5 Keys To Mindful Parenting
As a spiritual counselor and mother of two amazing young adults, I am frequently asked about my secrets to mindful parenting. I have boiled the answer to the following:
Mindful parenting begins by knowing ourselves. When we know who we are, our gifts and our challenges, our joys and our fears, we are better able to fulfill our role as parents without projecting our unhealed wounds or unacknowledged fears onto our children. We are able to hold ourselves accountable to our insecurities and fears. When we lose our temper with our children we are able to own up to the anxiety or fear that just happened to come out sideways and then apologize to our children for our inappropriate behavior. Knowing ourselves allows us to be accepting of our imperfections and to be humble enough to say we are sorry. Through this, we are providing a healthy model of humility, accountability, and self-acceptance for our children.
Knowing We Have Nothing to Teach Our Children
I have a funny little mantra that I learned as a parent which I repeat often: “I know nothing and I have nothing to teach my children.” It is not my job to mold my children into some unrealized version of myself. Neither is it my job to make my children into some acceptable version of what society says they are supposed to be. Instead, it is my job to create a safe place in which my children can come into their own – becoming who and what they came here to be. It is my job to LISTEN to their deepest needs, wants and desires, and to be there as a source of comfort and support when they fall. It is also my job to give them the tools for knowing themselves, not only their gifts but also their fears and insecurities and provide them with resources for moving through those fears. In this, my children are the teachers and I am merely the one supporting them in finding their way.
Each and every human being comes into this world with a unique temperament, personality and set of gifts to fulfill their unique mission and purpose in this lifetime. It is our task to love our children enough to allow them to discover who they are and who they are meant to be, without our interference. In order to do this, we need to know and love ourselves. Only in loving ourselves can we extend unconditional love to our children and provide for them (as we have done for ourselves) the proper space and support for discovering, cultivating and then ultimately being empowered in their gifts. Holding our children in the space of unconditional love also means showing that love every chance we get and in whatever way we best show love, while also finding out what our children need from us to know they are loved.
Expectations and Boundaries
A local church recently conducted a survey among a population of teens who were identified as “at risk” and asked them to compose a Letter to the Editor, which expressed what they needed from their parents. Their unanimous response was boundaries. Every single one of these students expressed that what they needed from their parents were clearly expressed and enforced expectations around curfew, who they should and should not hang around with, homework, grades, etc.
One caveat I would add to setting and enforcing expectations and boundaries is that they be reasonable. For example, I know my children are capable of being A/B students. I have set this expectation with them, while also stating that more than grades I expect them to do their best. When they fall short of the established goal, together we look deeper to find out why they are not achieving this goal. In every case, it was because the curriculum or the teaching styles were somehow in conflict with my children’s unique learning style. Once we were able to identify this, we made their teacher aware of the situation and together we worked to adjust their study skills to accommodate the difference.
Time to Simply Be
We live in a culture that measures our success by how much we do and what we accomplish. As a result, many families are so busy doing and molding their children to be doers that they forget to create space for being. Being is absolutely critical to our emotional, psychological, mental and spiritual health and it is in the being, not the doing, where we find out who we truly are. If we are not taking time out to simply be – being in nature, sitting in quiet, listening to music or reading a book, simply enjoying the company of each other’s presence – we will never hear the still, quiet voice of our Soul where our truth resides and where we come to know our gifts and the purpose for which we are here in this life.
Apply these five keys to mindful parenting and watch your children blossom!
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