How Mindfulness Helps You as Parent
When was the last time when you met your perfectionist mom(parent)-self?
A day ago?
Ten seconds ago?
Or maybe they were the one who brought (read: dragged) you to this blog?
Now tell me what was your critic telling you? Did they emotionally blackmail you? Or did they tell you ways to improve your behavior as a mom?
If you are like most of the parents in the modern world, the first option will suit you best. Our inner critic is our self-esteem’s worst enemy. And if you are a parent, its effects only intensify.
So, what can we do to effectively deal with our inner critic?
If we are mindful, we are aware of our emotions, their patterns, and their appearance. Mindfulness is the first step towards emotional liberation. If you feel paralyzed in front of your internal criticism, or if you feel overwhelmed by the negative thoughts that come to your mind with the smallest difficulty, you should build a long-lasting relationship with mindfulness.
Apart from helping parents with their negative thoughts and self-criticism, mindfulness has a myriad of benefits to offer to them. Let’s see how mindfulness can help us in our navigation through parenting journey.
Calmness is Guaranteed
Mindfulness, if it is done rightly, helps the practitioner to dissociate themselves from their emotions. It allows you to take the responsibility of your thoughts rather than delegating responsibility to your thoughts.
In other words, mindfulness gives you a feeling of power and control over your thoughts.
When I started doing mindfulness meditation, I learned that I can feel the feeling without attaching myself with it. By not getting aligned with a feeling I was allowing it to flow and cover its journey of a few seconds (more on it later).
This sense of empowerment translated into calm feeling knowing that feelings, being phases, will pass.
A mindful parent is calm and aware.
Calmness Leads to Better Discipline
In today’s world, one important task parents have taken up is disciplining their children.
Various tools parents use to get desired behaviors from kids include rewards and consequences. The point is that these tools, alone, are short-term solutions and often tend to complicate the issue even further.
If we really want to use these tools for our benefits, we must combine them with mindfulness.
Take the example of giving time out. If you tell your kid to stand in the corner, angrily (which is a form of mindlessness), you tell them that they have messed up. Plus, you also tell them that love, and connection, should be withheld if the child does something wrong. They will learn that love is conditional and may develop a lack of self-love.
Now consider another scenario:
Your child misbehaves and you are mindful of your goal as a parent to maintain the connection and use it help the child grow their emotional strength. Cooling off time seems to be the most appropriate exercise for the momentary misbehavior. You tell your child or use pre-determined visual and audio cues to tell them, that they need a break. You tell them it’s okay to feel the emotion they are experiencing and also that they need to protect themselves and others from the behavior that accompanies this emotion. Then you tell them to isolate themselves so they can lovingly unwind.
In this situation, the child knows that they are still loved. So they let their feelings pass without judging these feelings and without loathing themselves for having these feelings.
In the long-term, they would steer away from depression and anxiety because they would always know they are safe and loved.
Mindful parenting in messy world is the first step towards raising emotionally healthy families.
It Makes You Present
The modern lifestyle is full of distractions. If these distractions are not coming from our social media, our changing work styles, and our continued connection with the digital world; it comes from our past baggage, our sky-high expectations, and our anxious minds.
It gets to the point that twenty things keep running in our minds even when we attentively talk to kids. The modern human-mind is a monkey mind. We cannot keep it calm even for a couple of moments.
Mindfulness is the best tool to gradually decrease the number of thoughts that run through your mind.
Once these, seemingly, urgent thoughts die down, we find that we have far more time to attend to our kids than we previously believed.
Mindful parents are more aware of their children attention needs and are more available to them.
Is there any skill more important for effective communication then empathy?
I don’t think so.
What is the shortest route to flexing your empathy muscle?
Nothing but hearing attentively comes to mind. And how can you pay attention to someone’s words when your mind is present elsewhere.
In short, mindfulness is the start of happy vibrant relationships. And the same becomes even truer when the relationship is with your family.
Make a mindset of being present and aware of your internal and external circumstances when you are talking to your kids. This will help you understand them better.
Communication is the Key Beneficiary
Empathy translates into a better understanding of the second person’s emotions. Once you have understood their needs, you can use your awareness of your needs and circumstances to come up with better responses.
Mindfulness for parents keeps them grounded to their reasons. It stops momentary emotions and perception from coming in the way of effective, goal-congruent communication.
When you are mindful of your communication, you thrive for win-win situations and are more equipped to ditch impulsive behaviors.
Emotional Awareness Leads to Better Decisions
Calmness and empathy are the two most quoted side-effects of being mindful.
Mindfulness helps you in remaining focused on your vision. This way, you don’t feel tempted by the attractions of giving in or giving up on minding your child’s behavior and interest.
Another benefit is your ability to not take your child’s behavior personally. Consequently, you stop yourself from being helicopter parenting.
In short, mindfulness for parents helps to look at the wider picture of raising children so you can act more responsibly at the moment.
Its Impacts on Health are Significant
We have seen how mindfulness helps us improve our emotional state. Once we have improved our emotions, these emotions will take care of our decisions and the consequences of these decisions.
In short, we enter into a chain reaction of gradually becoming stronger and better at life and parenthood.
In the end, low stress levels appear in our better physical health.
But that’s just one way of mindfulness acting on our physical health. Another is a healthy lifestyle that accompanies this mindset.
When we are mindful parents, we are better able to take care of our exercise, diet, and routine of ourselves and our family. If we commit to it, a mindfully healthy lifestyle can do miracles with our health.
It Increases Our Satisfaction from Life
When I started mindfulness, I came to realize that most of my stress and worries arise out of my internal patterns.
It’s the reality that 90% of our struggles relate not to how things unfold materialistically rather it arises from how we approach these happenings.
For most people, emotions determine their satisfaction from life. If you are depressed, money, relationships, love, and intelligence are useless for you. If you are happy, you can be happy alone and poor.
There is no connection between worldly signs of success and satisfaction from life.
Does this mean that we are doomed if we are depressed?
It seems like an impossibility for most people. But, you can remain content even when you are under a lot of emotional stress. All you need is to not hate your emotions. Once you embrace your emotions, feel them, and let them pass, they will flow in and then out your body.
Mindfulness allows us to understand that emotions are just phases. But these phases will only pass if we don’t judge them or hate them.
When we are navigating through a difficult emotion, mindfulness allows us to empathize with this emotion while giving us hope that it too shall pass.
Liberation is the Starting Point
Mindfulness allows you to understand your emotions better. When you practice it, you find that there is a difference between you and your emotions. It’s you who choose, or not choose, to embody your emotions.
According to neuroscientist, Jill Bolte-Taylor, the life span of most emotions is just 90 seconds. Most people choose to resuscitate this emotion after this 90-second period. And here is where enters the problem.
Mindfulness allows you to connect with this emotion for only this much time and then it allows you to see it going.
In short, mindfulness allows you to see your emotions for what they really are: just phases and not a definition of your whole emotional setup.
If you practice mindfulness, you gradually claim back your power over your emotions. Your kids will get an emotionally stronger parent. And you will have to live with a more confident self-image.
There are hundreds of advantages of adopting mindfulness as a mindset. Which of these benefits are powerful enough for you to start the practice? Share with us!