Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Mindful Parenting

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Five Books interviews Genevieve Von Lob:

Dr Genevieve von Lob is a clinical psychologist. She has worked with families from every type of background during a ten-year career spanning private practice, NHS child and adolescent mental health services and work for local authorities. She has been widely quoted in the media, including in the Telegraph, Daily Mirror, Financial Times, Top Santé and Grazia, and featured as a consultant therapist in an episode of Channel Four’s Dispatches. Her new book Five Deep Breaths: The Power of Mindful Parenting was recently published by Transworld.

The interview begins:

 I’m really intrigued about the idea of mindful parenting. What is it?

The last thing I want to do is tell mums and dads what kind of parents they should be.  It’s hard enough being a parent, and all the advice on offer can make it seem even more overwhelming. The idea of ‘mindful parenting’ is to help parents find their own answers. So many mums and dads I’ve worked with have ended up questioning their judgement when they know their child better than anyone. I wrote Five Deep Breaths to empower parents to listen to their own inner guidance and learn to trust themselves again. In a sense, ‘mindful parenting’ is a break with the kinds of behavioural strategies and techniques for disciplining your child parenting experts have emphasised in the past, almost as if raising a child was like training one of Pavlov’s dogs. The danger with these kinds of strategies is that they can reinforce the myth that there’s some ideal, one-size-fits-all way to raise children, and parents can feel very discouraged and disempowered when the approaches they read about in books don’t work.

I often find that parents who come to me have tried everything – they’ve been to all the parenting groups, they know all the techniques – but nothing is actually working. And I think it’s often because they’ve spent so much time listening to other people’s opinions that they’ve lost touch with their own intuitive guidance – what I call ‘the inner parent.’ For me, mindfulness is all about learning to step back from our busy minds so we can hear what our ‘inner parent’ is saying. We can get so stuck in our heads that we forget that the feeling of connection we share with our child is by far the most important thing.

And it’s also hard, I suppose, because (unless it’s a single parent family) you are parents. There are two different views, although you’re trying to do it together.

Having children can put all kinds of pressures on a relationship, and parents can often have very different perspectives on what’s best for their children, often based on the way they were brought up. The great thing about mindfulness is that it can help you to notice when you’re slipping into the same old patterns in your relationships and choose a new response. The other great thing about mindfulness is that it’s something you can easily incorporate into your daily life. You don’t have to carve out time to try to meditate because I think for most parents that’s just really hard. It’s just too big of an ask. Mindfulness shouldn’t be another thing on the to-do list, or something else to strive for. Striving is the opposite of being kind to yourself, which is what mindfulness is all about.

Even something as simple as remembering to take little pauses throughout the day to check-in without yourself and just ask “How am I feeling? What kind of thoughts am I having?” can make such a big difference. I called my book Five Deep Breaths because taking a few deep breaths is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to calm a busy mind and bring yourself back into the present moment. Taking a breath acts like a brake on our nervous system and calms our whole physiology down, and we can start to see things more clearly. We learn to respond, rather than react.

It’s about prioritising what’s important. So much can shift when you start to slow down a little bit. It’s an inner thing. You really start to appreciate those little moments of connection with your child when you get them. There’s something wonderful about being really present with your child when you’re reading them that bedtime story, rather than thinking I’ve got to do x, y and z later.

I’m so guilty of that – reading them bedtime stories and weighing up how much I can get away with paraphrasing or skipping.

It’s not a matter of ‘guilt’, it’s just the way we’re programmed. Part of being mindful is choosing not to beat ourselves up when we don’t manage to be mindful. We can learn to say to ourselves: ‘Okay, that’s fine, every moment is a new moment. I haven’t been particularly mindful today but I can be kind to myself about that and realise I’m doing my best here and that has got to be good enough.’ I think we can be very hard on ourselves and there are some great suggestions for being kinder to ourselves in some of the books I’ve chosen.

Your first choice is The Whole-Brain Child (2011). I’ve returned to this book several times since reading it, because it is so informative. Especially when the author gives examples of parenting mistakes that can happen. I recognise so many of them! . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 July 2017 at 5:43 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

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