It’s February, so in the name of St. Valentine, let’s get to the heart of the matter.
You love your kids. AND, let’s face it, they drive you crazy sometimes. Maybe a lot. This parenting gig is sure challenging. You’re often frustrated, flummoxed, fatigued, and fed-up. Probably, so are your kids.
You may be dealing with your preschool child’s tantrums and tirades. Or your elementary-school son’s arguments about how “Unfair!” parents and teachers rules, siblings and peers teasing, can be.
Or maybe you’re dealing with your middle-school daughter’s sullen moods and anxious insecurities about fitting in and being “good enough”. Or your high-school student’s demands for 24/7 digital connectivity to friends, and the privacy and autonomy to do whatever they want with them.
Whew! Where’s that Owner’s Manual when you need it?!
At a Mindful Village, we often focus on providing practical parenting tips for dealing with common childhood problems – ranging from distractibility and disorganization to anxiety and depression to anger and aggression. We deal with the challenges of daily life, including morning routines, homework routines, and bedtime routines. We deal with some of the bigger life challenges, too, such as divorce, death, or childhood trauma.
As we go, we all will make mistakes. We’ll have ups and downs, good days and bad. Your children. You. Me. We’ll have times we doubt we can get through this day.
Here’s what I know – after nearly 30 years of working with all kinds of kids, and raising 4 of our own – that your children will demand strength of character, steely resolve, patience, firmness, and tenderness that you don’t even know you have.
And through it all, through all the mundane messes of raising children, there will be one core guiding principle that will see you through. Choose Love.
Any parenting tips that I have to offer you, any research-based child-development guidance that I’ll share, won’t be worth a hill of beans without this one ingredient that is the secret to any of our successes. Choose love.
The key to mindful parenting, the key to our children’s happiness and success, is this. It’s to pause in the heat of any battle and ask ourselves “What Would Love Do?”
In any stressful situation, it’s best to follow these three simple steps. Pause. Breathe. Proceed. And in that pause, in that breath, we can collect ourselves for just a moment. We can reconnect with our natural parenting wisdom by reminding ourselves, “What Would Love Do?”
The answer isn’t to be achieved. It’s to be received. It isn’t to be reasoned or analyzed. It’s to be softly listened to and heard. It doesn’t come from our heads. It comes from our hearts. We feel it in our gut. We know when it’s right.
Is your intention, in this moment, to be loving to your child? Is it a love that is kind, patient, and forgiving? Is it a love that is strong, firm, and unyielding?
Loving doesn’t always look nice, and it certainly doesn’t always mean giving our children what they want in the moment. It means being willing to endure heartache for your child’s well-being, with pure, clear intentions. It means trusting in the divine love that brought us all into being, and that brings us all together.
There will be other days for us to add more practical parenting strategies to the mix. But for now, may we all remember – and practice – this simple, compassionate skill.
Pause. Breathe. Ask yourself “What Would Love Do?” And Proceed.
Peter Montminy, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, mindfulness teacher, speaker, author, loving husband and dad. He invites you to join in an ongoing conversation that seeks to restore sanity to humanity – one child at a time. Join us at www.AMindfulVillage.com.