So I have decided that I am going to stop telling you that parenting from your heart can literally change your life, and instead, I am going to start showing you, in my new blog series the Love Logs. We all have deep love for our children, but parenting can leave us confused, dazed, exhausted, frustrated and frazzled.
Parenting from the heart is simply a mindful approach to parenting that lets love show us the way.
I will be posting at least one blog post a week telling you the story of how I use a mindful loving approach in my family everyday, the mistakes I make when I get disconnected from love and how I make my way back. I will also be taking your questions and giving you blow by blow tips on you how you can also begin living from this space and enjoying the journey of parenting even more fully. So if you are stuck, frustrated, exhausted, irriated as a mom and have a deep desire to move past this place and into parenting from the power of love, email me!
I have a funny, quirky 5 year old boy named Christopher. He is a total riot. The kid is destined for Broadway, already having mastered the art singing his nursery rhymes with a vibrato singing voice and ending with a jovial display of baby jazz hands – the kid is pure entertainment.
But like all (most?) 5 year olds, he does things that sometimes leaves me wondering if his body and mind are actually connected and working properly. Impulsive stuff that is mostly directed at his sister (she’s 10). It ranges from ruining her stuff, hurting her and being just plain annoying.
Some of it he does on purpose, no doubt! But sometimes, he does stuff, then looks at me utterly bewildered.
Last week, we had one of those moment. We were sitting at the kitchen table, the 3 of us, painting pictures in the afternoon. We had some lovely classical music playing and Mama was especially enjoying the chill vibe in the house. They are sitting there engrossed in their own creations, and Christopher reaches out his little paintbrush filled with wet blue paint and casually dabs it on his sisters painting. Well, to say the shit hit the fan would be an understatement. Sophie went ballistic. She had been working for 30 minutes on this beautiful painting and in an instant he ruined it. I felt her pain man…
But I didn’t really get mad. Well, not like Sophie wanted me too. Through her tears and with a voice heavy with disappointment, she asked me: “Why didn’t you YELL at him!?!?”
I had taken Christopher aside and got down to eye level with him. I asked him how it felt to ruin his sisters painting and make her so upset? He was not pleased with himself and was very regretful. We found another activity for him to do while I spoke to Sophie.
I told her, “I am not making excuses for your brother, but you have to understand that his brain is not yet capable to always regulate his behavior all the time. He does stuff without thinking, and without the intention to harm you, every now and then. Yelling at your brother would serve no purpose really. For me to yell at him would only be because I was stressed or triggered by his behavior, not because it would actually help him make a better decision next time. You see, each time Christopher makes a mistake like this, I take it as an opportunity to help him learn and grow his little monster brain. Let’s do that with an open heart.”
She got it and calmed down immediately. Christopher came in and apologized to his sister. They hugged and continued painting in silence for a few minutes while I made myself a cup of well deserved strong coffee (no, not a straight scotch, although the thought crossed my mind). When I turned around again, they were happily painting a picture together. Sophie had scooted his chair closer to her and was teaching him how to paint a flower.
So that felt good! What did I specifically do?
1. I chose peace. Yes, his behavior certainly angered his sister and had the potential to seriously piss me off – he had kind of ruined a perfect moment, ya know…. But in that moment, I took a breath and allowed their BIG emotions to just BE there. It was ok, I didn’t have to engage with them myself. My job was in fact to keep my emotions out of that moment and instead focus on creating a safe, grounded, solid, loving space where they could come to the end of their tumultuous emotions and learn something new from the scenario.
2. I showed empathy. One of the things we hope for and try to cultivate in our child is a sense of empathy. But in order to do that, we must first model empathy ourselves. We teach our children how to relate to others by how we relate to them.
3. I communicated the truth. I remember Dr. Phil saying once people understand the truth when they hear it. When I sat down and explained to Sophie what was underneath his behavior, she could no nothing but recognize the truth in what I said. Luckily Sophie is a very rational and empathetic child herself so I appealed to what I knew would make a difference in her mind.
4. I served my children. Instead of loosing my cool, reacting from disappointment or stress, I remembered that I have a sacred job as their mother. That job is to use every occurrence, both positive and negative to serve their greater good. I have gotten good at this these past years and it may be the biggest, most profound mental habit that effortlessly takes me out of my own head and allows me to parent from love, empathy and compassion.
I hope this gives you some fresh perspectives you can use in your day to day! I would love to hear your stories of parenting from the heart and the impact it has on you and your children. Also, if you are wondering how to infuse a specific difficult situation you are having with your kids with a love consciousness and you don’t know where to start, post below or send me an email. I won’t publish your question or my answer without your consent (all questions posted anonymously).
Sending you LOVE!