What is Mindful Parenting?
Mindful parenting is an approach that takes deliberate note of our choices as parents. It’s about being intentional with our parenting choices and not defaulting to whatever happens to come to us naturally (which is often not the best way to approach our children). This means asking the real questions. Usually, mainstream parenting advice is obsessed with behaviour: how to stop a certain behavior (tantrums), or start another one (doing chores). But mindful parenting approaches children as whole people, not just a set of behaviours. Their behaviour, in fact, is simply the tip of the ice berg – the final (and often appropriate) expression of how they experience their environment and the people around them. That’s why, when we examine a particular parental response to a behavior, we ask ourselves: what is my child’s behavior telling me? And how can I solve this problem with him?
For example if a child lies – what we really want to teach them is that lying is wrong and it hurts others. But when we punish them or remove a privilege, they’re learning that when they screw up, we’ll hurt them somehow. They learn not to lie – or to lie better – because if they lie they’ll get hurt. This encourages selfishness and improved lying skills. Instead, mindful parenting teaches us to skip the punitive response altogether and get to the real heart of the point: that lying is wrong and hurts others. Extending children grace and teaching through modelling are the backbones of this approach.
Finally, mindful parenting focuses on the parent, not the child. Rather than seeing parenting as an act of doing something to our children of raising them – mindful parenting flips the focus around onto raising ourselves, the parents.
How was the Parenting Junkie born?
The parenting Junkie started because I found myself sharing the alternative parenting approaches I was learning with friends and family who were fascinated. Because I’m an eternal student, an extrovert and somewhat shameless – I started a blog. Things spiralled from there.
What words of advice would you give to working parents?
I would say release the guilt over the quantity of time you’re not spending with your kids. I know, easier said than done. But pursuing your dreams and supporting your family are as important an element of being a good-enough parent as any other. Instead, put all of your focus on the quality of your interactions with your kids. And even more laser focused? Make the transition times count. Coming home at the end of the day and leaving in the morning, waking up and bed times. A few short moments of connection (touch, eye contact, words of affirmation and love) a healthy relationship can make.
How would you suggest the workplace support working parents?
Oh, where do I start? Personally, I believe that the most productive work gets done when people feel that their needs for connection and family are met in a deep way. I think it’s to the detriment of all involved that work places pit themselves as a competitor for our attention. If workplaces positioned themselves as caring for their employees health and wellness – encouraging parents to go home early, be there for bedtime and take family time off would be a no brainer. The small but meaningful progressive employers that have begun to take this approach have enjoyed huge benefits: a soar in loyalty, overall job satisfaction, and productivity. Paradox? I think not.
If I could give employers my two cents it would be this: Trust parents to make their own hours, offer flexibility and understanding and they will pay you back tenfold in their commitment and productivity.