main banner

What-Are-The-Benefits-Of-Mindful-Parenting__1

What Are The Benefits Of Mindful Parenting?

“You are your father's daughter alright!” this was a phrase I heard very often growing up which sadly was never meant as a compliment in our home.

As a young child, those words made me feel bad, not good enough and deeply afraid that genetics not only defined me but limited who I could be in this world. Thankfully, after years of therapy, I am happy to say that in my experience that’s all rubbish and the only limit is the one you set yourself!

Read Next: This Is What Tandem Breastfeeding Is Really Like

Before I became a parent, I did a great deal of soul searching and put a lot of work into becoming self-aware and be the best version of myself. Practising mindfulness on a daily basis and attending regular counselling sessions helped me to create an authentic life. Anne Marie, my wife also did the same and her journey of self-discovery prompted her to become a psychotherapist. We are both passionate advocates for breaking down mental health stigma and promoting emotional wellbeing, so much so that we set up Insight Matters, a mental health support service and with a team of 50 psychotherapists we support 400 clients per week.

Why Choose Mindful Parenting?

When we set out to create our own family we wanted to take a fresh approach to parenting and were committed to not making the same mistake as our parents made. We hoped to do better because we felt after years of working in the area of mental health we had an insight into the wondrous inner workings of the human psyche and the importance of nurturing our emotional wellbeing.

I remember during my maternity leave researching the various types of parenting styles and the one that most fits with our understanding of mental health, wellbeing and our values was Mindful Parenting.

Mindfulness plays a huge part in both our lives, we practice it on a daily basis and we believe it was instrumental in our ability to conceive our children through fertility treatment. It helped us stay in the moment, stay calm and connected to ourselves and to each other through the roller-coaster of emotions that the fertility process is.

Read Next: What Can We Learn From Attachment Parenting?

What is Mindful Parenting?

Jon Kabat-Zinn explains it best in his book he co-authored with his wife Myla, 'Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting': “Mindfulness, which lies at the heart of Buddhist meditation, means moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness. It's cultivated by refining our capacity to pay attention, intentionally, in the present moment, and then sustaining that attention over time. It means becoming more in touch with our life as it is unfolding.

Parenting through mindfulness has the potential to penetrate past surface appearances and behaviours and allow us to see our children as they truly are, so we can act with some degree of wisdom and compassion. The more we are able to keep in mind the intrinsic wholeness and beauty of our children – especially when it's difficult to see – the more our ability to be mindful deepens.

Basically, what all children truly need is to be seen and known, as they really are, separate beings from their parents. It is crucial that we establish healthy boundaries between ourselves and our children, knowing where we end and where they begin, allowing for clear seeing and knowing.

Read Next: Baby-Led Potty Training: How To Make It Work For You

“Your children are not your children”

As parents, we need to honour our children’s sovereignty and recognize they are separate beings and have rights. This does not mean we give them unbridled freedom or too many choices but it’s about bringing more awareness to our own unmet needs, issues and unfulfilled dreams. If we are not aware of these, these will easily get projected onto our children.

Kahlil Gibran said it best in his poem:

Mindful Parenting - Our Way to a Better World?

Mindful parenting consists of constantly working on yourself and being aware, and our ability to hold all of this as a separate process to that of the child. We need to take responsibility for what is unfinished in us, rather than burdening our children. We need to ask ourselves honestly if we can truly see, value and love our children as they truly are and not what we want them to be? Sadly, lack of clear boundaries and emotional separation on the parent’s part are at the root of many parent/child conflicts. What they need and what we need, are on two separate continuums and can often be at odds.

The aim in Mindful Parenting is to learn to accept and tackle all these needs, yours and theirs, with more dexterity, understanding and grace in mindful awareness. Too often many parents end up parenting their children the way they were parented or wanted to be parented, which is unhealthy as parents need to parent depending on their child’s needs and not their own.

I believe if as a society we practised Mindful Parenting by being present for our children and seeing them as they really are we would create a more compassionate and self-accepting society. To quote American author, philosopher and abolitionist David Henry Thoreau “Every child begins the world again…”

What are your thoughts on Mindful Parenting? We'd love to hear from you.


About the Author

Dil Wickremasinghe - social justice and mental health podcaster of “Sparking Change with Dil” on the HeadStuff Podcast Network and Co-Founder of Insight Matters – Inspiring change in self and society through personal development, psychotherapy and counselling.

www.insightmatters.ie
www.headstuff.org/dil
www.dilw.ie
 

Comments

Please login to leave a comment.