Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mindful parenting

Trudy A. Goodman has written an essay entitled "Working with Children" that is published in Mindfulness and Psychotherapy edited by Germer, Siegel and Fulton. Here's a passage that emphasizes the importance of mindfulness:
Equally important are the perspective and the patience that mindfulness brings. Many parents report that they have great difficulty responding to their children's misbehavior in ways they think are best rather than just reacting instinctively. The parent who is thwarted by a 2-year-old in the supermarket, or who is defeated in an argument with a teenager, may react with anger - even though he or she knows that this willl be counterproductive. Even parents who would never come to the attention of the child protection system frequently commit these small "parenting crimes." Mindfulness practice can help parents to deal with conflict and set approprate limits more skillfully.

When parents are attentive to the daily changes in their children, they develop a keenly felt sense of impermanence, in childhood and in life itself. Observing impermanence with mindful awareness can enable parents to tolerate the loss of connection they face when setting a difficult limit. The losses experienced in observing impermanence can give more ballast to parents, more courage to be with challenging experience.
Of course what is important to remember is that not only is the behavior of the child impermanent but so is the feeling response of the parent. Parents are less likely to respond unskillfully if they remember that their feelings of anger or frustration will pass if those feelings are just not given energy.

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