Well-being and Mindfulness for Parents
“One generation full of deeply loving parents
would change the brain of the next generation,
and with that, the world.”
~Dr. Charles Raison
There is no doubt about it, raising children is one of the most rewarding experiences in our lives, and, as you know, it can also be one of the most challenging! It doesn’t mean we’re not good parents if we admit it’s challenging. We are simply acknowledging what the experience feels like at times! Many, if not most, parents are running on empty and living on autopilot. So many of us are overscheduled, overwhelmed, chronically stressed, and exhausted, without realizing we are teaching our children to live the same way. Without a doubt, parents have nothing but the best of intentions when raising their children and are doing their best. This little poem captures the enormous responsibility we have as role models for our children:
There are little eyes upon you and they’re watching night and day.
There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say.
There are little hands all eager to do anything you do;
And a little child who’s dreaming of the day he’ll be like you.
You’re the child’s idol, you’re the wisest of the wise.
In his little mind about you no suspicions ever rise.
This child believes in you devoutly, holds all you say and do;
He will say and do, in your way when he’s grown up just like you.
There’s a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you’re always right;
and his eyes are always opened, and he watches day and night.
You are setting an example every day in all you do;
For the little child who’s waiting to grow up to be just like you.
Children soak in and model after the things we do and say so parents have an essential role in modeling and being mindful, kindful, and skillful! It’s no wonder that the enormity of our responsibilities can lead to feelings of overwhelm, stress, exhaustion, and even inadequacy in our role as a parent, which can negatively impact our health, well-being, and relationships with loved ones. Parents often put themselves last when it comes to caring for the family, because we think that’s how it’s supposed to be. No one taught us anything different. Until now. I would love to share with you what I wish I learned as a young parent. (See our Adult Services and Programs!)
So with those little eyes upon you learning from your very way of being, how do you know the best way to help your child learn?
“Adults teach children in three important ways:
The first is by example,
the second is by example,
and the third is by example.” (1)
Children cannot be what they can’t see! For your child to experience well-being, it is vital that you practice well-being for yourself. You help your child best when you help him/her understand and regulate strong emotions because you are learning to understand and regulate your own; you help your child to be compassionate because you are demonstrating compassion for yourself and for others; you help your child to develop positive attitudes and healthy lifestyles when you choose to do the same. Over time and with practice, children will learn to access the tools within their hearts and minds to handle any challenges in life with the same skills which they observed in YOU!
“When we are not taking care of ourselves, we end up in a cycle of deprivation in which the activities of our day deplete our energetic and emotional reserves.” ~Sarah McKelvey, MA, NCC
There is no shortage of information available to us in this day and age to gain ideas on parenting, however it can be daunting navigating through the mountains of information available at the push of a button on the internet or social media. I don’t know why every parenting book doesn’t have “self-care” as the first chapter! “We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom.” (2) Your parenting skills will be influenced by your own life’s experiences, and relationships, past and present. To be better able to understand and respond to your child’s behaviors, emotions, and needs, it’s critical to understand and address any unmet emotional needs or trauma from your past, as well as learn the skills relating to the stresses and challenges of parenting.
“It may be that the enormous field of child development and parenting has actually done parents a disservice.
It has sent them the message that they need to look to experts to find the answers,
when oftentimes the answers lie within.” (3)
At Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, I teach, guide, and coach parents in mindfulness practices for cultivating those inner resources for responding to the stresses and challenges that come with parenting and in life. It’s about self-care in the small moments of life as it unfolds. The greatest gift we can give children is our presence – our well-nourished, balanced and healthy presence. This is how each of us can contribute to healthy, thriving families … beginning within ourselves. What a beautiful lesson and legacy for your child to learn these essential life skills for well-being because of YOU!
Join or host Mindful Parenting classes or MAP’s (Mindful Action Parent’s) groups to experience more balance, joy, calm, and overall well-being. For you. For your family.
MAP’s = Mindful Action Parents: gather a group of interested parents and HOST a MAP’s series of custom classes in your home (take turns hosting a class in your group’s homes).
See Calendar and Adult Programs and Services for newest classes and events and SUBSCRIBE!
Advocate for social emotional learning and mindfulness programs in your child’s school! Contact Dee if you are interested in your child’s class/school becoming a PILOT PROGRAM for Mindfulness for students, staff, and parents (available for all ages). Available in San Luis Obispo County and Northern Santa Barbara county.
“You may become flooded by feelings such as fear, sadness or rage. These intense emotions can lead you to have a knee-jerk reaction instead of thoughtful responses. When emotional reactions replace mindfulness, you’re on the low road and it is very unlikely that you will be able to maintain nurturing communication and connection with your child.” (~Dr Dan Siegel)