Parenting can be the most rewarding and yet the most challenging thing we do.
Some of us become parents by choice and some of us by accident. However we
came to the role we are in it for the long haul. Our children can have the ability to bring out the worst and the best in us. They can have an eerie ability to spot our weaknesses or behaviours we might not be too proud of, and reflect them right back at us.
Through mindful parenting we learn that it’s okay to do our best and not always ‘get it right’. Practicing mindfulness does not mean that we will never judge or get irritated again; it just means we will recognise when we are doing it and ask ourselves “How does that feel?”, or “Is there another way?”
We also learn the mindfulness concept of ‘beginners mind’ as parents. A strategy or approach that worked yesterday or last week might not work today. What they ate last week they might not like today. How we approach one child might not work at all with the next. And so we learn to view each day and each situation with new eyes, in the present moment.
There is no single or perfect way to parent. We can only ever do our best with the resources that we have in the moment. We don’t need to be perfect, we only need to be the best that we can. And to remember that in spite of our best intentions, we will make mistakes and have times of imperfection simply because we are human.
Mindfulness means bringing non-judgemental awareness in the best way that we can, to our experience in each moment. As we bring mindfulness to parenting, we develop the ability to be present and to listen with full attention to our children. We begin to recognise each child or teenager’s unique nature, qualities, abilities and feelings. We see them as they are and not as we want them to be, without judging ourselves or them.There are many parenting programmes and books out there telling us ‘how to’ parent. Mindful parenting courses however teach ‘how to be’ as parents. We learn to see with our own inner wisdom and integrity and although we can look to others for a different perspective or possible approaches we come to see that we are our own experts at any given time in a particular situation.
Mindful parenting courses also teach how to become less reactive in our parenting and more responsive. We can also learn to step back and evaluate the different aspects of a situation which enables us to be more likely to effectively respond to a situation than our usual knee jerk reaction.