Mindful Strategies for Parenting
This will conclude my blogs on parenting with mindfulness for now. When I am challenged as a parent and struggle to be present – start with compassion for myself. Parenting is a tough job – each of us has many strengths
and challenges. If I keep the child-parent relationship needs primary instead of criticizing myself, I can be a more effective and connected parent.
Wake up: We can’t be good parents if we are captured by distraction, are avoiding awareness, or running through life. Wake up means stop whatever I am doing, take a breath, look around and perk up my interest in my children.
Pay attention: Allow myself to feel whatever is coming up for me. Stay curious. What is under this frustration or anger? Is there something that I am afraid of right now?
Be receptive: What is going on for my child right now? Focus on them and not me. Show mindfulness by listening carefully, letting go of judgment and telling my child how it’s going to be. What is their experience? What are their ideas? I can Listen for their needs and their wisdom to help them grow and for me to be their safe harbour. See things from their point of view. There is usually more than one way to accomplish what is needed.
Open heart: Remember what it was like to be a child – all the struggles and disappointments and not knowing yet being expected to know. Open heart and compassion begins with connecting with my own pain that mirrors my children’s. Open heart also means unconditional love – I love themI even though they make mistakes, I love them even though they are messy and needy. I love me even though I am angry/feel guilty right now.
Choose kindness: I am mindful of the values and qualities I want myself and my children to practice. It is helpful when I get up in the morning to set my intention for the day: I will be kind to myself and others today. This primes the pump. When in doubt, ask: what is the kindest thing I can do for my child and myself. At the end of the day celebrate my success and notice when I lost my mindfulness of kindness so I can face that obstacle another way next time.
See children as they are, not as I want them to be: Children have so much to learn by trial and error. There needs to be lots of room for making mistakes and learning thoughtfully from them. Each child is unique and develops in her/his own way. When I see my child(ren) as they really are I can celebrate their successes without telling them how they don’t measure up.
See myself as I am, not as super mom or dad: I can let go of unrealistic expectations of myself – to do it all, provide everything, and never lose it. It just isn’t possible. By having realistic expectations of myself I can relax in the moment and work with the situation as it is to the best of my ability. A strong relationship based on mindfulness only gets better.