have when coping with life’s intensity, but also helps co-regulate and exemplify to observing children a healthy relationship with our emotions.
Colleen shared, “When I’m working with my children and there’s a challenging experience that’s happening with them, I used to be kind of quick to anger or I would have a lot more of my own frustration.
I wasn’t so able to self-regulate and calm my own nervous system down… So through working with these medicines, I‘ve since been able to learn, one, how to release these kinds of traumas and energies and emotions out of my nervous system so that i’m not
just carrying them around with me all the time like a giant heavy backpack, but, two, to be able to sit in that deep presence and be able to not be so quick to judge them.”
Psychedelics change the brain through creating a bit of objectivity and distance with our emotional behaviors, helping us see the bigger picture, and helping us prioritize according to our highest goals.
Opening Up to Learning & Play
Can you imagine taking a hallucinogen in the presence of your children? Many people would attribute that to irresponsible and shameful behavior.
However, in indigenous earth-based traditions, those lineages utilized ayahuasca and other psychedelic plant medicines in familial settings, as it was a time for connecting with higher powers and honoring this life.
When it comes to her own children, Colleen expressed that when done intentionally and safely, their presence around the time of a ceremony can offer a unique and beautiful energy and perspective to the experience.
“Especially with heart openers or…psilocybin dosages, it’s really beautiful to be in space with that energy and to feel the childlike playfulness,” she said.
Both mothers mentioned that utilizing psychedelic medicines has helped them open up to listening and learning in a state of humility—that not only are they there to teach their children but their children are there to teach them.
This reciprocal relationship facilitates greater mutual respect and appreciation for each other.
“That’s been a blessing, because it’s some of the ways that he’s helped to heal me. It’s not like I lean on him for healing.
It just has happened naturally through our relationship with each other that he has just shared with me so much beauty and joy and wonder in the world,” Colleen shared.
Ruth likewise expressed that her relationship with her daughters has become a beautiful dance which she can have greater presence for now.
“Patience and playfulness… It’s easier for me to access that inner child playful spirit with my girls since having my ceremony,” she said.
Generating Familial Closeness, Presence, Honesty & Empathy
It’s no surprise that psychedelic medicines like psilocybin increase empathy and closeness with our loved ones. In previous articles, we actually covered how these substances interact with our intimate relationships and relationship dynamics.
When it comes to parenting styles, Colleen expressed that plant medicines have inspired in her “a gentle parenting approach” rather than one that is authoritarian or commanding.
“When I parent now, it’s more from a place of…we are all human beings that are existing together in the same realm, in the same home, and we do have to figure out a way to coexist.
And I am here to teach you, but you’re also here to teach me, and that we teach each other in different ways.
I have wisdom that they need and they have wisdom that I need and energy that they can share with me to help my own wellbeing and health… it’s like a symbiotic relationship as opposed to a hierarchical one,” she said.
“Freedom is a real value that we have in our household and we always speak about psychedelics in coordination and connection to that freedom, because I do feel it’s a freedom that’s being taken away from us,” she said.
And returning back to that concept of self-compassion first, she shared,
“If I’m unhappy than my kids are going to be unhappy…I think the biggest thing that I’ve noticed is that after working with medicine, I have learned deeper and deeper ways to open my heart and to be in presence with the people that I’m with and my children and that has made the biggest difference in my parenting.”
It’s true especially when being a parent that you cannot pour from an empty cup, so this delicate balance of making sacrifices while still prioritizing your own wellbeing is really important.
Healing Generational Trauma: Breaking the Cycle for Your Children
Lastly, psychedelic medicines are known for invoking healing on profoundly deep levels that sometimes even span beyond a single individual’s lifetime.
Repeating generational patterns, fulfilling unconscious impulses, and failing to take true ownership and responsibility over your life can lead to endless perpetuation of familial suffering.
How can we become consciously aware of these elements in our lives and choose to act differently? Many argue that psychedelics have been the catalyst for that personal change.
For Colleen, as a psychedelic facilitator, she found empowerment in working with her shamanic guides in ceremony to help her find her footing during a tough time.
“Being unhappy is enough of a reason not to stay in your relationship, and it never crossed my mind that I had that much freedom in my life at that time to just literally leave because I was unhappy.
It was one of those things that sticks in your head after a journey. I just kept repeating it to myself over and over…
Being unhappy is enough of a reason to leave, and my kids deserve to see me happy and to see me living a life of freedom to be who I am,” she said.
Similarly, Ruth shared, “I know what’s best for my kids is that they have a mom who is healthy and happy and can fully show up for myself, so I can fully show up for them.”
“Looking back as a parent now—and I believe due to my psychedelic use—I can be the different perspective which is: if you have a child that’s in pain, to begin with the responsibility in yourself and to be showing up for that child as opposed to blaming and shaming them,” she said.
Psychedelics offer us a path through the stagnancy, unhealthy patterns, and limiting beliefs to find a greater understanding of ourselves and the kinds of families we want to create.
Becoming the Parent You Want To Be With Psychedelics
In this section, we wanted to propose a list of intentions and opportunities to promote healthy family dynamics, bonding, and mutual support. This list is geared more toward parents, however everyone can relate to these points.
Psychedelics may help you:
- Remain present and mindful with your loved ones
- See new perspectives and learn from others
- Foster creative problem solving in your relationships
- Stay grounded in your own needs and move from a place of self-compassion, care, and honor
- Increase your empathy, compassion, and respect for those you care for
- Invoke an intentional relationship with your emotions and expressions when in the presence of your loved ones
- Decrease shame and judgment for self and others
- Enhance active and open listening skills
- Improve compassionate and honest communication
- Create an atmosphere of playfulness and curiosity, especially with your children or future children
- Deepen familial bonds and increase love and appreciation for those in your life
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