Breaking the Cycle of Parenting Failure? Mindfulness is Your ONLY Friend!
The Cycle of Failure
‘Can’t you speak in any manner other than yelling?’ That was the critique my mother threw at me when she caught me yelling at my kid.
‘No’, was my prompt reply, ‘because that’s the only way I ever saw you
talking to us’.
But I was well aware of the stupidity of the excuse I was uttering. After all, my son wasn’t the one who yelled at me in my childhood. So, he didn’t deserve it.
I was sure that he deserved better.
But my subconscious mind knew no better way to treat.
Triumphant Subconscious Mind
It’s an unfortunate truth that most of the parents nowadays resort to treating their kids the way they were treated in their childhood. They cannot break free of their parents’ parenting habits and patterns.
Why wouldn’t they? Because of deeply ingrained habits that they internalized when they were kids, they are just a puppet of patterns they saw in their childhood.
There can be hundreds of different ways in which your childhood pattern could be appearing in your parenting style.
It could be you neglecting your child.
Or maybe you are a perfectionist when it comes to grades or social interactions, or sports.
If that is not the case, you can be a cleanliness freak who can’t bear your kid leaving their Lego blocks on the floor.
And if I know the underlying feelings of a losing parent, you are struggling with feelings of guilt and failure day in and day out. You wish there could be a magician with a magic wand who could make you a better parent than you got in your childhood.
Step 1: Acknowledge the Failure
But because there is no such magician out there, you resort to accepting, and advocating, these patterns as the normal tools of parenting. You tell yourself that you are sticking to all these thoughts, behaviors, and judgments because you care for your kid and have their best interests at heart.
Just look inside yourself and tell: are you really doing all this in your child’s best interest? And once you know the answer please stop hiding it from yourself.
Because, being a parent, you are in control. Believe me, you are!
Step 2: Practice Mindfulness
Once you have decided to acknowledge that this pattern is not normal and healthy, the next step is to eradicate it. And mindfulness is the best tool that would help you change your pattern.
How Mindfulness for Parents Helps Us Break Out of Guilt
The biggest benefit of mindfulness lies in the fact that it allows us to differentiate between our reality and our perception.
Our confused reality, in which we keep bringing our baggage from the past into our behaviors, is the primary reason for which we cannot break free of our habits. We give way more power to our past than it deserves.
The result is obvious: we end up projecting our past in our future and keep creating similar patterns and behaviors in our next days, weeks, and generations.
If we could only differentiate our emotions from the past from our emotions from the present moment, a significant portion of our worries would die in front of our eyes.
Mindfulness helps us do just that. It allows us to divide the emotion into our bodily responses, our surroundings’ influences, and our established thought patterns.
Discipline under Mindless Parenting
When an absent minded parent sees that their child is indulged in behavior which was frowned upon in the previous generation, they can’t help panicking. This panic takes the form of yelling, anger, corporal punishment, neglect, or shaming.
In other words, this panic manifests in any parenting behavior which is least beneficial to the child.
The problem further worsens when the parent realizes that what they are doing is just the opposite of what they should do for their child. This realization pushes them into a cycle of guilt and they experience another bout of panic.
The cycle only worsens with every other such realization.
This cycle of negative habits ends before starting if the parent is practicing mindfulness.
Discipline under Mindful Parenting
In mindful parenting, the parent analyzes their panic as soon as this emotion rises in them. This analysis allows them to be aligned with their own needs and those of their children.
It also allows them to align with their commitment to upholding their child’s wellbeing in every of their parenting decision and they end up taking a calculated and well-thought-out decision about the situation.
They won’t just pass on the baggage from past to future. Rather they would decide for the moment, for the little human in front of them, and for the family they make.
Consequently, when they respond, they respond with kindness and love for themselves and their children.
Lack of judgment and overwhelming emotions allow the children to focus on the direction parents give them rather than on the emotions of these parents.
There are various benefits of mindful parenting. But its biggest contribution lies in its ability to free up the parents from past conditioning.
If you are struggling with emotional baggage as a whole, you can benefit from mindfulness not just as a parenting tool but also as a personal liberation tool.
This article only focused on mindfulness as a trait of successful parents. Mindful parenting builds upon the same principle but shifts the focus from parent to child.
We shall discuss that parenting style in detail in another article.