How many parents have said at one point or another, “I wish my child would have come with a users’ manual,”? Nearly every single one.
Nothing can really prepare us for parenthood. No class, no advice, and no user manual can give us the tools we require for raising happy and healthy kids. The truth is, to be good parents requires us to be conscious parents.
Mindfulness – It’s Not Just for Meditation
Your 8-year-old runs in from the backyard, excited to tell you about the frog he just found in a puddle. Before you even recognize his joy and desire to share that joy with you, you yell because of the mud he just tracked into the house.
Was this reaction really warranted? Were you reacting just to the mud on the floor (which can be cleaned), or do you have a need to control everything in your environment at all times? And does this need stem from your own childhood wounds?
Often parents react to their children subconsciously. That is, they have a knee-jerk reaction to something their child says or does. This reaction may stem from an event that occurred in their own childhood and, without realizing it, they are having a profound reaction to it instead of to their child’s current behavior. Conscious parenting requires mindfulness, and mindfulness requires a parent to be fully present in the moment. Bringing our full awareness into the ‘now’ can help us recognize the meaning and truth in each moment and make better, healthier decisions.
Mindful parents are less likely to have automatic, unexamined reactions to their children’s behavior. Staying present also means parents are less likely to “pop back” into their own childhood traumas and wounds.
Getting Started with Conscious Parenting
Conscious parenting is easier than it sounds. To start, you’ve got to slow down so you recognize when you are reacting to a present moment authentically and when you are reacting to your own past moment.
And speaking of slowing down, try and take a three-second pause before reacting to anything your kid does. This small space will allow you to check yourself. Does the reaction you were about to have match the actual situation? If not, what WERE you reacting to?
And finally, forgive yourself for any past parenting errors. We all do the best we can do. As Maya Angelou once said, “When you know better, you do better.”
Speaking with a therapist may help you discover old wounds and programming you are parenting from. If you’d like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. Ocean Vista Counseling would be very happy to discuss how we may be able to help.