What is Mindful Parenting?
“If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
Parenting is a journey unlike any other. There are highs and lows, ups and downs. To be responsible for the life and well being of another human being is a beautiful thing, yet at times it can feel overwhelming and thoroughly challenging. Parenting offers us the opportunity to experience aspects of ourselves that we may not have realized existed. From joy, excitement and pride to worry, guilt and anger, parenting leads us through the full range and roller coaster of human emotion.
Mindfulness is a natural complement to parenting in that it supports parents in being fully present with our children in the joyful as well as the challenging moments. Mindfulness also supports parents in staying connected to their children as well as themselves, through self-awareness and self-compassion, so they can respond to challenging behavior thoughtfully and intentionally rather than reacting automatically out of anger, frustration or confusion.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn,
“Parenting through mindfulness has the potential to penetrate past surface appearances and behaviors and allow us to see our children as they truly are, so we can act with some degree of wisdom and compassion. The more we are able to keep in mind the intrinsic wholeness and beauty of our children – especially when it’s difficult to see – the more our ability to be mindful deepens.”
Above all, mindfulness supports parents in navigating the ups and downs of parenting with a greater sense of awareness, intention, compassion and ease.
The best way to teach children about mindfulness is to practice and model it ourselves.