Mindful Loving Parenting
Diana Baysinger, MC
Mindful Loving Parenting is a parenting practice that is especially important in these changing times. More parents are working from home and at the same time managing their children’s virtual education and activities. These added responsibilities not only increase the amount of time families spend with each other, it increases the roles and responsibilities for both children and parents. Along with these changes comes the opportunity to develop practices that can enrich family life.
Mindful Loving Parenting is a parenting practice that helps prioritize the well-being of each family member and creates a work, study, and life balance. Mindful Loving Parenting is intentional, where parents set goals for their parenting and then pay attention to how those goals are met or revised. Throughout our parenting experience, there are natural cycles of connection, success, and engagement with our children. There are also natural cycles of disconnection, challenge, and withdrawal. Understanding these cycles helps us journey through our Mindful Loving Parenting with a greater sense of confidence. The success of Mindful Loving Parenting is based on building trust, trust in ourselves and in our children. When parents are OK, children are OK, and when the children aren’t OK, parents are better equipped to help them learn effective coping skills by using Mindful Loving Parenting.
The two basics skills of Mindful Loving Parenting are:
- Loving Communication: Use “I” Messages and Listen to Understand
- Understanding and Respecting Differences: Parent to the Uniqueness of Each Child
The following interview demonstrates how one father, age 45, uses Mindful Loving Parenting with his two children ages 7 and 6.
Diana: In what ways do you use Mindful Loving in your parenting?
Diana: In what ways do you use Mindful Loving in your parenting?
Andy: Using “I” messages has been a major change for us as a couple and as parents. We have grown closer as a couple by expressing appreciation for each other and we are better at listening and making sure we understand what is being expressed before we respond with our own opinion. This carries over into expressing appreciation to our kids for their accomplishments or when they listen to us and each other.
Right now, we are working on the use of manners. We encourage them to express gratitude with “thank you” or “I appreciate”. They also use “I” messages to address conflict, “I don’t like it when you….” We use affirmations to reinforce their communication with each other and with us. We are there to help them listen to each other when there is conflict and they are learning to communicate and manage their differences in more productive ways.
Diana: What has been the greatest change in your family structure and routine because of the pandemic?
Andy: The greatest change for us is when we are out in public. We have talked to our children about the precautions we need to take and about healthy habits. They understand the use of hand sanitizer and masks. The greatest challenge is their confusion when they see masks on some people and not on others. As a result, we have intentionally transitioned to activities that help the kids maintain a sense of normalcy.
Another change is our decision to home school. We have set up a school room and are implementing an approved curriculum that will help them master the academic criteria for their individual grade level.
Diana: How do you nurture the uniqueness of each of your children?
Andy: We celebrate their individual interests and strengths and it is so much fun to support and watch them grow. We pay special attention to each child’s unique interests and desires. It is important for us to harness the energy of each child and help them pour their hearts into their own passion.
Our son is interested in figuring things out, building things and learning how things work. He builds model airplanes, planters for the garden, loves to ride his bike, and play the piano. Our daughter loves playing barbies, being outside, staying active in sports, and riding her bike. She is sensitive to others and can be found delivering flowers from the garden to our neighbors.
One of our Mindful Loving Parenting practices is limiting tech/screen time. I notice a deeper level of awareness and light in their eyes when they do not use devices. The use of technology is limited in our household. We want our children to develop their own ideas, creativity, and basic life skills before using technology as a source of information.
Diana: How has teaching your children at home impacted your family life?
Andy: It has enriched their learning experience. The controlled curriculum has accelerated their thirst for learning new things. It has impacted our family life in such a wonderful way, we plan more things together and my wife and I are actively involved in their learning. Both our children enjoy learning things we do as a family. We work in our garden, build things in the home, cook, take bike rides to farms to learn about animals and agriculture. They are always learning and we are always finding ways to enrich their learning experiences every day.
We introduce new topics and tie them into things like maps, geography, and our own travels. As a result of a world map we placed on their schoolroom wall, our kids know about the United States, Asia, Africa, Europe, Russia and now China. The other day we were discussing how each country has its own government. When we discussed recent news about Hong Kong politics, our son said he did not like the Chinese government. When we asked him why, he talked about how the policies of the communist regime impacted the citizens. He said the current actions to secure more power takes freedom away from the Hong Kong citizens and he did not think that was fair to the people. I was amazed at his awareness and ability to understand and respect freedom and how the differences between governments impacts that freedom.
Diana: What do you want your 2020 family story to be?
Andy: It will be a simple story of how we focused on sustaining meaningful relationships and activities. We created a social circle of friends who respected social distancing. We became closer as a community and celebrated traditions together like the 4th of July. When a new ordinance was announced, we talked through it and planned how best to manage new rules. This is a year where we educated our children about current events and they learned to think through things that were not the norm. Our children learned to make educated decisions. They learned about our rights as citizens, about government mandates and about the virus.
Our family story will reflect how we managed to maintain our values during events that impacted the world. We will remember old and new traditions that have helped us grow together as a family and as a community.
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