Mindful Parenting: Responding Properly to our Children
Mindfulness is a term we hear bandied about a lot at the moment, and I know a lot of people who rate it highly as a way to cope with stress and keep themselves on an even keel.
But like anything it takes time...to research it and learn how to do it, to implement it and see the benefits.
So despite being intrigued by the concept it's not something I've every really understood fully enough to implement...because I've never found the time to go through the process.
But with the knowledge of how well regarded it is, my interest was piqued when I came across this post on a Facebook page just now, courtesy of www.gooeybrains.com. It's all about how we interact with our children..and I mean REALLY interact.
When faced with the chaos and noise of everyday life, trying to get the dinner on while emptying the school bags, washing the football kit, checking emails and arbitrating squabbles, it can be really hard to maintain equilibrium. So when a child comes to you with a problem or request, this can be the hardest time to respond well.
Sure, we all have our glorious parenting moments where we can look back and feel 'I was on good form and I think I handled that right'. There may not be many of them, but they happen! But I know only too well that when you're tired, especially late in the day or when faced with the deadline of the school bell or work pressure, the chances of these glorious moments happening are significantly reduced.
Instead, we fight the fire, respond in the quickest way we can to 'resolve' or, more likely, diffuse the situation. But have we really done this in the child's mind, or have we just batted the issue away?
We can't be perfect parents
Saying all of this, I have some reservations. I have read a couple of articles recently on why you should never tell your daughter she is pretty, or your son that they're bright (note the gender biases in those articles for a start!). I even read one recently where someone pronounced with absolutely certainty that if you 'fell foul' of any of their 12 self-proclaimed laws of parenting, you were 'a bad parent'....(but don't worry, you could change and correct this!).
I do wonder where people feel they get the right to make these statements...sure, it's a free society, but not one where we should all beat each other up. It's like walking a constant parenting tightrope....ooops, i told my daughter she was pretty, now her self-esteem will come from all the wrong places and she'll be ruined! Is that really what we're trying to make parents feel? In any case, how does destroying the self-esteem of parents make us perform better?
Let's focus on parenting tools and advice that help us
So when I read this poster from gooey brains.com, it resonated. Not only am I aware of fire fighting, but I get a little bit tired of feeling like I'm doing it all wrong and having that reinforced by some of the parenting messages I read on the web.
But the messages in this poster give a simple, positive statement; one that is easy enough to implement and that I am sure will lead to rapid benefits both in my children and my own perception of the job I am doing.
So I'm going to try this...to stop and breathe before I respond, and make sure that response doesn't just bat the issue away. None of us would want that from our bosses, so I'm going to try not to do it with my children...and I'm going to feel better for it.