Parenting is not about our children but it's about our growing up and becoming more aware, mindful, sensitive and conscious human beings.
In my book I have highlighted the five anchors of parenting. They are all interlinked and flow from one to another. Connect is the foundation - laying down nourishing soil replete with love, worthiness, joy, recognitions and positive energy. Coaching is about building necessary life skills in children through an understanding of their unique wiring. Care is about nurturing ourselves for a more wholesome life. Community is about building caring ecosystems for children to thrive in. Commit is about sustaining the courage and compassion for our whole-hearted journey.
Parenting is about being present to ourselves and to our children in the here and now. When we are less mindful and more mindless, parenting can become a knee-jerk reaction. However, when we are more mindful, we create the inner space to reach out to our own wisdom and respond with clear thinking, understanding and acceptance of 'what is'. I have observed that my mindlessness hooks my children's mindlessness. However, if I stay mindful, it immediately has a similar effect on them.
At the core of parenting there needs to be acceptance. I accept and love you the way you are. You are unique, you are different and you are you. I will not compare you with others, I will not constantly keep expecting and demanding what you might not be able to do or give.
The following is excerpted from "All You Need Is love."
Parenting can be extremely frustrating, especially when faced with children who are just not getting it right. They might be messy, disorganized, rude, with no sense of time or maybe terrible in math, not coordinated enough to play sports and so on and so forth. It can be extremely tough for parents - constant arguments, shouting matches, daily battles - which can leave everybody drained.
This is not what you had bargained for when you had thought of becoming a parent one day. The feeling of burning out, self-doubt, guilt and a creeping sense of regret. Yes, regret. Not many parents will admit to this forbidden feeling but there is truth in this harsh sentiment. According to a study cited by the famous happiness expert Daniel Gilbert in his book, Stumbling on Happiness, the mother's sense of satisfaction decreases after giving birth to a baby and only increases when the children leave home. Parenting children is a lot of hard work but ask any parent what gives them maximum joy and they will point to the little imp running her down with his screams and demands. Paradoxical but so true!
I remember as a new mum, the thing that used to petrify me was the fact that the buck stops with us and that this little human being's life was completely dependent on me and my husband. Sleepless nights, obsessing about every ounce of milk taken in or morsel rejected, trips to the doctor, first step taken, first word heard or imagined, first day at school, they are all etched in our mind forever. And the guilt we carry for everything that does not go well. 'I am a terrible mother as I can't even control my children.' 'I am sure everybody must be thinking I am a bad mother, that's why my child is not doing well in studies.' Shame, guilt, self-blame and embarrassment become our nagging companions. We are so quick to judge ourselves for everything we do or believe we do wrong.
Studies have unequivocally proven one fact - the emotional well-being of the parents, especially the mother, is the key to a child's well-being. So I am only going to focus on your well-being in this chapter. Remember the inflight security announcement? In case of lack of oxygen, first take care of yourself, then your child. Same goes for parenting.
There are endless discussions and so much research on what is good and not good for children: stay-at-home mothers, working mums, single mothers, parents who live together, divorced parents, young mothers, mature mothers, and nuclear and joint families. I have a simple belief - a happy mother is the best thing for children. Children thrive when they have mothers who are happy, joyous and ready to enjoy with them. So, if you have been obsessing about how being a working mother, you have not been able to give the best to your children, then just relax. Children would rather have a mother who is happy when she is with them than a mother who is with them all the time but miserable. Make a choice that builds your sense of growth and well-being. It could be about being a stay-at-home or a working mother, or a single mother. Choose happiness!
I have always been a little flummoxed by a lot of parenting literature out there which aims at categorizing parents into pigeonholes on the basis of parenting styles. So we hear a lot about different styles of parenting: permissive, laissez faire, helicopter, drill sergeant, tiger mom, authoritarian, authoritative, democratic, etc. I have never known which style I fit into till the realization hit me that I do not have to be boxed into any. There is no cookie-cutter approach to parenting. I am fine as I am and my own style of parenting, with all its imperfections, works well too. It has been so liberating to give myself permission to be imperfect. Parents already feel judged and we do not have to add to that burden by slotting them into boxes. There is no right or wrong way of parenting. If each child is wired and inspired differently, then each parent is wired and inspired differently too. So, this book is not about making you a perfect parent so that you can have perfect kids. In this world of overloaded information and overscheduled, overprotected children, I do not promise you any fun, fast and easy ways or quick fixes.
This is not another preachy book that will make you feel guiltier as a parent or more anxious about how you are not getting it right. I hope it will be like a companion for you to reflect, introspect and dig deep to connect to the immense wealth of wisdom that is already there.
Research indicates that laid-back mothers are happier than mothers who follow an intensive parenting model. This mother of the four year old had come to see me for
depression. Apart from my initial annoyance, my heart really went out to her. When I asked her how she was taking care of herself, she broke down. She had no space for that in her life. Like all other tiger moms, she had decided that her single role in life was parenting and she was doing it with all her heart. As we worked together, I helped her see that parenting was just one aspect of her identity. The most important person in her life had to be herself. She learned to let go of her guilt and self-blame and enjoy her life more. She reconnected with her hobbies, her friends, rekindled the romance with her husband and slowly recovered from the 'perfectionist virus'.
So spare yourself all the fretting, worrying and guilting (special verb I have for mothers). It's all right, you do not have to be perfect and you can mess up at times. Parenting is not a race. Pause, take a deep breath and just let it be.
We live in a day and age in which we have to multitask. You might be helping your child with her homework, supervising the dinner being cooked in the kitchen at the same time and also coaxing the other child to clear up and go for a bath. We also live in a world of constant connectivity, so in between all this you could be answering your friend's texts or shooting a few important emails from your smartphone. Research is unequivocally indicating that multitasking can not only cause huge stress, but it is not really effective as all that you are doing is dividing and diluting your attention in multiple tasks.