Parenting isn’t easy. A child’s emotional ups and downs and constant needs can strain even the most patient of moms. Luckily, we can help ourselves by doing something so simple yet so profound that it might outweigh all other positive parenting techniques.
We can stop being so hard on ourselves.
A recent study of toddlers’ moms found that those who weren’t judgmental of themselves were less likely to experience stress, depression, and anxiety.
How does this improve parenting? Moms who are less stressed or anxious are more likely to be mentally flexible and available for their children.
So, being accepting of yourself may just be the best gift you can give yourself and your kids.
Easier said than done. We naturally and constantly judge ourselves and our abilities. This leads us to do things we later regret. When we’re feeling stressed and stretched, it’s all too easy to redirect our harsh self-criticism toward our children.
But two simple steps can help buffer us from our harsh inner critics: (1) Become aware of your thoughts and feelings, and (2) allow your awareness to be, without judging it.
In other words, practice mindfulness. Be aware of the present moment, non-judgmentally. You don’t need to become a student of meditation to experience the benefits of mindfulness. Anyone can develop awareness and acceptance.
As Tina Bryson and Dan Siegel beautifully explain, when we name thoughts or feelings, it helps us contain them. This prevents them from migrating into interactions with our children, making us harsher and less patient in our interactions.
Mindfulness can be transformative. You simply let awareness do the work, without judging or changing anything. Of course, children will unknowingly push our buttons, but this profound shift can help prevent us from taking out our own disruptive feelings out on them.
As women, we constantly face society’s expectations about our appearance and our identities as homemakers, breadwinners, spouses, and community volunteers. Add children to the mix, and it’s not surprising that the critical voices in our heads grow louder. For nothing we do carries the high stakes of having our hearts and souls intertwined with these emerging beings.
This Mother’s Day, give yourself the gift of self acceptance. You’ll find that it leads to compassion and forgiveness, flexibility, openness, and tolerance. All of those traits benefit the family. And your children will notice—if not with their minds, then certainly with an increased sense of well-being as they face their own ever-changing emotional seas.
Happy Mother’s Day!
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