Shilpi Mahajan, Founder fableby.com
A Mindfulness Practice For Stressed Out Parents:
Parenting in today’s times has become worse than ever and despite all the handbooks out there for parenting, most of what we learn as parents comes from our own experiences.
Parenting has become a gold standard for our being as humans and we are constantly judging ourselves as parents and being harsh on others around us. As a result, instead of being a source of joy, parenting today has become a source of suffering.
Parents are constantly getting mired in overwhelm, guilt, angst, fear for their children and their careers which is leading to increased anxiety and stress among them.
Parenting needs an inner skill which needs a quality of presence and compassion. It requires in being with the what is.
BE KIND TO YOUR INNER PARENT:
The real struggle of being a parent is not the parenting strategies but in looking yourself
in the mirror and being at peace with the inner parent. It’s in having a good relationship with yourself because that relationship will manifest in your relationship with your children. We will have our younger ones who will be bawling, ones with emotions that
are out of reach and the older ones challenging us with dagger eyes and hammering words. In those moments, it’s how we relate with ourselves that will matter. In those moments, our inner sanity will take a beating: we will be curse ourselves, feel the guilt, be uncompassionate and be critical of our parenting and ourselves.
I definitely did something wrong
I am not good enough
May be I haven’t given them enough time
Why are they so ungrateful and unforgiving
The inner critic will maul you and its at this moment you need to sit and create a mental
space for yourself. That’s where a steady Mindfulness Practice comes in. In
Mindfulness, we don’t avoid the thoughts but become a constant observer of our stream
of thoughts and emotions and wait for the wave to pass by. We don’t shift into self
criticism when things don’t go our way as parents but we let the moment pass.
A MINDFULNESS PRACTICE:
R.A.I.N of self compassion is an excellent practice to introduce Mindfulness.
The acronym RAIN, first coined about 20 years ago by Michele McDonald, is an easy-
to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness. It has four steps:
1. Recognize what is going on
2. Allow the experience to be there, just as it is
3. Investigate with kindness
4. Natural awareness, which comes from not identifying with the experience.
Whenever, you have a dissonance with your inner parent, allowing yourself the space
to practice RAIN allows you to mindfully experience the moment with compassion and
without judgement. When you allow the acceptance to seep in, you are not resigning
to the situation as a parent but giving yourself the mental space to note your own
experiences. You are allowing the experience to exist “as is”, without adding to it with
your own layers of emotions. You are allowing yourself in control of your reaction with
a thought through response. You are empowering yourself to be a better parent who
loves himself/herself deeply and extending that love to the child in front of you.
The next time you find yourself in a tough place with your children, give this
acceptance and self-compassion practice a try. With everyday practice, you will be
able to practice RAIN amidst even more difficult situations. We are all taking each
other home in this journey of life and as parents, we can make this journey kinder and
more loving for ourselves and our children.