” Don’t Worry that children never listen to you; Worry that they are always watching you.” – Robert Fulghum
Juggling between work life balance, working parents know that it can sometimes be difficult to get out of work mode and into parenting mode once you get home.
You want to make the most of your time with your kids, but there’s dinner to cook, homework questions to answer, and chores to be finished. How can you be present with your kids, and give them the attention and love that they need, when work pressures may still be on your mind?
Enter the practice of “mindful parenting.” Even if you have a loving, open relationship with your children (and we hope you do!), mindful parenting can improve your relationship, make you feel like a better parent, and help your children be more present with you, as well.
What is mindful parenting?
Mindful parenting encompasses five elements:
1) listening with full attention
2) accepting yourself and your child without judgement
3) emotional awareness of yourself and your child
4) self-regulation in your parenting
5) compassion for both yourself and your child
Learn to Listen
Listening, rather than just hearing, is a significant element of mindful parenting. Paying attention not only to words, but also facial expressions, body language, and vocal tone can help parents interpret better what their children are trying to communicate.
Instead of interrupting, parents who listen allow their children to express their feelings and needs without superimposing their own. Parents who are aware and accepting of their child’s needs are more likely to be more satisfied with their relationship with their child.
Less Conflict, More Compassion
Tension between parents and their adolescent children is common, because the relationship dynamic is constantly in flux. Adolescents are experimenting with asserting their independence and personal agency, and that tests parents’ boundaries and sense of control.
Accepting Your Child and Yourself
We know that parents feel a lot of pressure to be the best parents they can be. But we also know that being able to accept yourself and your children—perceived flaws and all—will help you and your children be happier, healthier, and feel more connected, even if your time together seems limited.
Mindful parents are better able to interpret their adolescent’s words and actions, helping them to pause, listen, and reflect on what their adolescent children are telling them. And adolescents who feel as though their parents listen to them are far more likely to communicate and disclose information about sensitive subjects.
In addition, when you’re mindful, even if your family time is limited, you can get the most out of your time together, helping to foster a loving, compassionate relationship that will endure for years to come.