Imagine bringing mindfulness into your parenting journey. Imagine finding a source of peace and acceptance with yourself and your kids, even at the worst of times. Imagine being able to take a breath and pause before you react in an unhelpful way. Imagine developing a self-care ritual so you don’t feel so overwhelmed and so stressed. Parents have a huge impact on their children. Our kids watch us and model our actions, words, and emotions based on how we conduct ourselves. It is not so much what you say, as what you do.
Parenting Fantasy vs. Parenting Reality
I was a single parent for most of my daughter’s life; I divorced when she was three. I had a lot of strikes against me: I was quite young, had little family support, and limited money. What I did have going for me was a fierce love for my daughter.
I brought with me in my parenting journey an idealized notion of what it was like to be a parent. I imagined peaceful, beautiful times filled with laughter and love. I also brought with me my own childhood and growing-up baggage. Despite my good intentions, I was emotionally ill-equipped to deal with the ups and downs of parenting.
I emerged into adulthood with the notion that I would not do what my parents did. I would do better. I would raise my daughter with more love and acceptance than I experienced. I held onto this intention as my guiding mantra. I chanted “I will do better, I will give my daughter a better life than I had.” Isn’t that what all parents want for their children?
I didn’t know what to do with my daughter’s strong emotions when they occurred. Or how to help and comfort myself or her when I was feeling depressed and overwhelmed. When the teen years came, I wanted to be there for her, but I found myself easily triggered and I would say and do things that I later regretted.
There is no Training Manual
My daughter is now grown up and a mother of two, and I still fiercely love her and my grandchildren! They are still the most important beings on this Earth to me (well, besides my husband). So despite me, she grew into a wonderfully solid and creative woman, and a wonderful mother. I know that she also fiercely loves her children and that she would move mountains for them.
This is what we do as parents; we love our kids. We have our hopes and dreams for them; our best intentions are pledged for them. But, we are often ill-equipped to do this most important job of all. There is no training manual that arrives with the baby. No one prepares us for the sleepless nights, the worries, and all of the bumps on the road.
What Mindfulness can offer
Mindfulness has made a profound impact on me and my entire family. As I continue my practice, I have become kinder and more gentle, and I can see people around me with much more clarity. I can let go of my judgments and practice acceptance of what is. I feel a profound peace that I am okay and so are my loved ones. I can now see that the most profound thing I can do is to love them unconditionally and support them along life’s journey.
Remember: Mindfulness is not about perfection. We simply need to be present; present for ourselves and for our children. We will make mistakes along the way, but we can always begin again. And again. And again.