This quote by Myla Kabat-Zinn is one of my favorites. It brings us down to the bottom line: How are we treating our children? Do we parent with kindness and gentleness?
Even though we all want to be good parents to our children, often we do not know how to be a good parent. Or, we get confused with all the parenting advice that is available. Someone will criticize us no matter what we do.
Sometimes it is good to forget about all the advice and focus on the basics. What would it feel like to be treated the way you treat your children? Do you parent with kindness? It’s a tough question. Be honest with yourself.
First, ask yourself if your children like the way you speak to them? Second, do you treat your children the way you like to be treated? And third, do you meet your children’s needs just as you yearn your deepest needs to be met?
Do you speak to them disrespectfully and critically and make them doubt themselves? Are there times when you yell that them? Do you treat them harshly and hurt their feelings? Do you ignore them and leave them unsupported and alone?
If you want your children to flourish and grow, you need to treat them in the same way you treat the adults in your life who see you at your best. After all, I believe that choosing kindness, understanding and acceptance not only applies to our children but to all the people in our lives.
Do not reserve kindness, respect and courteousness for adults. Remember that both adults and children want to be heard and understood.
We often forget how hurt we were when our parents criticized us. We speak to our children in a similar way and think that that is acceptable or normal. Sometimes we even think our children deserve it. We may even fear that if we are not tough on our children, they will end up in trouble later on.
If you do not know what to do in a difficult situation, ask yourself:
- Am I being kind right now?
- Am I trying to understand my child?
- Am I accepting my child as they are?
You cannot go wrong, if you answer yes to all three questions.
Ask yourself these questions frequently. If the answer is “no” to any of them, this does not make you a bad person or bad parent, it just makes you a parent who is making a mistake in this moment. You are a good person. You can make good parenting decisions most of the time.
In a difficult moment, slow down. Breathe. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your child. I know that your intention is to help your children grow and thrive. Parent them with kindness, especially when it’s hard.
Read about calm parenting here to learn more about how you can cultivate a better relationship with your child.
Matleena Vanhanen is a licensed Counselling Psychologist with over 20 years of experience working in Europe and the Middle East. She has a practice of couples and individual therapy at the MapleTree Center in Dubai.