Meditation and mindful parenting

Courtney Rupertus
Meditation and mindful parenting

For anyone who already has or maybe wants to have children, it’s surprising how your own mental fitness and agility can factor into parenting. Whether you’re aiming to be a good parent, which most of us are I’m sure, or simply a sane and happy one, meditation and mindfulness can bring more peace and ease to your parenting days.

Meditation and mindfulness, in this sense, are actually two separate things. Meditation being something you take on for yourself, as a parent, and the benefits trickle into the rest of your life, including influencing your children.

Mindfulness in this context refers to how you may or may not react to things that crop up throughout your day as a parent, which is a direct influence on your children. Losing your temper versus choosing a more peaceful path is a direct influence on your kids.

The goal here is not to be ‘perfect’ parents, but simply parents who are wide awake in their lives, rather than living and re-living a series of “commotionalities”, a term that refers to letting our commotional emotions get the better of us. We all have triggers and stress and things that drive us crazy, but self-aware parents can see the pattern as it starts and hopefully drag the speeding bullet of their lives another direction.

That is meditation. Mediation is not moms or dads sitting around, all blissed out, ignoring their kids. It’s making a concerted five, ten, fifteen-minute effort to gather their strength, focus, and creativity to be able to direct that speeding bullet that is life, grapple it Superman-style, and have some say in how the day goes.

You can quite literally meditate your way to better parenting, no parenting books required.

Meditation develops the following traits, which in turn leads to better parenting skills:

Self-awareness and emotional control

Compassion and empathy

Patience and understanding

Wonderment and the ability to see things from another perspective (ie: your child’s)

A regular meditation practice has also been scientifically proven to change your brain in these important ways:

Increased grey matter, which in key areas leads to better emotional regulation, cognitive flexibility, better planning and problem solving, and decreased symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Decreased amygdala size, which decreases our “flight or fight” responses brought on by stress or anxiety.

Reduced activity in the brain’s “me” center, which leads to less emotional reactivity and allows you to be more aware and accepting.

Meditation, I believe, is just one facet of the huge umbrella of mindful parenting. Some ideas for becoming a more mindful parenting are as follows:

Make space for just ‘being’ – Sometimes the house is a mess, no one seems to be on the same page, and chaos is reigning. Rather than letting your day be ruled by these external circumstances, just sit with it for a few minutes, and sit with your child. Feel them, see them, and pay attention. Your presence is the most important thing you can offer your child.

Take a deep breath, or many – When things start to get out of control, just stop, take a deep breath or a few, observe, and proceed. Usually, this is all we need to snap back to our best selves and keep plowing forward. If you avoid an “over-reaction” you will start to feel like a million bucks and that feeling will carry you forward.

Embrace good enough – Forget striving for perfection and simply aim for good enough. Your kid ate a vegetable today? Great! You got dressed? Superb! We are models for our children and that means we need to give them an authentic version of being human. That means imperfections, failures, humor, kindness, and forgiveness just to name a few.