Parenting Mindfully or At Least Laughing While I Try
School days can be long both for parents and children alike. As the level of energy lulls and emotions grow a little volatile, it is so easy to find myself wanting to tell the girls to stop doing certain things (i.e. screaming or hitting) just because it is bad. Period. Done. No further explanation required. Sure I might even get the desired result. However, is that really what I am intending, to have my girls live between the lines of good and bad, right and wrong? What happens in the future when I am not there to offer my opinions on good and bad? Will they have the capacity to determine on their own or will they look for rules being set by others? This is not my intention at all. I want my girls to be independent thinkers. I want them to be more conscious of the way they are acting and feeling and how the two affect both themselves and those around them. Through that understanding, I hope they will have the tools to moderate their actions, words and deep inner experience in a way which will help them flourish and feel balanced in life.
So last night, instead of saying “Don’t scream and interrupt your sister because it’s bad”, I chose to take a deep breath. I went on to explain why I felt patience was an important quality. In addition to patience, it is important to offer someone who is speaking to you, your attention and respect and to listen fully, especially when that someone is your sister or a person whom you love and respect, and who offers you the same. Last night, that did the trick. I will confess that it doesn’t work all the time, but I prefer this approach when I can remember, rather than resorting to threats of being good or bad, right or wrong.
In order to parent in this way, it requires the parent to feel balanced as well. I know days I am exhausted, I don’t have this capacity. Self-care becomes a very important part of parenting. Deepening awareness of myself and my energy are essential. I can’t ask my kids to do all the challenging working of turning in, if I don’t have the capacity myself. They both go hand in hand. Parenting becomes a full support of practicing self-care and mindfulness. I find that humor is essential too. Especially in the moments, where either you lose it with your children, or regardless of trying to parent mindfully, all goes awry. Laughing your way through the insanity and craziness will actually help keep you sane. Parenting is hard work. It is my biggest practice of yoga yet. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. My girls continue to be my greatest teachers of all and I am so immensely thankful to have them in my life.
I love you Sophia and Sonia.