"Once you accept the fact that you're not perfect, then you develop some confidence." - Rosalynn Carter
Most of us judge ourselves harshly. We're so far from perfect. We overslept, ate that cake, forgot to return a phone call, snapped at our spouse, yelled at our kid, didn't feed him a hot breakfast, hustled him out the door so fast he forgot his homework. And while we're judging ourselves, how's the kid turning out? Not so perfect either? Nothing makes us more anxious than whether our children are turning out okay.
But perfection is too low a standard. Why not use love as your yardstick? Can you create more love in the world today? Can you forgive yourself for all those inevitable human missteps -- and just keep turning yourself around so you're on the right track again? Can you remind yourself that your child isn't perfect because he or she is human, and an immature, still developing human at that?
What kids need from us is the space to be imperfect, to be loved and accepted exactly as they are. That's the only place any of us can start from to grow. READ POST
"Children equate being loved with the reality of when we are there for them – when we really show up. And traditional methods have us showing up so much more when there are problems...Conventional wisdom tells parents that the time to emit more energy – that is, more emotion, more facial expression, more volume, and more intense relationship – is when things are going wrong. That’s a mistake, and a big one, because it puts our powerful parental energy to work growing more of the behaviors we actually want to see less of or not at all. Why water weeds?" -- Howard Glasser
Kids are a bit like little geiger counters. They live for our emotional energy -- positive or negative. So why, as parents, do we give most of our energy to what's going wrong? Even when we do catch our child doing something right, look at the amount of energy that's behind our responses to bad behavior ("How many times do I have to tell you?!") versus our positive acknowledgments ("Nice job, dear.")
And we rarely give ourselves strokes for the hundreds of things we do right as parents. Instead, we berate ourselves for those times when we lose patience. But feeling bad inside doesn't help us feel emotionally generous toward our children; it just makes us more likely to come unglued next time.
I know, it's hard not to react when you're upset. But if you can stop watering weeds, and start watering flowers, you can transform your home into a garden. After all, what we focus on grows. How? READ POST
"Amazing how a negative message -- even if it's unintentional -- can inflict a sharp stab to the soul and break down a child's spirit." -- Joanne Stern
Children rely on us to interpret the world: "That's HOT, Don't touch!... Now we wash our hands...We can walk now that the light is green.....We always... We never.... This is how we do it.....The sky is blue...."
What happens when they hear: "You'd lose your head if it wasn't glued on.....That was a dumb thing to do....You drive me crazy ....Why can't you....You never....You always.....You make me want to scream!"?
What happens when they overhear: "You won't believe the day I've had with that kid....He's never been much of a student....He and his sister will just never get along....He's not good at that....He's so irresponsible....He never does his chores without me hounding him.....He's always like that....He can't control himself....He's just like his father....He has such a temper...."
They believe it. READ POST
"I watch their softly tousled heads slumbering on
their pillows, and sadness wells up in me. Have I drunk in their smiles
and laughter and hugged them, or have I just checked things off my to-do
list today? They're growing so quickly. One morning I may wake up and
one of my girls will be getting married, and I'll worry: Have I played
with them enough? Have I enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of their
lives?" -- Janet Fackrell
It's part of our job description as parents to guide our kids and keep them moving through the daily routine. All too often, that means setting limits, denying requests, correcting behavior. Sometimes we're skillful enough that our child doesn't perceive our guidance as "negative." More often, kids give us the benefit of the doubt because all the other loving, affirming interactions create a positive balance in our relationship account. READ POST
Dr. Laura, I see how all your
mindfulness techniques make me a more patient mother. But when I find my temper rising, what can I do in that
moment? I know yelling doesn't work. I know that my inner critic that
tells me I'm a bad mother just makes things worse. But what do I actually DO?" -- Cara
Nothing. Really. You notice what you're feeling, you breathe your way through it, and you DO nothing.
When our temper rises, we all feel an urgent need to DO something, anything. But that's our emergency response system operating. And parenting, despite how it feels, is not usually an emergency.
So the most effective thing you can do is restore yourself to calm before you act. Why? Because the rational brain stops working when you're angry. So when you act from anger or fear, you're never taking constructive action.
I define mindfulness as just noticing our own feelings and thoughts without acting on them. Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg says it more directly: "Mindfulness is not hitting someone in the mouth."
Sure, it feels like we MUST intervene at that moment. Otherwise, our child will "get away with" bad behavior, and will become a terrible person. But that's fear speaking, and it drives us to take actions that make things worse. Later, we realize that we let our emotions run amok. We didn't guide our child with love. We didn't help her WANT to be a more loving or cooperative person. Instead, we dumped those yucky feelings from our full emotional backpack onto our child.
So what can you actually DO when you feel your temper rising? READ POST
"It’s like a big stick that I hit
myself with from the inside. Really, would I want anyone I love to do
that to themselves? Certainly not! And, I’ve made a commitment to
support my kids and myself in putting that stick down. For good. The
other day...the part of me that is Unconditional Love stood up, turned
towards the Critic, and embraced it. In that moment of love and
connection, the critic dissolved. Now I make it a practice to embrace
the Critic, over and over again. I am learning that whatever has a hold
on me, that which we most want to turn away from, is exactly what needs
undivided, loving attention." -- Jennifer Mayfield
The inner critic's goal is to protect us. It thinks its job is to constantly scan for threats so it can keep us safe: future dangers, past problems we keep reliving to prevent their recurrence (or prove we were right!), defects in others that we need to control and correct, and deep flaws in us that we fear threaten our very survival because they make us unlovable. No wonder we so often ricochet between anxiety and depression. READ POST