Unearthing the truth about this style of parenting.
There’s been a lot of talk about mindful parenting in recent years, which means that there’s also a lot of misinformation making the rounds too. Odds are you’ve heard at least one of these all-too-common myths about what it means to be a mindful parent. I’d like to offer up the facts.
MYTH 1: Mindful parenting means committing hours a day to some sort of meditation practice.
It’s way too time-consuming for the average parent. In reality, mindful parenting is more of a mindset than a formal practice (although it is possible to work at developing some of the underlying skills until they become more natural and automatic). The only commitment needed is to try to make conscious and deliberate parenting decisions more often (as opposed to parenting on auto-pilot all the time).
MYTH 2: Mindful parents always get it right.
Mindful parents make mistakes, too. But because they’re making a concerted effort towards making conscious and deliberate parenting decisions, they find it easier to pick up on the mistake and switch up their strategy right away. And because mindful parenting is rooted in feelings of compassion— for parents as well as for children — they find it easier to forgive themselves for inevitable parenting missteps.
This makes parenting easier and less stressful and it teaches kids an all-important lesson about life and relationships: you don’t need to be perfect; you just need to keep trying.
MYTH 3: Mindful parents believe “anything goes” and don’t have any standards or limits for their kids.
Actually, quite the opposite is true. Mindful parents are incredibly tuned-in: they know what’s going on with their kids because they’re paying such close attention. And because they’re so tuned in, they’re in a better position to take action (and to do so in a measured and judicious way) when problems arise.
MYTH 4: Mindful parents are naturally calm and patient.
Just like the rest of us, mindful parents have to work hard at being patient and remaining calm. But they’ve learned that being mindful makes it easier for them to act in ways that support their big-picture parenting goals. So when they’re feeling stressed or sense they’re running short of patience, they remind themselves to take a mindful approach to dealing with their frustrations.
That means focusing on what is happening in the present moment as opposed to rehashing something that happened yesterday or worrying about something that might happen tomorrow (which only serves to make parenting harder). None of this is necessarily natural or automatic, but it does become easier over time.
MYTH 5: Mindful parenting doesn’t get results or work in the real world.
There’s a solid body of research to demonstrate the benefits of taking a mindful approach to parenting. We’re talking calmer parents, less stressed out kids, and more authentic connections between parent and child. Mindful parenting is about listening with full attention,practicing non-judgmental acceptance of yourself and your child, being aware of what you and your child are feeling in the moment, and having compassion for yourself and your child.
In other words, it’s a sensible approach to parenting that can have far-reaching benefits for both you and your child, today and over the long-term.