Can we have a “real talk”?
Life is hard. Parenting is hard. Being a parent during stressful times is even harder. Being a mindful individual is even more difficult. How can we raise these tiny humans in a healthy way when we struggle with our own childhood traumas and daily stresses?
I constantly struggle with the weight and responsibility to raise loving, responsible, respectful, thoughtful, empathetic and kind-hearted individuals. As parents, we were never given a rule book and oftentimes our own childhood experiences shape us in a way that may not be conducive to mindfulness.
Some of us may even question how we can be successful in this process while our own daily strugglings are so prominent. I know I do!
Throughout the years, I have started to find peace and security in knowing that no matter how great of a job I do, my children may have difficulties that are not within my control. They are born with their own personality and self-will. Oftentimes this conflicts with mine. My children will go through life’s ups and downs on their own terms. All I can do is stay present and be supportive.
I can’t control their “destiny” no matter how hard I may try. Can you think of a time that your own parents tried to change your perception of things or control your actions? How did that go?
As parents, the only thing within our power to control is our reaction. We must be ever-present and more aware of our reactions when our children’s daily choices may not be aligned with ours or even trigger our own past traumas. My personal experiences, routine and healthy habits have promoted a deeper relationship between my children and I.
Below is the list of my favorite activites to foster a deeper relationship with my children:
- Start your day with a clear intention. This can be as simple as, “Get out of bed 30 minutes before my girls.” It can be more complex such as a quality you wish to cultivate in your daily life such as, “Today I will be more present with my child or be more self aware.” This habit can make all the difference, helping you to stay centered, aware, and focused as the day unfolds.
- Take time to breathe. For just a few minutes a day, stop and focus on the air going in and out of your nose. It’s amazing how calming this can be.
- Be truly present with your child. No phones. No electronics. If this is challenging or unnatural, start small. Five minutes is better than none. Slowly increase the amount daily.
- Once a week, do something one-on-one with your child. Make them feel like they are the most important thing in the world. Let them choose the activity they would like to participate in and join them. (Taking a child to a trampoline park and watching them is much different than jumping into the foam with them.)
- For every one correction you give your child, try to say three positive things about their actions and behaviors. I try to be kinder than what is “natural” for me. Your words will later become your child’s inner voice. Let that voice be positive.
- Create a bedtime routine for you and your child. Facilitate a dialogue with your child and learn about his/her day. Discuss the things that made your child happy. Discuss the things that made him/her sad, mad, scared, anxious or frustrated. You can give your child tips on how to better respond to these stressful times. Remind your child that he/she is safe, loved, and protected. Let him/her know that tomorrow is a new day and help imagine those situations improving.
- When your head hits the pillow perform a similar routine as the above. Reflect internally and observe the times you may have reacted to stresses instead of responding with awareness. Remind yourself that we all make mistakes and we are in the process of evolving. Forgive yourself. Imagine yourself doing it differently the next time the situation arises.
I hope that reading this blog will be the first step to improving your relationship between yourself and your child. Learning these things is only the first step, but only regular practice will bring about true and lasting change. Don’t get me wrong; this is not a magic recipe. It will take time and practice. Mistakes will be made. In fact, I fear I make more mistakes than not, especially when parenting. Find what is best for you and your family. Regardless of how hard we try, we are imperfect creatures. That is okay! Don’t get stuck! Give yourself a break and keep moving!