Parenting and Mindfulness… How to have more Peace in your Family

Parents have a long list of what they want from their kids
So you wish your kids would pay better attention? You know it’s important they learn how to focus. You want them to do better in school; keep track of their belongings; follow through with homework and assigned projects.

You want them to make friends and be well liked. You probably want them to pick up after themselves, and even help out around the house. You want them to be a good citizens in the world and not cause harm to others. You’d like them to manage their feelings and not have meltdowns, or stomp off in anger.

Can’t we all just get along?
You’d like them to listen to you. And talk to you (in a way that you can tolerate hearing). It would be great if your kids could calm down, not worry so much; sleep better; be more patient and not have angry outbursts that they take out on you and others.

Of course you’d like them to be organized and use their time well, take responsibility and not blame others for their mishaps. You’d like them to be on time; to do what you ask of them – all with a positive attitude. You’d also like them to understand when you’re exhausted or have a big project due at work, and not push the limits.

If only they could act like little grown ups
You’d love it if they saw how hard you work and how much you do for them and expressed real gratitude and appreciation to you for that. You want them to not be lazy, and in fact to excel at everything they do. And you’d probably like not to have to tell them 10 times what needs doing. You want them to act maturely and respectfully, and when they’re hurting, to articulate their feelings in a calm way.

You’d like them to reflect all of your positive qualities and strengths; and none of your weaknesses. Sometimes you might like them to be more evolved than even you are about these vulnerabilities and insecurities. You would like them to admire and need you – but only to a point. You want them to learn to take care of themselves at some point.

Good Parenting
You want them to make wise decisions, and not hang out with friends who are a bad influence. You want them to enjoy all the activities or things you provide for them. You want them to handle conflict without falling apart or being completely overwhelmed. You want them to feel confident and secure in themselves. You’d also like it if they could make you feel like a good parent…

Whew!! What a list…
And I’m sure this is just a tip of the iceberg of all the things you wish for and want from your kids. Kind of daunting when you consider how many developmental challenges are present in this list. Most adults are still working on one aspect or another of all of these good human qualities.

Do as I say, not as I do
Sometimes we ask or expect all of these things of our children, to make up for the deficit about the same that we feel in ourselves. If we struggle with insecurity, or lack of focus, or emotional upheaval we might think if our children can deal with those things better, then our own vulnerability won’t be so visible and will somehow be fixed. As you might guess, this parenting strategy can quickly fall out of whack, and set us up instead, to be whacked by the reality that life doesn’t really work this way.

Kids are people too and want the same from us
Interesting thing to note about this listing of what parents want from/for their kids is that kids want much of the same from their parents. They want parents to listen attentively to them; to manage their own emotions with respect; to be responsive; to follow through, to not blame them; to truly appreciate and know them; to let them be themselves; etc.

Mindfulness to the rescue
While it is not a panacea for everything, another interesting thing to note about this earlier listing is that many of the items can be tended to with the use of Mindfulness. Mindfulness in daily life can help children to focus better; listen more attentively, learn to manage their feelings with less torment.

Better focus, cooperativeness, compassion and communication Mindfulness can increase a teenager’s cooperativeness or compassion for others, or sense of gratitude. A mindful pause can do everyone in the family some good, and give the opportunity to consider more thoughtfully what the next step is. Regular Mindfulness can help people to build their own inner sense of security and capacity for dealing with adversity. Children and parents alike can learn to communicate mindfully and reduce conflict in the home, and improve their relationships. Everyone can be helped by learning to listen with more presence.

Learn more
If you’re not familiar with the idea of mindfulness (or just need a reminder), know that it is about being present to the moment by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings and body sensations – without judgment. It’s a simple but profound idea (see more about mindfulness here) that can have a big impact on family relationships.

Stay tuned to next week’s article about simple ways to bring more mindfulness into children’s – and Parents’ – every day life. (And no, meditation is not at the top of the list!)

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT

Marriage, Family Therapist
[email protected]
(510) 482-4445


  1. […] Last week we talked about some of the many skills we hope our kids develop as they grow, so they can be “successful” and so we can feel like good parents. (If you missed that post, you can read about it here). […]

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