I was watching my daughters play when my oldest grabbed a toy out of the youngest daughter's hands. Older sis barks a command, "Don't do it like that!"
Two things happened at once. I realized, "Whoa, this is what I sound like sometimes," AND my temper jumped up.
Two years earlier, I might have yelled. But instead I was able to keep my cool. I handled it with compassion (big win!).
And I was able to shift my own rude language that my oldest daughter was modeling (bonus!).
What's the secret sauce?
I was able to make those changes because of mindfulness practice.
Parenting today is about shifting generational patterns of shame and blame. And mindfulness is the foundation that conscious parenting is built on.
Why? Here's 12 reasons:
1. A healthy relationship with your child starts with a healthy relationship with yourself. Researcher Brene Brown tells us, "we can only love others as much as we love ourselves." Children see right through that "do as I say" crap. You have to have a healthy relationship with yourself first. Mindfulness helps this.
2. Kids push our buttons. Yikes! So true. Parenting requires lots and lots of equanimity. When we freak out and yell at are kids, it doesn't help matters much, does it? Mindfulness helps us become more calm. (Study.)
3. We don't want to pass on our issues. No way, Jose. Self-esteem issues, body-image issues, temper issues -- we don't want our kids to deal with that stuff. Mindfulness helps us to see ourselves clearly. With that clarity, we can start to heal and NOT unconsciously pass our issues on. Mindfulness makes us more conscious.
4. Mindfulness helps us sleep better. (Study.) Suffering with insomnia? Good luck holding yourself together for Junior's latest crisis. Let's get some sleep, parents.
5. Mindfulness improves the immune system. (Study.) How many sicknesses do your kids bring home? A fair amount probably. Especially if you have toddlers who are putting everything in their mouths. We not parenting well when we're wiped out with a flu.
6. Parents need clearer thinking. (Study.) Ever tried to mediate a sibling conflict when feeling fuddled and muddled? We need to be the level head that can get to the root of all the problems, issues, and dramas our kids bring home.
7. Mindfulness reduces anxiety. (Study.) Fear, worry and anxiety are NOT good parenting mindsets. They lead to helicopter-parenting and stifle kids. Don't go there, folks.
8. Mindfulness makes you happier. Have you seen the studies that say that having kids actually makes people unhappier? Prove them wrong by practicing mindfulness. You'll increase your serotonin production to improve your mood and behavior. Besides, are you a better parent when you're happy or when you're grumpy? Case closed.
9. Problems become smaller. We need to stay grounded, folks. Especially when your child comes to you in the throes of a drama. When we're objective about their (and our) problems, we have more energy for peaceful resolutions.
10. Mindfulness increases physical energy levels. (Article.) You know what kind of energy it takes to run after a toddler. We parents need all the energy we can get.
11. Mindfulness releases accumulated stress. (Study). There's no kind of stress like the kind when your five-year old refuses to go to school in the morning (so true...sigh). We need to release this stress on a regular basis.
12. Mindfulness lets us be more present. Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh says, "When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?" Enough said.
How do I practice?
Mindfulness doesn't have to be difficult.
You can practice it with the support of myself and others in my free virtual mindfulness retreat.